We are delighted to introduce you to Marie Rae Gurule as part of our “Neighbor of the Month” series-an effort started in 2013 to highlight Elysian Valley residents and stakeholders. It is our sincere hope that doing so contributes in some fashion to better know one another, build, grow and appreciate the make-up of our community. The NW thanks Marie Rae Gurule for her contribution to Elysian Valley.
Marie Rae Gurule was born in Glendale, CA and has called Elysian Valley home for 53 years. She is one of three siblings. Her parents Robert and Marie Gurule were from Colorado and her grandparents from Spain. She lives in the same property on Fernleaf St. purchased then by her parents for $1,600.
Marie’s father served in the U.S. Coastguard and ran Black Top Electric from the present day location of Kessler plumbing on Riverside Dr. Her mother was a beautician with a salon just a few doors removed from her father’s business. Her father too owned the LA Outlaws , a semi-pro football team in the early 1980’s.
Marie attended Dorris Place Elementary school and has fond memories of the Halloween Festival and Mr. Strickland. She remembers walking home from school with her friends when not picked up by the St. Ann’s Parish Church nuns for catechism education. Marie attended Irving Middle School, John Marshall High School and graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in theater, acting and directing-becoming the first in her family to earn a four-year college education. While still in school, Marie served as president of the on campus Creative Alliance for Students and Theater (CAST). She is most proud of directing the play “Mexican Ville” a story about a barrio guy who betters his life through education only to be accidentally killed during his graduation party. “Having earned a college degree, against all odds, is the single thing I am most proud of,” says Marie. “That is something no one can take from me.”
Marie has two children (Andres & Alexa Rae), which she has raised with great emphasis in developing their mind, body and spirit. God is very important to me, says Marie. Being a Christian Catholic and seeing the public schools remove God all together, moved her decision to place her children in private school.
Marie is a Girl Scout leader, and has had as many as 30 girls in her troop at any given time. Both of Marie’s parents were troop leaders in Elysian Valley, which makes easy to see why becoming a Scout leader was natural. She tears up when speaking about the accomplishments of Natalie Moreno. She became the first Girl Scout from Elysian Valley to earn her Ambassador Gold Award. Natalie too served on the Elysian Valley Riverside Neighborhood Council, having convinced the majority to change the bylaws to allow her to serve at 17 years old.
Marie is multi-talented, having worked as a Ralphs cashier in her early years and driven for DHL and Fed-EX while in college. She has run a successful day care from her house for the past nine years. “It really does take a village to raise a community,” say Marie. She joined the Neighborhood Council wanting to make a difference in her community. “I want to lead by example and show others that anything is possible.” She hopes that others will want to serve and lead in favor of Elysian Valley youth.
When asked to recall what made then and now life in Elysian Valley special, Marie references the central location, area safety and neighbors seeing each other as family. She believes the attention that Elysian Valley is enjoying is long overdue. She hopes that this attention comes with added services needed, most especially services to area youth (including recreation and transportation). “It is shameful to have our children lost for lack of resources.”
Marie hopes to be remembered as someone who cared to make a difference and hopes that programs she has helped start will have sustainability long after she’s gone.