The Valle Monte League Story

(excerpt from a 1997 CTE program article by Marjorie Pierce)



In 1950, a group of five young Los Gatos matrons was helping a small mental health sanitarium in the Los Gatos mountains called Tre Monte.


They assisted with reading and writing and gave gifts of bed sheets and other necessities. The need was great and, at the urging of Reg Loftus, director of the struggling facility, they formed an organization and called it Tre Monte Auxiliary.


Among the first to join were Sue Lambertsen McCord, Tre Monte president in 1952, Frances Anderson , president in 1953 and her friend, Helen Fisher, who had been involved in fashions in Beverly Hills. Helen suggested they do a fashion show and that she would volunteer to train models. The first show, featuring fashions from Appletons and Prussias - small upscale stores, was held around the pool at the Saratoga Inn. The models included the vivacious always-smiling Chris Snyder, the Lindeman sisters, Tildy and Berta, and another pair of very popular, handsome sisters, Jill O'Brien James and Janet Wright. All were well-known socialites.


A giant step forward were the shows featuring fashions from Hart's Department Store Designer Shop. Alex Hart, who had connections in Beverly Hills, brought up Don Loper to serve as emcee one year and actress-singer Patricia Morison another. Both performed before audiences of 2,000 at the Civic Auditorium.


Unfortunately, however, Tre Monte sanitarium was operating in the red and in 1954 closed its doors. The membership elected to carry on in support of mental health causes and reorganized with a new name: Valle Monte League.


Valle Monte League's first president was Carolyn Swanson. Charity McMahon (later Mrs. Morris S. Lee), her husband, the late Brig. General John E. McMahon, joined by Myrne Shephard, a long-time member, drew up its constitution.


In 1954, Adult & Children Guidance Center (now Family & Children Services) was chosen to be the League's first major beneficiary. In 1971, John XXIII Multi-Service Center was added. The Centre for Living with Dying became a beneficiary in 1972, Alzheimer's Activity Center was added in 1986 and Services for Brain Injury was added in 2009.