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Meet Irvine’s First Female Mayor, Gabrielle Pryor

Gabrielle “Gaby” Pryor was a Navy brat; Her father was a World War II submarine captain and held a series of important posts all over the country, including the Pentagon. So, while Pryor was born in New London, Connecticut, her life was spent in many other locations.

Eventually, Gaby settled in Palo Alto to attend Stanford University. Before diving into politics, Gaby’s passion was singing. While attending college, she met her future husband, Larry Pryor, in her university chorus. After graduating in 1961, she attended Guildhall School of Music in London to study voice and opera.

It wasn’t until she moved to Irvine in 1968 that Gaby started becoming more involved with the community. While Larry was working as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Pryor became involved in the inner workings of the Community Association in University Park.

California Real Estate Giant, Irvine Company, already had quite an influence over the small town beginning in 1959. But when various Irvine communities voted to incorporate in 1971, Gaby was concerned that the Irvine Company was financing the notion. With four other individuals, Gaby helped start the political slate, Irvine Tomorrow- a movement that was dedicated to protecting Irvine’s open space and future. Gaby and three of her colleagues all won seats on the first city council, and she was eventually elected as the first woman mayor in 1974. With her party having the majority of the seats, she was able to pass a $50 million park bond, which secured a large percentage of open space for Irvine.

In an interview with The Daily Bulletin, Gaby described how she developed her taste for social justice from her mother. “My father was away fighting in World War II and the Korean War, so we were basically raised by our mother. She was the one dragging us around the country and teaching us about our country. She taught us that different people are OK. If you go to a new town every two years, you must learn to adapt and be tolerant of others.”

Gaby continued her political career as an assistant manager in the City of San Dimas from 1986 to 1989. In 1990, her final political position was as the City of La Canada Flintridge’s City Manager, where she oversaw a population of 20,500 residents with a budget of $6.8 million.

Despite working in local government, Gaby could never get away from the arts. She retired from politics in 2000 and went on to become an Executive Director of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus from 1998 to 2002, and then as a consultant on arts in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She fully retired in 2009.

Larry and Gaby first learned about Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC) while touring the Huntington Landmark Community. They were very impressed with the facility and made it one of the major reasons to move to Huntington Beach. Now, Gaby attends twice a week and enjoys participating in the weekly trivia and singing sessions. Larry has said AFC has been beneficial for both of them because it not only lets Gaby interact with other patients but also allows Larry to complete any errands while knowing that his wife is in good hands.

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