YMCA honors Downey community leaders

DOWNEY – Three couples who have contributed decades of community service to the city of Downey were honored Sunday at a gala celebration at the Long Beach Grand. The event honored Bob and Joanne Earl, Joe and Dianne Lumsdaine, and Steve and Darlene Roberson.

The celebration served as a fundraiser for the Downey YMCA, and included live and silent auctions, video presentations, and remarks from the awardees’ friends and colleagues.

Below are bios on each of the couples, provided by the YMCA:

Bob and Joanne Earl

Through decades of dedicated service to their community and commitment to their family, Bob and Joanne Earl have created a lasting legacy. We honor their lifetime of service, leadership and loving commitment from which we have all benefited.

Bob Earl was born July 21, 1937  in his grandfather’s farm house in a small Arkansas town. When Bob was 2 years old, his father came to California in search of work, leaving Bob and his mother with his grandfather. When he was almost 4 years old, his dad came back and rescued him from Arkansas life and thus began Bob’s California existence.

After his father returned home from the service in 1947, Bob’s parents purchased a new home in Lakewood. From there he attended Paramount High School and then Compton Junior College. It was at Compton Junior College where he met his future bride, Joanne DiTolla.

Joanne was born and raised in South Gate, the daughter of Italian immigrants. Her parents set a wonderful example of creating a close family with strong bonds of love which Joanne and Bob have continued with their own children and grandchildren.

Joanne and Bob were married on Aug. 29, 1959. Their first child, Maryann, was born in 1961 in South Gate. Shortly before their son, Eddie, was born 19 months later in 1962, they purchased their home in northeast Downey, where they would remain until 2004.

After receiving his AA degree from Compton Junior College, Bob enrolled at Cal State Long Beach. After persistence and diligence for 14 years attending night courses at CSULB, Bob finally earned his degree in Business Administration with a major in marketing in 1971. Bob’s occupation during that time was outside industrial salesman for a small filter company in Long Beach.

By 1975, Bob had the ambition and determination to start his own company which he did in the spring of that year and he named it Aqua Tec Filter Company. Under Bob’s leadership, the company experienced rapid growth as a distributor of industrial and water filtration products. Eleven years after starting the company, Bob built his own industrial building in Santa Fe Springs as the new headquarters for the company. Aqua Tec Filter continued to grow as a family-run business, employing several family members including Joanne, Maryann, Eddie, Joanne’s sister and several nephews. The company continued to grow for another decade until Bob decided to sell it to a competitor from Maine in 1998.

Bob’s involvement with YMCA began when he and his son, Eddie, joined Indian Guides in the fall of 1967, as Big Sun and Little Sun. Within a year, Bob accepted the position as Chief of the Pawnee Tribe. The following year, Bob became the Y Indian Guide Nation Chief. By 1969 the boys had moved from Indian Guides to the Gra-Y Program. It was at that time both of Bob’s children, Maryann and Eddie, learned to swim in the YMCA’s old outdoor pool and Maryann also took gymnastic classes at the Y facility.

Bob was elected to the YMCA Board of Managers in 1971 and his dedication, commitment and responsibilities within the Y organization increased exponentially. He immediately began what would eventually become a decades-long annual support campaign effort. Bob served in every capacity from Teams Captain to Chairman of the Teams Campaign Section and then on to Major Gifts, where he was Major Gifts Chairman for two years. During this time, Bob and Bill Zacker co-chaired the YMCA Annual Golf Tournament for 20 years, raising well over $200,000 for our YMCA support.

During the critical years of 1976 and 1977, when the Downey Family YMCA’s physical education facility was constructed and dedicated, Bob took on additional responsibilities as Board Chairman, working determinedly to get construction competed.

In addition to supporting her husband’s efforts at the YMCA, Joanne began her community support by joining the Downey Juniors Women’s Club in 1967. She continued her volunteer service in various positions with the Catholic Women’s Guild and at her children’s schools, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Downey and St. Josephs High School.

Bob joined Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis in the spring of 1977 and remains a member today. He was elected Kiwanis President in October of 1986 and has held many of the other offices during the past 37 years with the organization. For three years, he chaired the Pathfinder Leadership Conference which invites local high school students in their junior year for a leadership weekend seminar. This outstanding program is still held yearly.

Bob’s service and dedication to the Downey Family YMCA has been recognized with several awards, including the Distinguished Service Award in 1980 and the Red Triangle Award in 1988. On May 16, 2007 the name of Edward (Bob) Earl was inscribed in the Golden Book of Distinguished Service of the Metropolitan Los Angeles YMCA.

Bob is now the longest-standing board member of the Downey Family YMCA with 43 years of continuous service.

