By Usha Sutliff

Staff Writer for the Pasadena Star News

October 3, 2000

PASADENA – A Temple City woman died and an unknown number of others fell ill after eating food at a Polynesian-style luau thrown by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 16, in Pasadena .

          “First of all, we’re sorry that anyone that attended any event sponsored by our church would ever become ill following the event,” said Randall Huff, president of the church’s Pasadena stake.  “We presently are unable to determine any cause or causes of the illnesses reported following the event and have offered our sympathy to those affected.”

          The evening luau was attended by more than 1, 200 people – Mormon and non-Mormon – who were offered a menu of roasted pig, teriyaki chicken, cabbage-based salad with oil and vinegar dressing and bread rolls.  Water was served with the meal, according to Huff.

          “We are trying to determine the cause…but we’re all puzzled right now as to what the cause may be.  Some people ate only salad and got sick.  Some people ate only rolls and got sick.  Most people ate everything and didn’t get sick,” he said.

          Between 100 and 200 people told church representatives in the days following the luau that they felt ill, he said.

          “Most people reporting illness following the event only suffered minor gastrointestinal distress for approximately a day or less,” Huff said.

          But Mildred Mabb, an 80 year-old Temple City resident, died on Sept. 17, the day after the luau.

          Her son, Wayne , 48, said his mother felt fine when she came home from the feast Sept 16 about 10:30 p.m. , but by the next morning was so sick that paramedics were summoned.

          She was hospitalized, but aside from the food poisoning, doctors discovered that she had an “existing condition” that was most likely cancer, according to her son.  In the end, she contracted pneumonia and her heart failed, he added.

          “It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that occurred.  Any one of them probably wouldn’t have been fatal, but, put them all together and at her age, she wasn’t able to get over it…it was very quick,” Wayne Mabb said.

          Mildred Mabb, described by her son as “a very gentle person,” lived in Temple City for about 50 years.  She is survived by her son, a daughter, Beverly Morten, 41, of Rosemead , and her brother, Robert Thalimer, 78, of Long Beach .  Funeral services were held last Friday.

          Huff said the Mormon Church extended condolences to the family.

          “Sincere regrets were expressed to the family and, as we are a charitable organization, although we do not know the cause, we offered our help in any way we could.  Her surviving family members were very gracious,” Huff said.

          An additional four or five people were hospitalized, but were released after about a day, he added.