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She's Come a Long Way, Baby--Pharmacist's Work Honored at Hospital of Birth

January 06, 1991|LEE HARRIS

In 1950, Kazuko Matsumoto was the first pharmacy student intern hired by Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. And after 40 years, she is still with the department and has no plans to retire.

The medical center honored her recently during a reception. She is only the second employee in the history of the 84-year-old hospital to be honored for 40 years of service.

Matsumoto was given a dozen red roses, a gold name badge, a $200 gift certificate for dinner, free limousine service to the dinner and the right to park in the doctors' parking lot.

Parking in the physicians' lot on the grounds excited her the most, she said. Because parking is scarce she walks a couple of blocks from the hospital to her car.

The 60-year-old pharmacist said she has no plans to retire soon. Why should she? She is healthy, having last missed a day of work 15 years ago because of the flu. And she still finds the job stimulating.

She spent the first 20 years of her career filling prescriptions. And for the last 20 she has been the department's computer expert, writing programs that provide pharmaceutical information to doctors and pharmacists.

A native of Long Beach, Matsumoto was born at the hospital when it was known as Seaside Hospital.

At the beginning of World War II, Matsumoto was 11 and attending Edison Elementary School in Long Beach. She, her father, Seikichi, and mother, Matoe, were sent to internment camps for 3 1/2 years, first at Santa Anita Race Track, then in Arkansas. But the girl was able to continue her education.

"I feel I got a better education in camp. Students were pushed to do well by the Japanese-American teachers who were there and the Caucasians who came from outside," Matsumoto said.

She returned to Poly High School in Long Beach, where she graduated with honors, and received an academic scholarship to USC. She earned a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy in 1952.

In 1960, she received the medical center's Distinguished Employee Award. In 1982, she was named Pharmacist of the Year by the South Bay-Long Beach Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

In her spare time, Matsumoto serves as a volunteer interpreter for the Long Beach Police Department.

Ray Vreland is the only other employee with more than 40 years at the hospital. Vreland, who has been there 41 years, works in the hospital admitting department. He has never missed a day of work due to illness.

* Furlanth Flores, a student at San Gabriel Avenue Elementary School in South Gate, and Mathew Moore, a student at Dominguez Elementary School in Long Beach, received honorable mention awards for their art designs in the first Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest and Conservation Program. The statewide contest, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, drew more than 3,000 entries. The drawings were of six species of ducks, swans and geese.

* Patricia Reid Koch has been hired as an assistant superintendent of business with the ABC Unifed School District. Koch was financial planning manager for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She replaces Kim Stallings, who recently left to join the Placentia Unified School District in Orange County. Koch, 41, has a doctorate in educational psychology and special education from UCLA. She has a bachelor of science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master's degree in human learning from the Institute for Behavioral Research in Silver Springs, Md.

* Downey Family YMCA personal fitness trainer Jerry Prince, 43, won curl weightlifting championships in the 185-pound to 205-pound class in his age group at Wright's Gym in Chatsworth. Prince won the contest with a curl of 170 pounds.

* Judge Larry S. Knupp has been elected presiding judge of Whittier Municipal Court for 1991. Knupp takes over the duties of Judge Abner M. Fritz. The court has four judges and two commissioners.

* Cerritos community activists Karen Kennedy and Mangu Rohit have been appointed to the Let Freedom Ring Committee. The advisory board, which has 10 members, oversees the planning of the city's annual Fourth of July celebration.

* Long Beach resident Sadie B. Rudeen recently celebrated her 100th birthday with her six children, four grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

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