Jerry Fedrick, 48, is special, the kind of guy you feel comfortable with at first word.
So it's no wonder St. Joseph Hospital in Orange hired him as its official patient greeter, perhaps the only position of its kind in any Orange County medical facility and possibly elsewhere.
"I guess I can relate to people," said Fedrick, an unassuming sort who stations himself at the hospital's front door, wearing a distinctive burgundy jacket over his 225-pound, 6-foot-tall frame.
Before he assumed his new position in January, Fedrick had worked 10 years as the hospital's parking lot attendant and safety officer, collecting parking fees and patrolling the parking lot to prevent theft.
"We needed someone who was personable and had an outgoing personality," said Jerry Dunn, director of personnel, "so we went right to Jerry. He's charming, imposing and perhaps the most gentle man you could meet."
The 505-bed, acute-care hospital's sometime confusing maze of buildings and its circular driveway entrance tend to promote traffic jams from incoming patients and visitors who seem more concerned about themselves or their loved ones than other cars. That created the need for someone to keep things moving.
They brought in Fedrick.
"I just help people out," said the former Iowa resident, who added that he really doesn't know what to do when confronted with people worried about coming to the hospital, "but somehow I get the job done."
Fedrick, whose mother, Eva Fedrick, has worked 22 years as a nursing attendant at the hospital, said he doesn't know how people feel when they come to the hospital because he has never had an operation.
"I have everything in me that God originally gave me," he said.
It's that unassuming charisma that seems to enchant those he greets.
"I don't know how to put it," he said, "but I talk to a lot of people, and they want to listen even though my vocabulary is only about five words. I guess I do help a lot of people because the higher-ups think I 'm doing a good job out here."
He did say, however, that 10 years ago he had bright red hair and now it's white.
"And I'm not even a worrier," he said.
Father's Day seemed a fitting time, so Jeff Schwartz, 32, of Anaheim arranged for his father, Emeric Schwartz, his aunt and three uncles to celebrate with a party today on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
Having it on the ship was important because the family left Romania 48 years ago and sailed to America on the Queen Mary, her last trip before converting to a troop ship during World War II.
"The family has never been back on the ship," Schwartz said, "so besides celebrating Father's Day, they have a chance to remember that trip."
He said the brothers and sister, Emeric, 58; Mickey, 62; Gene, 60; Joe, 66, and Alice, 63, all live in the San Fernando Valley.
A special cake and tour is being provided today by the ship for the brothers and sisters and about 35 other family members.
C. William Blodgett, 58, an executive with Beatrice/Hunt-Wesson Inc., a food processing company based in Fullerton, has a dandy sense of humor, so when he announced his retirement, his friends decided a roast was in order.
Emceed by Robert Beach, director of industrial relations, these one-liners were tossed out:
"Bill prides himself on being a self-made man, but that was before there was quality control.
"His father told him not to go about getting any bright ideas, and sure enough he hasn't.
"When he was a youngster, his mother sent his picture to Ripley and Ripley sent it back and said 'I don't believe it.'
"Usually we roast the ones we love, but tonight we break that tradition."
It took 136 children, who formed teams, to bake the cookies and brownies for the bake-off sale at Sowers Middle School in Huntington Beach. The goodies must have tasted great, because the sale netted $2,000, according to event chairwomen Rebecca Katow and Samantha Chagollan.
Part of the fun, which also included a lunchtime candy sale, included cookie judging by Los Angeles Rams lineman Duvall Love. He picked the creations of Michelle Moshiri and Jacqueline Angrisani, who shared the $100 first place prize.
But the real thrill for all the youngsters was making out two checks for $1,000 each, which were presented to the Rodgers Senior Outreach Program and Lake Park TLC, both in Huntington Beach.
San Clemente High School in February put together a 16-piece jazz band and, remarkably, won its division with a superior rating over 17 high school jazz bands in the recent Fullerton College 15th Annual Jazz Festival.
With the win, Bob D. Avzaradel, 25, of Irvine, director of instrumental music at San Clemente High, was awarded a summer tuition scholarship to attend the Jamey Aebersold seminar in Chicago.
He may not need it. The seminar is titled "How to Teach Jazz."