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Sally Spiegel Seven: Claremont political activist, educator

Longtime Claremont political activist, great-grandmother, educator

Longtime Claremont resident and fixture in local civic and political life Sally Spiegel Seven died November 8 at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center following a heart attack. She was 89.

Sally was born April 10, 1930 and grew up in Kewanee, a small city in northwest Illinois. Early on she revealed a sense of social justice when she refused to attend Sunday school after learning lower-income children were denied entrance because they could not afford the required nickels to pay for refreshments.

Her leadership abilities also developed early. Her first follower was her younger brother, Douglas, who sneaked away from home to join Sally when she attended the local elementary school. Her independence of mind was also in evidence at a precocious age: She found her first-grade curriculum (Dick and Jane readers, etc.) and her rather strait-laced teacher unpleasant. So, when her mother became temporarily disabled, she was relieved when she was sent to her grandparents’ home in a nearby town, where her teacher was more progressive and the texts more complex.

In high school she joined the debate club, which she thoroughly enjoyed, advancing to statewide competition and then the statewide championship in her senior year. Not surprisingly, she graduated valedictorian of her class.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, where she also met and married Mike Seven. They moved to Southern California for a time, where Ms. Seven became a technical editor at Hughes Aircraft Corporation and Mr. Seven worked in research at The Rand Corporation.

Then, after a short stint in Tucson, Arizona, the Sevens worked on research projects under contract at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

Thereafter they moved to Claremont, where they both earned PhDs at Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) and subsequently taught, Ms. Seven at Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College), and her husband at Harvey Mudd College.

Living in Claremont enabled the Sevens to be more involved in parenting Judi and Kathy, Mr. Seven’s daughters from a previous marriage.

Ms. Seven was quite active in various local organizations. She joined the American Association of University Women when that organization had a chapter in Claremont, and soon became its treasurer and subsequently, president.

At the same time she became a member of the local League of Women Voters, in which she worked diligently to preserve its “grassroots” structure, which emphasizes the strength and authority of its local leagues. She was on the local LWV board of directors for many years, spent much time and energy heading its speakers’ bureau, was the recipient of the Beatty Award for exemplary service to the league in 2003, and served as co-president from 2011 to 2013. She was also on the board of the LWV of Los Angeles County for a number of years, was in charge of its study on “Population Effects on a Sustainable Future,” and served as its president from 1998 to 2002.    

The Sevens were both initiating members of the city of Pomona’s Police Reserves in the late 1970s. Ms. Seven maintained her interest in law enforcement, and served on the two Claremont Police Facility Ad Hoc Committees in recent years.

She also served on the board of the Pomona Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association and was a regular attendee of that group’s meetings. She was also a member of Claremont Friends of Locally Owned Water, a group that promoted the city’s acquisition of its water system, which had support from a portion of the citizenry but ultimately failed.

Ms. Seven was preceded in death by her husband, Michael J. Seven; and daughter, Kathleen Seven Williams.

She is survived by her daughter, Judi Seven Barber; brother, Douglas Spiegel; grandchildren, Shawnna Rigg of Washington, Darnell Barber of Ontario, Tracie Rose of Washington, and Bill Rush of Illinois; nieces, Sara of Washington, Lia of Oregon, Amy of Nebraska; many grand and great-grand nieces and nephews; and by many dear friends who will miss her very much.

A graveside burial will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, December 5 at Oak Park Cemetery, 410 Sycamore Ave., Claremont. A celebration of Ms. Seven’s life will take place after the new year at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, in Claremont.