Longtime JASNA member Clara Browda died on December 1. Founder of the West Los Angeles Reading Group, Clara was a constant presence at JASNA Southwest events and attended at least 18 JASNA Annual General Meetings. A voracious reader, she kept the West L.A. Reading Group on its toes with her thought-provoking study questions prior to each meeting, held for many years in the recreation room of her condo building. It was Clara who approached and secured UCLA Professor Lynn Batten to lead the group’s discussions.
Clara grew up in the greater Los Angeles area and studied music at USC. Her parents were both musicians and went to Vienna for their honeymoon and ended up staying for two years to study music. Clara was a talented flutist and could have played professionally. She was an avid art, opera and classical music aficionado. Throughout her life, she remained close to her family, including her younger brother, David, his daughter, Lydia, and many cousins. When David was 2, he invented his own language and only Clara understood him, serving as an interpreter to their parents.
After 30 years working for a property management firm in Beverly Hills, Clara retired in 2012 from her role as office manager. An avid animal lover, Clara enjoyed being able to spend more time with her beloved dachshund, Shayna, who always helped “clean up” (looking for crumbs) after the West Los Angeles Reading Group meetings. After Shayna died, Clara adopted Pumpkin, who now resides with niece Lydia.
Clara loved to travel and visited every continent except for Antarctica. A favorite journey was to Easter Island in the South Pacific. On a trip to Russia, she met with some of her family’s Russian relatives. On a flight to London in the early 1960s, she shared a plane with the Beatles.
A true Janeite, Clara frequently introduced family members, co-workers and friends to the works of Jane Austen. She also cared deeply about the plight of others and was an outspoken advocate for civil rights and social justice throughout her life. She will be remembered for her leadership, sharpness of mind, grace, compassion and guidance on all that is proper. May she rest in peace.