On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, our beloved mother, Louise Dorner, age 100, passed away from complications due to the Coronavirus. Born in Brooklyn, NY, the fifth of six children, to Italian immigrants Michele and Ersilia Serra, she was raised in the Italian community that flourished there.
She loved to tell stories about her childhood in Brooklyn, where her father set up shop on the corner near the city’s first traffic signal to sell fruit, flowers and gifts to Transatlantic travelers and where her mother’s cooking was the envy of all the neighborhood kids who would trade lunches with their schoolmates from other immigrant communities. This love of Italian cooking was passed on to Louise who was later credited with treating her own children’s friends to their first pizza, (actually focaccia), many years later in Los Angeles.
During the runup to the War, Louise took classes at CCNY, and later worked as a fashion editor at a local magazine. She met the love of her life, Sidney Carl Dorner, while on a trip with one of her sisters to visit their brother at the Army Air Force training base at Hattiesburg, MS. They were married in June of 1945 following his return from the European Theater following the War.
Louise moved to Los Angeles where Sid was repatriated. Together they started a small business designing and fashioning furniture hardware, which evolved into a lighting fixture manufacturing company that served the growing demand for custom designed, decorative elements that architects, and interior designers coveted. Louise handled the books and ran the small showroom on La Cienega Blvd., where she worked with clients that included many celebrities from nearby Hollywood. As the business grew and Dorner Products became more widely known for having provided lighting for many of the new Las Vegas casinos that were then being built, they sold the company to Lightolier, Inc., and expanded their brand. Two notable projects were the chandeliers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center, and the Ambassador College Auditorium in Pasadena.
Louise was a political activist in Los Angeles, working voting precincts, and was a proud member of the Delphian Society Chapter where she met many like-minded women who promoted women’s education. She later worked with Howard Jarvis who was then building support for California Proposition 13 which rolled back property tax rates. Upon their retirement to the Spring Valley Lake community near Victorville, she was elected President of the Homeowner’s Association there.
Once the children went off to college, Louise went back to work, joining the Accounting Department of the Mayor of Los Angeles. There she oversaw city issued contracts to ensure that projects proceeded on schedule and within budget. She remained with the City until retirement in 1983.
Louise is preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Sidney, as well as four of her siblings. She is survived by her sister, Annie, as well as daughter, Sheree (Wayne), and son Michael (Deanna), Grandchildren Brandon, Brant and Erica, and Great Grandchild, Kelsey. She will be joining Sidney at the National Cemetery at Riverside, Ca., on February 23rd, 2021. Due to Covid and travel restrictions, the service will be limited to immediate family only. A celebration of her life will be held at a future date when the pandemic that claimed her is brought under control.
The family would like to give special thanks to the staff of Lincoln Glen Manor in Willow Glen where Louise enjoyed living during the last decade of her life.