DOWNEY - Beverly Mathis has over the years among other things served two terms as president of Soroptimist International of Downey, one term as president of the Assistance League of Downey, and served on the boards of the former Downey Regional Medical Center and the old Downey Museum of Art, while being made a life member of the Los Angeles Children's Hospital's San Antonio Guild (Downey chapter), and has played a particularly active and visible role as a volunteer for several years at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, especially in the last four years as she chaired its major fundraiser, the Amistad annual event.It is generally recognized that it was during her term as Amistad chair, in 2011, that the gala event raised the most money before or since (it was in the middle six-figure range). In addition, Mathis has for the last 20 years chaired the Downey Optimist Scholarship awards and programs, and has recently been appointed to the Downey Library Advisory Board. A member of the Downey Soroptimist club since 1984, she is currently on its board of directors. She has chaired Soroptimist's scholarship program for the past several years. A member of the Assistance League of Downey since 1989, she has served as treasurer for two terms, has chaired fundraising events, and has been a member of the board for the last 15 years. Beverly has in the meantime been extremely involved with the Assisteens Auxiliary. She has also taken over as chairman of the H.O.M.E. philanthropic project, which she describes as a "10-unit apartment complex adjacent to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Hospital. Built and operated by the Assistance League of Downey, it provides temporary, low-cost housing to families who have loved ones in rehabilitative care at Rancho." These and her other community involvements have resulted in her being honored with such distinctions as the Soroptimist Woman of Distinction and Life Membership Awards as well as, with husband Sam, sharing Mayor Mario Guerra's Diakonia Award for community service in August. What is little known is that she's a product of Downey's school system: she belonged to the first graduating class of what was then known as North Jr. High and graduated from Downey High School. She has been a Downey resident for 60 years, and works as office manager for AD-DE-PRO, Inc., a small machine tools manufacturing company in Downey which was founded in the 70's and which she co-owns with her only son, Andy. Its products cater to the aircraft and helicopter industries via intermediate layers of middlemen. Sam, who is very active as well raising funds while on the board of the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, runs his own company, Sam's Roofing, a building supplies store in Paramount. Beverly has maintained her interest in calligraphy, as a hobby. She says etching on hard, special paper such as vellum tends to relax her. Of good health, she likes to cook. Another favorite pastime is reading (mostly spy novels but also serious stuff such as history); historical fiction is okay. She says she is currently into Ken Follett's second volume ("Winter of the World") of his trilogy. Her great passion, though, seems to be travel. She says she's been to every country in Europe. "Our favorite is Italy," she says, because of the culture, its history, the food, the art, the wine. "Italians are more animated, more dramatic, more passionate. We've been to the Vatican, of course, many times and seen the [glories] of the Sistine Chapel. We'll start in Rome, then proceed north as far as Lake Como, then swing down to the south, to Naples and Sicily. We've recently been this summer to Capri-what a beautiful place!" "We also want to spend as much time with our 13-year old grandson, Andrew, son of Andy. He's our joy," says Beverly. "Every couple of weeks this summer, we'd take him to Yellowstone and like places." "We have so many good friends in Downey," Beverly goes on. "I feel very fortunate in knowing a lot of good and caring people here. Downey is a wonderful place to live. There are so many wonderful things here, so many volunteers. You get the feeling of pride to be in a community where there are so many service organizations, so many cultural things. We're very fortunate." Do you have any interesting observations in the course of your travels, I asked. "Why, yes," she said. "You get to appreciate the U.S. more. You get the feeling that indeed you live in the greatest country in the world. In other countries, you'll notice there's still a class system operating. Here, if you take the opportunity to get a good education and you work hard, you can have a very good life."
********** Published: Dec. 26, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 37