Louise Jorgensen (April 16, 1896 – May 28, 1995) was the "one-woman powerhouse" behind the annual Oakland Christmas Pageant from 1919 until 1987.
Jorgensen was the youngest of 3 daughters of Sophie Gulbrosen (Jorgensen) and Victor C. Jorgensen, and was born in San Francisco. Her father was a ship's steward and was frequently away from home, so Sophie not only worked at Golden Gate Park, she raised Louise and the other children. After their home was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, they moved to Oakland, where Louise graduated from Oakland Tech in 1916.
A professional dancer, Jorgensen returned to Oakland from a promising career in New York, where she had studied under Ruth St. Denis. Jorgensen sometimes performed under the name Virginia Lee. 2
Oakland Parks and Recreation hired her as the pageant director, and the rest of the year she taught dance. She is remembered for her patience and ability to get young people to behave without raising her voice:
"She had a gift for teaching children, for making them want to do their best for her," said San Francisco resident Virginia Rocha, 37, an architect who danced with the pageant from kindergarten through college. "She could make the rowdiest kids do what she wanted without raising her voice. And she could get awfully shy little girls to blossom." 1
One of Jorgensen's favorite places was Children's Fairyland. She's remembered there with several fairy statues.
Links and References
- A Beloved Pageant SFGate.com December 28, 1998
- Oakland Girl Now Famous On Stage For Her Dancing Oakland Tribune May 23, 1921