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DOWNEY – The Downey YMCA honored longtime community leaders Dr. Mary Stauffer and Bob and Jean Brazelton during a gala dinner at the Long Beach Yacht Club last month.
Stauffer and the Brazeltons were presented with the YMCA Exceptional Service Award, the highest award given by the Downey YMCA.
Below are biographies on the award recipients, as provided by the YMCA.
Dr. Mary Stauffer has lived her life by leading with wisdom and passion. She is a woman who has given innumerable “matchless moments” to those of all ages. She has said, “Education is the way to knowledge, knowledge creates wisdom, and wisdom is the key to action.
Stauffer was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. She graduated from Capital University Magna Cum Laude and first in her class. She went on to medical school at Ohio State University. In 1943, she married her husband, Floyd, a Navy doctor. They opened their medical practices and raised five children. Dr. Stauffer did research with the first electron microscope in the United States. The Biological Science Building at Downey High School is named Stauffer Hall.
Dr. Mary Stauffer worked in the medical field for 63 years, beginning in 1934 as a volunteer lab technician. At age 94, Dr. Stauffer retired from her medical practice but continued working…. this time as the CEO and COO of her foundation.
Through the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation, she has been able to “invest in the education of students in Downey.” Dr. Stauffer’s favorite saying is “Be the best you can be” and she encourages and rewards excellence so that students and teachers can truly “be the best they can be.”
Dr. Mary Stauffer has been a member of the following organizations since their founding and have been on the board of the Aerospace Legacy Society, Downey Sister Cities, Columbia Memorial Space Center Foundation, Christ Lutheran Church and True Lasting Connections. Dr. Stauffer is a staff member at Downey Community Hospital and Chief of Staff in 1972.
Stauffer is a long time member of the following organizations: Downey Rotary Club, Assistance League of Downey, PEO, Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, Gangs Out of Downey, PTA – active 25 years while children were in schools – joined in 1952, Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, HOME – Assistance League of Downey’s facility on Rancho property – helped to fund the building of the facility. In 1992 started the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation and have been CEO ever since.
Founded in 1992 activities funded by the Mary R. Stauffer foundation includes:
Scholarships and Grants: (on going scholarships and grants), Community College Grants for High School Seniors, Scholar Athlete Awards, Academic Excellence for 4.0 Juniors, started Scholarship College Funds for 6th and 7th grade students, matching scholarship grants for Delta Kappa Gamma and AAUW, California Lutheran College Scholarships, YMCA Scholarships for children to attend camp, funding for GOOD scholarships and teacher grants awarded to teachers with innovative projects
Stauffer was also a key in helping enhanced school facilities to include computer labs for all four middle schools, Cyberobics lab for West Middle Schools (West Middle School Cyberobics Lab won a Golden Bell Award) and fitness facilities for Downey High and Warren High. Dr. Stauffer also funded sound systems in classrooms for 4th-5th grade classrooms in eight elementary schools and various middle school and high school rooms as well as Emergency Carts for Downey High and Warren High.
In addition, Dr. Stauffer also funded programs at Warren High Culinary Arts Classroom equipment, Downey High, Warren High and West Middle School “Project Lead the Way”, pre-engineering program including equipment and teacher training, Downey High Photography and Journalism equipment for e-newspaper, Columbus High Technology Lab with equipment to produce a yearbook, funding for Character Counts and Pursuing Victory with Honor – lead teach and training for classroom teachers, Kids Day Donations, Cross Country Meet for Warren High – funded trophies, student tickets for Downey Civic Light Opera and Downey Symphony, Graphing Calculator loan program for student in need at Warren, TLC counseling services for elementary schools, library books for elementary schools, technology for Gallatin Elementary, Downey High AP Biology students to do research at Catalina Island, USC lab
She also provided opportunities for students to attend special programs such as Sally Ride Science Camp at Cal Tech, Cal State Long Beach Women in Engineering Field Trip for middle school girls, all 5th grade students to attend training at Columbia Memorial Space Center with expansion for middle school students to attend in 2012, traveling science programs for elementary and middle schools and Gene Autry Museum – sponsored educations carts about frontier living.
