August 26, 1917 - February 11, 2021
Dr. Mary Ruth Stauffer went to her Lord February 11, 2021 at the age of 103 six weeks after a positive COVID-19 test. Her beloved family and Downey community will greatly miss her generosity, the twinkle in her smile, and her spontaneous sense of humor. In lieu of flowers, the family requests anyone wishing to remember Dr. Mary may do so by supporting her efforts in the Downey Community by donating to the Mary R Stauffer Foundation, PO Box 4688, Downey, CA 90241, or a charity of their choice. With COVID protocols still affecting gatherings, the family plans a private memorial. For the community, the MRS Foundation is planning a special celebration of life near her birthday in August. She was born in Toledo, Ohio August 26, 1917 to Amelia and Reverend Henry Schuh as Mary Ruth Schuh. Red-headed Mary was raised in a home of three generations of Lutheran ministers. At age six, she started teaching Sunday School. Her early teaching experience and involvement with the church introduced her a lifelong interest in education and philanthropy, rooted in love of family. Mary loved reading and studying. She graduated valedictorian from Bexley High School, near Columbus, Ohio 1935. With a scholarship, she attended Capital University, a Lutheran College. By working as an unpaid assistant for a pathologist at White Cross Hospital, she gained invaluable experience and a glowing recommendation for medical school. She graduated summa cum laude in 1939 from Capital University and was admitted to Ohio State University Medical School, just one of five women in a class of 75. Dr. Mary Schuh graduated top in her class from Ohio State Medical School on April 15, 1943. Concurrent with her MD, she earned her MS in Pathology by applying the first electron microscope in the U.S. to biological research. With the pressures of WWII, Dr. Mary’s internship and residency were compressed. On December 18, 1943, she married a co-resident in pathology, Dr. Floyd (Dal) Stauffer, a scholar and an athlete, who affectionately called her “Little Red”. Dal was commissioned into the Navy on their wedding day and reported to duty in Bremerton, Washington January 1, 1944. In Bremerton, Dr. Mary completed her residency, but just when she opened her own practice, Dal was transferred to Pensacola, Florida. In 1953 after Dal completed his service in the Navy, the family moved again. This time they chose the location, Downey, California, to settle and raise their family. After briefly working as a physician for the Los Angeles School District, Dr. Mary Stauffer opened her own OB-GYN practice. Soon afterwards in 1954 she joined the Downey Community Hospital Medical Staff. As her practice grew, she always kept Tuesday and Thursday afternoons open for her cherished five children’s many activities. Dr. Mary Stauffer was one of the first obstetricians to offer expecting mothers an educational program. Based on Grantly Dick-Reed natural childbirth (before Lamaze), she developed a series of three lectures. The third was with spouses held at her home on Rio Flora Street and included an 8-mm film of her delivering twins. In 1976, after delivering babies for 23 years in Downey, she transitioned into general practice. In 1972, Dr. Mary was chosen Chief of Staff at Downey Community Hospital. In 1987, with a donation of $100,000, she was the first physician to qualify as a member of the Founders Gallery of the hospital. She hoped to be the first of many. Among Dr. Mary’s other honors are 1983 Ohio State Medical School Alumni Achievement Award, 1997 Distinguished Service Award from Capital University, 1998 California State “Woman of the Year” from Senator Betty Karnette, 2007 Delta Kappa Gamma Chi State Distinguished Public Service Award, 2010 California State “Woman of the Year” from Senator Hector De La Torre, and 2012 Downey High School Hall of Fame Honoree. In 2007, Dr. Mary was one of the founding directors of the Columbia Memorial Space Center (CMSC). Later she rescued an Apollo capsule from unclaimed freight to become the center’s welcoming icon. In 2014, the Downey Unified School District renamed West Middle School to the Mary R Stauffer Middle School. In 1993 her passion for education and philanthropy came together as the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation, a private educational foundation personally funded to give back to Downey, the community where she had had a successful medical practice and her five children graduated from the public schools. June 30, 1997 at nearly 80, Dr. Mary retired from her medical practice and became the full-time CEO of her educational foundation. When Dr. Mary died more than 25 years after the formation of the foundation, it had donated over $6,000,000 to innovative educational projects for the Downey Unified School District and scholarships for Downey students. Every elementary school student in the district has been impacted by the foundation’s generosity by sponsoring the Mission Control Program at CMSC and bringing Autry Museum exhibits to the classroom. The foundation’s annual traditions of inviting teachers to propose grants for creative projects and rewarding high achieving students with various scholarships and awards have made life changing differences for many Downey students. Dr. Mary’s favorite saying is “be the best you can be”. Her decision for the Mary R Stauffer Foundation to continue in perpetuity will continue her legacy for Downey students to be the best they can be. She was proud that her children became accomplished adults and thankful that along the way each one helped with the development of the foundation. Dr. Mary Stauffer is survived by her: sister Dr. Emily Schuh; sons Jim and John; daughters Dorothy Knight, Judi Saunders, and Janet Suzuki; granddaughters Alison Knight, Dawn Martens, Diane Saunders, Katherine Rieth, Mary Owens, Jessica Forster, and Jordan Nickell; great grandsons Phoenix Rieth, Logan Rieth and Quillan Owens; and great granddaughter Abigail Nickell. The following article was taken from The Downey Patriot: By: Eric Pierce, February 11, 2021 DOWNEY — Dr. Mary Stauffer, a treasure in the Downey community for her philanthropy that benefited countless Downey students, died Thursday morning. She was 103. Through her foundation, Dr. Stauffer donated tens of millions of dollars to the Downey community over the past several decades, with most of the contributions earmarked towards education. Dr. Stauffer graduated from the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1943, the same year she married her husband, Floyd. The couple first lived in Montebello before coming to Downey. Dr. Stauffer’s first medical clinic was a brick two-story office building at La Reina Avenue and 2nd Street in downtown Downey. She later moved to Gallatin Medical Center at Paramount Boulevard and 5th Street, and then finally into the medical offices on Brookshire Avenue, across from Downey Community Hospital, as it was known then. Dr. Stauffer retired from medicine in 1993, three months shy of her 80th birthday. She was a founding member of Gangs Out of Downey, and later joined Downey Sister Cities Association and Christian Business Women’s Association. A conservative estimate is that Dr. Stauffer has given more than $6 million through educational grants and scholarships in the last 25 years, though the actual total is likely higher. Her foundation – the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation – bestows $2,500 scholarships to 50 graduating seniors from Downey and Warren high schools each year, plus “monetary awards” worth at least $100 to approximately 800 students per year. “Students are a good place to invest,” Dr. Stauffer told the Downey Patriot in 2017. “I live here; it makes for an educated, pleasant community to live in… I came from a giving family. When I see an opportunity, I can’t resist.” https://www.thedowneypatriot.com/articles/dr-mary-stauffer-downey-philanthropist-and-treasure-dies-at-102 Condolences for the family can be sent through our website.
Dr. Mary Ruth Stauffer went to her Lord February 11, 2021 at the age of 103 six weeks after a positive COVID-19 test. Her beloved family and Downey community will greatly miss her generosity, the twinkle in her smile, and her spontaneous sense... View Obituary & Service Information
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