When Diane Morton began considering her legacy, she looked to the Music Center Foundation (MCF) for advice. She reached out to her friend, Peter Mullin, who at the time was the Chairman of the Music Center Foundation, to discuss opportunities. The appeal of the MCF was that it is not political and it is solely focused on providing endowment support for the Music Center and Resident Companies. The Music Center is also very efficient and effective with low administrative expenses, strong investment performance, and excellent planned giving support.
Diane Morton was born and raised in Spring Valley, NY, a small village near Poughkeepsie. As a teenager, she would travel the 25 miles to New York City by train and bus to see Broadway shows, music concerts, and visit the museums. This is where her love and appreciation of the arts began. Diane remembers seeing legends such as Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, and Glen Miller.
When she graduated from high school, she headed west to UCLA where she studied education. Diane became a teacher in the LA schools after graduation. A few years later she taught reading disabled students in a private school in Los Angeles. She also met her first husband at UCLA, who was a theater art’s major. This solidified her love of theater along with the appreciation of music.
In the 1980’s Diane became more involved with the Music Center. She joined Club 100 and the Blue Ribbon. She has particularly enjoyed the Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival over the years. This annual event brings fifth grade students from all over Los Angeles to the Music Center for three days to get exposure to the performing arts. Diane is especially happy about the students that would otherwise not have the opportunity to see a performance at the Music Center. Diane proudly served as the Chair of the Festival in 1993.
Sadly, Diane’s first husband passed away at a young age. After several years, she married Leon Morton. Mr. Morton had a love for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and this enhanced her appreciation for symphonic music. They were dedicated subscribers to the LA Philharmonic and Center Theatre Group. Diane and Leon were also good friends of Walter Grauman and his wife Peggy Parker Grauman. Walter was the founder of the Spotlight Program at the Music Center. Diane became a supporter of this fantastic program which empowers students by emphasizing preparation, courage, critical thinking and perseverance while providing an invaluable opportunity for students to hone their performance skills.
Diane joined the Center Theatre Group (CTG) Board of Directors in 1994 and continues to serve as an emeritus member. She appreciates CTG’s support of the community and young audiences with programs like Young Audience Performances and the August Wilson Monologue Competition. While Diane has continued to make current gifts to support Blue Ribbon, the Music Center, and Resident Companies, she and Leon started considering leaving a legacy in the late 1990’s. They wanted to create endowments for the organizations they love. Diane and Leon made their first bequest commitments with Estate Notes in 1997. In the past several years, Diane has significantly her increased her bequest pledges with gifts designated to all the Resident Companies, Blue Ribbon, Dance, and Spotlight. She is particularly supportive of CTG and the Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival.
Diane feels fortunate that she has no children that need support from her estate and she has reached a time in her life when she does not need to buy new stuff. She is accumulating wealth for her legacy to her two loves, the Music Center and the Jewish Home. Bravo Diane!
Susan and Peter van Haften
Susan and Peter van Haften have been in love with theater for a long time. They were subscribers with Center Theatre Group (CTG) from the beginning in the mid-1960s. Hello Dolly was a fond memory of a show they saw in the early years.
When they decided to consider a legacy gift to support CTG, they reached out to the Music Center Foundation for guidance. Susan and Peter found the assistance they received from the Foundation very helpful in crafting their estate plan and achieving their philanthropic goals.
Susan and Peter came to Southern California from different parts of Michigan in the early 1960’s. Susan first moved to Washington, DC first to work for the Bureau of Ships, Nuclear Division. They met in Los Angeles, while working for the same company. Susan went on to become the first female Plant Manager for a division of Mobile Oil. Peter became the Director of Global Real Estate for TRW for the last 13 years of his working career.
They developed an interest in theater back in Michigan. Susan then enjoyed larger productions in Washington, DC. Soon after they married and settled in Los Angeles, they were thrilled that the Music Center was opening and Center Theatre Group was beginning to produce and present plays. They have enjoyed the growth of CTG under the artistic leadership of first, Gordon Davidson, and then Michael Ritchie. They are excited about the new Manager Director, Meghan Pressman and the experience she brings from Washington, DC.
Peter talks about the remarkable change in performing arts in Los Angeles over the past 60 years and the continuity of the traditional performing art venues at the Music Center. They believe this has been a significant factor in the migration of talent to the West Coast from New York and London. In their opinion this cultural development has been a centerpiece for the progressive growth of central Los Angeles.
Susan and Peter enjoy all theater. They attend performances in all three of CTG’s theaters; The Taper, Ahmanson, and Kirk Douglas theaters. The August Wilson plays are among their favorites. They have also been important supporters of CTG for many years. In addition to theater, they have been subscribers to the Hollywood Bowl for the past 15 years.
Their experience with the Music Center Foundation has been very positive. “They listened and understood our needs and objectives. After explaining alternatives, they helped us, with our advisors, adopt a plan to meet our needs and help us become significant donors.”