Fortitude, commitment and leadership qualities emerge from several key experiences in one’s life. The amazing paths forged by Bob and Jean Brazelton that helped develop these qualities stem back to seized opportunities in their youthful pasts.
In his freshman year at Cathedral High School in East Los Angeles, Bob failed to make the baseball team. He missed the try-outs his sophomore year after breaking his arm flipping off the high bar in a local park. His junior year looked equally dim until he begged a reluctant coach to allow him to pitch for the junior varsity team in a practice game with the varsity. Not one to shrink from a challenge, Bob proceeded to strike-out the entire varsity roster. He was handed a team uniform and told to report to practice the next day.
Bob excelled and earned a baseball scholarship to Loyola University and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The next year he took graduate classes at Loyola and played minor-league ball during the summer.
With the Korean War raging, Bob joined the Marines and served on the front lines while Armistice negotiations were being conducted. After the Armistice, he became the player-manager of the Marine Corps baseball team and won the Far East service championship. Returning home, Bob pursued a Master’s Degree in Education and proceeded to teach and coach at Garfield High School.
Meanwhile, back in St. Paul Minnesota, Jean graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of St. Catherine and spent her first year teaching high school English and Physical Education in a small farm town. Her adventuresome spirit, stimulated by her many years attending and counseling at summer camps around the country, inspired her to travel to a place where she could enjoy both year round sunshine and skiing. In the summer of 1953, Jean left chilly Minnesota and headed west, landing in Southern California.
Bob and Jean met soon after at a Catholic Alumni Club dance in Los Angeles, married, settled in Downey in 1957 and have called it home for 55 years.
Bob, graduating from Loyola Law School in 1958, began work as an attorney with Exxon and taught business law at UCLA. Subsequently, he served as Vice President/General Counsel for McCulloch Oil Corporation, which, besides the oil business, also founded Lake Havasu City and brought the London Bridge to Havasu. In the early 1970′s he hung his shingle in Downey and joined the Tredway Law Firm as a partner for 20 years. Presently, Bob practices business and estate planning law from his home.
Together, Bob and Jean have dedicated countless hours to community service. In the 1960′s they taught Confirmation classes to high school youth and served as board members for Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish council in the 80′s, helping to rebuild the earthquake damaged church.
Jean dedicated her child-rearing years to sharing her many talents. She founded the Great Books program at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school, served as a commissioner for the Downey Parks and Recreation Commission, coached basketball for her daughter’s Ponytail team and school team which won the CYO championship and was honored as a distinguished “Woman of Distinction” by the Downey Soroptimist Club. She also spent countless hours at the Downey Library assisting high school students in writing their college essays, as well as running the monthly book auctions. At home, Jean taught her six children how to read, write, ski and launch forth into the world with an adventuresome spirit.
During his busy working years, Bob also dedicated his time and talent to service. He formed the Downey Homeowners’ Association in the early 60′s and also chaired the committee that drafted the Downey City Charter. Over the years he coached his sons’ Gray-Y baseball, football and basketball teams and his daughter Anne’s softball team. He also coached the annual YMCA track meet and spent hours teaching his own children proper tennis strokes, batting stances and swings, and jump shots. His famous behind the back shot in “horse” on the basketball court still amazes his children! Bob also served two terms on both the Downey Planning Commission and the City Council, served as Mayor, as well as serving as President of the Los Amigos Kiwanis Club and a a member of the board of the Downey Community Hospital Foundation.
Both have been actively involved in the Downey YMCA since the late 60′s. They were active committee members during the rebuilding of the current YMCA structure and both served as a member of the Board of Managers over the years. Bob served on many fundraising campaigns for the YMCA and chaired Gray-Y committees. He led hikes in the mountains and attended Camp Fox with his two younger sons. Bob and Jean’s six children also enjoyed many summers as campers and counselors at YMCA’s Camp Whittle and enjoyed gymnastics and other classes at the Y.
Published: June 14, 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 09