When Laguna Woods became a city in 1999, Brenda Ross became a politician for the first time. She was 83 years old. Seven years later, Ross is still on the Laguna Woods city council—she's been mayor a couple of times too, along the way—and at 90 she knows that her age makes her a little unusual. But not that unusual. After all, Laguna Woods is a city birthed by the retirement community of Leisure World.
"I realize that I am a model for a lot of people," says Ross. "I also realize that I am fortunate. I've always had a lot of energy and I've still got good health. But I've always been active and involved. That's not new or strange for me."
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Ross has lived in California since 1975. But she first became familiar with this state in the 1940s when she was in the Army. During those years she was also stationed in Switzerland, where she met her husband-to-be, Mathew Ross. They married in 1947, and they're still together.
Over the years, Mrs. Ross has poured her efforts into broad issues like aging and specific fights like the battle against the El Toro Airport. These days she's working to help Laguna Woods build a city hall.
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"I love being involved," she says, "and I am fortunate that I still can be."
Channel 6 morning weather report."We have our own TV station here in Laguna Woods, and I like to start the day by getting an idea of what kind of day it's going to be. But the station is more than weather. It's got news, free movies, shopping specials and coverage of all the local events. I love it."
Babe's Cafe."A great place for breakfast. I keep it simple—eggs, sunnyside—but they do everything at this cute little cafe that's kind of hidden in the Vons shopping center." 24310 Moulton Pkwy., Ste. L, Laguna Hills, (949) 380-0465.
Hiking Laguna Canyon."It's wonderful to be able to enjoy unspoiled nature so close to the city, and get some exercise too." 20101 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 923-2235.
Las Brisas. "There's nothing like a delicious seafood meal—I like any kind of fish—while enjoying the view of the Pacific from this beautiful place." 361 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach,(949) 497-5434.
Bowers Museum. "There's always something beautiful or interesting to experience. Most recently my favorite was the King Tut exhibit." 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 567-3600.
Advanced Ear Care."The best place to get a hearing aid. Someone referred me here 20 years ago when I was desperate—I needed an adjustment and my company was out of business—and I've been going there ever since. Lots of baby boomers are going to need this place because of all the loud concerts they attended and it's better to go sooner rather than later, because once you lose your hearing you never get it back. And I need my hearing: I can't run a city council meeting if I can't hear what people are whispering about me!" 24310 Moulton Pkwy., Ste. D, Laguna Woods, (949) 830-5330.
Golden Dragon."Wonderful Chinese food! Everything is good but I always order the snow peas. I like anything with snow peas in it." 2023 Harbor Blvd., Ste. A, Costa Mesa, (949) 642-7162.
Heisler Park. "With its gardens, tables and barbecues, it's a perfect picnic place." Coast Hwy., between Aster and Myrtle sts., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-0716.
Henry's Marketplace."This is where I go to buy my fruits and vegetables but they sell meat and many organic foods too, along with bins full of grains and nuts." 27271 La Paz Rd., Ste. B, Laguna Niguel, (949) 349-1999.
South Coast Repertory."I like that experimental theater—you never know what you are going to get but it is always thought-provoking. I usually get season tickets." 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555.
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