Wanda Combs-Moore, who started as clerk typist and advanced to become chief administrative officer to L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley, passed away on January 1.
One of the highest-ranking African American women in the Bradley administration, Wanda was recognized for her intelligence, management and leadership skills throughout her career. In addition to serving 22 years in the mayor’s office, she was a talk show host, a motivational speaker and an author.
Raised in South Los Angeles, Wanda was remembered as a “smart, beautiful, and popular” teen by her daughter, Dr. Michele M. Bowers. After graduating from Centennial High School in Compton, Wanda applied to as a clerk typist with the City of Los Angeles and interviewed 30 times before being hired.
“My mother was an extremely strong Black woman. She taught me how to be strong in the face of adversity and calm in the midst of crisis and controversy. She taught me resilience and persistence,” said Michele.
And persistence paid off for Wanda, leading to multiple promotions to positions of increasing responsibility and her appointment with Mayor Bradley. Following her city tenure, she hosted “Weekend Gallery” and “Pacesetters” on KTLA-TV. She also served as an event planner and a public affairs consultant.
One characteristic that remained constant with Wanda was her stylish, sophisticated attire. Admirers recall how her fashionable outfits were as memorable as her brilliant intellect and confident demeanor.
“My mother was the classiest lady that I know. She had presence, style, and grace. She would light up a room whenever she came in. The way she carried herself demanded your full attention. Her self-confidence, poise, and quiet strength were unrivaled,” insisted Michele.
“While all of these qualities truly make Lady Wanda an unforgettable woman, the most memorable thing we should know about her is that she was a change maker and stereotype breaker. She didn’t let discrimination or prejudice, based on gender or ethnicity, stop her from finding a way to make a place for herself and proving her worth,” her daughter said.
“There is no question that Wanda Moore was an ambitious, competitive, and brilliant African American woman. She was highly respected, no-nonsense and driven when it came to business – she could get things done and make things happen. She was a powerful influencer in our community.”
Many people consider Wanda’s biographical memoir, “Never, Never Give Up!” as a testament to her perseverance. Her publications and recordings -“Success is a Decision” “For You Black Woman,” and “How to Discover the WHO You Are!” – have inspired countless others.
She received commendations and awards from the city and county of Los Angeles, the state of California, NAACP, and the L.A. Sentinel. Also, the Los Angeles Association of Black Personnel renamed their Career Service Award as “The Wanda” in her honor.
A strong woman of faith, Wanda was a longtime member of Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles. A celebration of her life is planned for Friday, February 11, at Inglewood Park Cemetery.
Cherishing her memory are her daughter, Dr. Michele Bowers; son, Marlin W. Moore, and a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, family and friends.