Since retiring from their family business, Bob and Joanne now devote much of their time to their four grandchildren: Nicholas and Isabella, Maryann’s 13-year-old twins who live in L.A., and Evan, 14, and Erik, 12, the sons of Eddie and his wife, Sue, who live in San Diego. The grandchildren love spending time with “Nonnie and Papa” as Bob and Joanne are affectionately called.

On Aug. 29, Bob and Joanne celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Joe and Dianne Lumsdaine

Joseph Albert Lumsdaine was born in Shanghai, China on July 2, 1950, to Clifford Vere Lumsdaine and Miao Ying Ho Lumsdaine. The youngest of 11 children, Joe emigrated to California in 1962 and quickly adapted to his new home in Ventura, where he finished high school.

Joe completed his education in Northern California, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree with double majors in Philosophy and Psychology in 1973 from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1976, Joe graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, after having served on the school’s Moot Court Board and the Ecology Law Quarterly, serving for a time as Managing Editor, and publishing an article in that journal.

Dianne Niethamer Lumsdaine was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on Dec. 4, 1950 to Harry Niethamer and Clara Pearl Lilley. Her grandparents were immigrants from post WWI Germany and her German roots run very deep as the family enjoys a very close relationship with many relatives who still live in their homeland.

Dianne moved to California as a teenager, crossing the country with her family of six (seven if you count their dachshund) in a station wagon in 1964. She graduated from Bellflower High School in 1968 and from UC Berkeley with a degree in Psychology in 1973. In 1977, carrying her and Joe’s infant daughter in her arms, she received her Juris Doctor degree.

In Northern California, Joe and Dianne met, fell in love and got married in 1972. The couple married while working toward their undergraduate degrees at UC Berkeley. Joe and Dianne had their child, Jodi Anne, in 1976, shortly after Joe took the bar exam and while Dianne was in her third year of law school. Shortly after Dianne passed the bar exam, Joe and Dianne moved back to Southern California where they had three more children (Jennifer in 1979, Paul in 1982 and Charles “Casey” in 1988) and raised their family in Downey. They welcomed Jodi’s husband, Richard Chapin, in 2007 and Paul’s wife, Tiffany Kwong, in 2013 into the family as well. Jodi and Richard have blessed them with two grandchildren: Phoebe in 2011 and Lorelei “Lola” Chapin in 2013.

After working for the National Labor Relation Board in San Francisco and a labor law firm in Los Angeles, in 1979 Joe joined his current firm, known today as Tredway, Lumsdaine & Doyle LLP. Joe has been fortunate to practice with many great attorneys including law firm founder Harold Tredway, Long Beach family law attorney Brian Brandmeyer, current Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Torribio, and former Downey mayor Robert Brazelton. In over 30 years of legal practice, Joe has concluded more than 50 state and federal jury and court trials to verdict, involving business disputes, personal injury, real estate and probate litigation. He has been appointed numerous times by the Los Angeles County Superior Courts to serve as a Probate Volunteer Panel attorney, as Judge Pro Tem and as Mediator. He has received Martindale-Hubbell’s AV rating.

Joe primarily practices out of the Downey office of Tredway, Lumsdaine & Doyle but also works with clients from the firm’s offices in Irvine and Long Beach. In the past 10 years, Joe has primarily focused on probate, trust administration and related litigation. From 2009 to present Joe has been designated a “Super Lawyer” by L.A. Magazine Top Lawyers in Southern California publication.

Dianne practiced estate planning and family law early in her legal career, but as their family grew, Dianne decided she would take more time to raise their children than practice law. It was a decision she and Joe will never regret. While still a member in good standing with the state bar, Dianne focused her attention on family enrichment and community leadership while her family was young. She served as Girl Scout Leader, Cub Scout Den Mother, Great Books Coordinator, Baseball Team Mom, PTO President and more, and was able to be at all her children’s activities.

Dianne has served on the board and as chairperson of Arc of Los Angeles and Orange Counties for the past 21 years and has received their Community Service Award and Volunteer of the Year Award. She is the current chairperson of the Personnel Commission of the Downey Unified School District, a post she has held for 20 years. Dianne is a “Life” member of Soroptimist International of Downey, having served in many board positions, including President, and being recognized as a “Woman of Distinction” in 2009. Dianne served as chairperson of the Downey Community Hospital Memorial Trust Foundation. She also served a total of eight years on the Downey Planning Commission and has the distinction of being the only member of the Planning Commission to give birth while serving her term.

Joe has served on the board and as chairman of the Downey Family YMCA, as President and member of Habitat for Humanity, as the President and board member of the Southeast District Bar Association, on the board and as President of Arc Southeast L.A., on boards of the Downey Regional Medical Center and as coach and manager of East Long Beach Pony Baseball League teams. They have been residents of Downey for more than 35 years.

