After working in various capacities for the Downey Unified School District for 30 years, Supt. Manuel Gallegos has announced that he will take early retirement in March at age 59.
Gallegos, who has been superintendent since 1971, submitted his letter of resignation to the school board Monday. Board President Walter Temple said the board members accepted the letter with deep regret. "Obviously you're going to be missed," Temple said.
In an interview, Gallegos said he picked this time to retire because the school district is running well and it will give the board time to select a new superintendent who will not have "any messes to clean up."
"We have an excellent staff, the kids are achieving well and we've finished negotiating with all three unions," he said.
Immediate plans after retirement include traveling to England and Dallas in the spring, he said. He also plans to travel across the United States with his wife to get reacquainted with his grandchildren. Upon the couple's return, he said he will explore various business opportunities.
"It's been most gratifying to work here. I've . . . enjoyed it thoroughly," he said, adding that it is time to do something else. His last day will be Feb. 28.
Gallegos, a graduate of Whittier College, began working in Downey as a fifth grade teacher in 1955. He was appointed principal four years later. Gallegos then worked as assistant superintendent for three years before he was appointed to the district's highest office in 1971.
"He's been a very special superintendent," said Trustee Grace Horney, who is the only member left of the board that originally hired Gallegos. "He is a real product of the Downey system."
The board, which has not yet decided what criteria will be used for the selection of a new superintendent, will hire a consultant to aid in the selection process, Horney said. She said the board will not rush the process, and members are "willing to go without (a superintendent) for a few months until we find the right one."
The International City Management Assn. has presented its annual management innovation award for arts and cultural programs in local government to Howard Chambers, city administrator of Lakewood. Chambers was honored for the use of multiple-source funding and creating a partnership between public and private agencies in constructing and operating Sycamore Plaza, a community arts and education facility in the Lakewood Civic Center.
Steve Lansing of Long Beach captured both the best-of-show and best Long Beach photograph categories in a contest sponsored by Norland Properties and ARCO Center. Other Long Beach residents who won were Chris Provost and Patricia Dietrick, second and third place respectively for Long Beach photographs; Joan R. Sisson, first and second place in black-and-white; Mitch Kaufman, third place black-and-white and second place color; and Peg Owens Hamende, third place color.
Mary Lou Warino won a $100 prize and best-of-show ribbon in the sixth annual Festival of Color, an arts and crafts show sponsored by the Arts Colony of La Mirada and held at the Whittwood Mall in Whittier. Other top winners were Sharon Annunzio, first place an paintings; and Dorothy Miller, first place in crafts.
Theodore R. Matt, 43, has been promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. The Long Beach resident is executive officer of the 414th Medical Service Squadron at March Air Force Base near Riverside. He previously served on active duty as an intelligence officer with the Air Defense Command and Strategic Air Command, interviewing and debriefing returning combat pilots. Since 1971, Matt has been employed by the Bellflower Unified School District in vocational education and work experience training. He was instrumental in founding the district's consumer education program at Bellflower High School in 1974. Matt currently serves as project manager of the district's Job Training Partnership Act program.
Volunteer workers at Charter Suburban Hospital in Paramount were honored during an awards and recognition dinner. Those who each served 1,000 hours or more are Barbara Beals, Thelma Berens, Lillian Brown, Helen Melton, Frances Mies and Doris Wilson.
Dr. Donald Desfor, Cerritos College professor of photography and physical education for 28 years, was elected to the board of directors of the International Visual Literacy Assn. which recently held its 17th annual conference in Claremont. Desfor was recognized for his work in the use of photographs in therapy and his study of meanings that people attach to photographs.
Marina Castenada, a 20-year-old sophomore, was crowned homecoming queen at Cerritos College. She is studying for a career in bilingual special education.
Monica Morres was crowned homecoming queen at Norwalk High School to reign over a football game and school dance. She was crowned by last year's queen, Nancy Vos.