Effective this September, West Middle School will be renamed Stauffer Middle School, an homage to Dr. Mary Stauffer who has given millions of dollars to Downey's children. After hearing from about two dozen speakers -- all in favor of the name change -- the seven-member board of education unanimously agreed to honor the 96-year-old philanthropist with her own school.
Stauffer, a retired physician and former chief of staff at Downey Community Hospital, founded the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation, which has given an estimated $5 million to Downey schools and students. She gives out thousands of dollars in scholarships to high school and middle school students each year, and funded computer labs at all four junior high schools.
Her contributions to the Downey students and teachers are - quite literally - too numerous to list.
"Dr. Stauffer espouses the qualities of those we want in our children, now and in the future," resident John Lacey said. He was one of several speakers to voice their support for Stauffer Middle School.
Betty Ferraro, a former Downey school board member, said Dr. Stauffer delivered her son several decades ago.
"She was the first person he saw, the first person he touched," she said. "How many other people in our community are lucky enough to say that?"
School district officials said the name change should be in place before the start of the next school year. In addition to signage, the district needs to purchase new stationary, gym clothes, and other items to reflect the new name.
West Middle School principal Alyda Mir said school staff was in favor of renaming the campus. She even suggested a new school motto: "See what Stauffer has to offer!"
Stauffer was present at Tuesday's school board meeting but did not speak. In the past, she has called her contributions "an investment in our community."
"I believe every once in a while God sends an angel to walk among us," said Ed Potter, a retired DUSD administrator. "I believe one of those angels is Mary Stauffer."