Joe and Dianne continue to be involved in their local community and their church, St. Dominic Savio Catholic Church in Bellflower. In 2006, Joe and Dianne obtained masters degrees in Pastoral Ministry from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and in 2010 Joe was ordained a deacon with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. They serve as a “deacon couple” at St. Dominic Savio Parish, performing many baptisms, as well as wedding and funerals. Dianne is also a Pastoral Associate at St. Dominic Savio and as such is responsible for ministry development, faith formation and evangelization.

Steve and Darlene Roberson

Steve Roberson was born in Wellington, Texas. He moved to Bell Gardens in 1957 where he grew up. Steve attended Bell Gardens High School and went on to East Los Angeles College and graduated form Cal State los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Darlene was born in Los Angeles. She went to Dorsey High School, West Los Angeles College and took some classes at Cal State Los Angeles. She started working for Pacific Telephone when she was 17 years old.

Pacific Telephone is where Steve and Darlene met. They worked as Service Reps together in Los Angeles. They got married in 1976 in Las Vegas. They have two sons, Joshua and Patrick, and three grandchildren, Madison Paige (almost 8), Jacob Stephen (7 1/2) and Abigail Lynne (4 1/2). In 1978, they moved to Downey and have been active members in the community for 36 years. About 16 years ago, they moved to Fullerton.

Darlene retired after 32 years with AT&T and went to work with Steve at Century 21 in 2000.

Steve had been an account executive and a national account manager for AT&T for 14 years. Seeking a new challenge and wanting to spend more time with his sons coaching their Little League baseball teams, Steve left AT&T in 1986 and went to work for Century 21 My Real Estate Company in Downey. Steve helped to establish the company as a prominent figure in the Century 21 system.

Steve has been with Century 21 My Real Estate for 28 years, including as broker/owner the past 20 years. Steve is very proud to own a company that promotes excellence in providing quality customer service within their community and supports many organizations in the Downey community.

Steve has served as chairman of the Downey YMCA for two consecutive terms and has been a board member for over 17 years. He was honored to receive the Red Triangle Award as well as the Distinguished Service Award. Steve and Darlene’s sons learned to swim at the Y, and their youngest son went to the YMCA after school care, so they have been involved with the Y for a long, long time. Steve and Darlene’s oldest granddaughter, Madison, started in the Y’s Mommy and Me swimming program when she was just a baby and she has been swimming ever since. Madison has also participated in the Y’s dance and gymnastics programs.

In addition to the YMCA, Steve has a personal commitment to helping Downey and its schools. He is an avid supporter of the schools through his participation in annual career day programs and making contributions to the athletic departments as well as academic and support groups. Steve is currently the President of the Arc, is a member of the Kiwanis Foundation Board of Directors, past president of the Downey Association of Realtors, past president of Kiwanis, and past NBCC representative for Century 21 Corporation.

Steve and his outstanding office support many organizations in Downey such as Los Amigos Kiwanis, Gangs Out of Downey, Downey Chamber of Commerce, Downey Unified School district, Downey Rose Float Association, Downey Second Century Foundation, MADD, PTA Helps Kitchen, Exchange Club, Arc, and Character Counts.

Supporting Easter Seals of Southern California, Steve’s office had made a donation of over $250,000 over the past 20 years. Steve and his office also host a semi-annual blood drive for the American Red Cross. Steve’s office has been awarded the number one fundraiser in Southern California by Century 21 since 2007 and is consistently awarded Production and Quality Service awards every year for over 39 years, making his office a well respected name within the Century 21 community.

Steve has been awarded Broker of the Year twice by the Downey Association of Realtors and Large Office of the Year three times by the same organization. Steve’s office won Real Estate Office of the Year as well as Business of the Year by the Downey Chamber of Commerce. Steve received the prestigious Kiwanis of the Year award and was also named Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis Distinguished President of the Year. The Downey Chamber of Commerce named Steve the Volunteer of the Year. Steve also completed classes at Point Loma College in 2001 to achieve his teaching credential.

In addition to Steve and Darlene’s busy, sometimes hectic schedule, they are able to relax and enjoy their grandchildren. They are very fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with them.

In 2007, Steve bought some land in the small town where he was born in Wellington, Texas, population about 2,200 people. On the 150 acres, Steve and Darlene built a house. There they have two horses, 18 cows, 16 calves, and one bull. Steve and Darlene visit their Texas ranch about every other month, checking on the animals and visiting with Steve’s mom, who lives a few blocks away. Steve and Darlene’s grandkids love to go to Texas where they ride the horses, awake to the mooing of the cows, rope a fake bull, and just enjoy being in the country.

Steve and Darlene also have two horses they keep in Whittier.



Published: Oct. 2, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 25