Helen Grossman, a long-time Lompoc resident and 40-year member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education, who passed away in July at the age of 92, was honored by the county board of education at its regular meeting yesterday.
Grossman’s family members, including daughter Laurie Weaver, grandson Stephen Palmer, son-in-law Barry Weaver, and family friend Maria Baltierra, were in attendance to witness the accolades and receive the tributes given in her honor.
The resolution passed by the board cited the 40 years of service Grossman had given to the board as an “outstanding, dedicated, well-prepared, and inspiring board member.”
It cited her thorough preparation, deeply caring attitude, firm grasp of technical and complicated issues, deep sense of humor and complete dedication to the well-being of school children in the county.
A mantelpiece clock was presented to her family, in tribute to her “timeless service” to the board and to public education countywide.
Grossman, who was first elected to the board in 1969, served as president of the board from 1999-2000, and her related volunteer work and activities underscored her commitment to community service and youth.
She was always willing to open her world-renowned inkwell collection to visitors of all ages, in effect becoming a local museum that enshrined the art of writing, helping history come alive.
She was also on the board of the Lompoc Museum, a member of the Eastern Star, Community Woman’s Club, Alpha Club, American Association of University Women, California Elected Women’s Association for Education and Research, the Lompoc Hospital District Foundation, Lompoc Historical Society, Native Daughters of the Golden West, and the Library Foundation advisory board. She was a dedicated supporter of the arts, animals, and the environment.
“It is impossible to overstate Helen’s commitment to the Lompoc community and to the school children of Santa Barbara County. Her legacy of dedication, service, and generosity of spirit will live on as a model for all who follow,” said County Superintendent Bill Cirone.
“Her passing leaves a deep void and we share in her family’s sadness at her passing. It was an honor to know her remarkable spirit, and to serve the children of Santa Barbara County with her by our side as a full partner all those years,” he said.
Board members all shared memories and tributes. Joe Howell spoke of the honor of sitting next to her, like a seat of honor. “She could be so engaged, with so few words,” he marveled. Dr. Peter MacDougall spoke of the joy of knowing her, her sensitivity and caring. He said you always knew her presence here was not in the sense of just doing a job, but rather a sense of loving and caring for students and all who worked in schools.
Board President Helen Hill marveled that no matter how sick or ailing Helen was, you knew she had always done her homework and came well prepared. “She was a sharp lady and it was a great honor for me to know her,” she said. Dr. William Carty, who joined the board in 1989 when Helen was already a member, said, “She always made the meetings more meaningful. She was always able to communicate the right thing to do.”
Art Hibbets was appointed by the board to fill the Lompoc area seat vacated by Grossman’s passing. “There is no chance I’m going to match her record of 40 years of service,” he quipped. “I have very large shoes to fill.”
Superintendent Cirone cited her knowledge of finance and her passion for kids. He told the story of a board visit to a Special Education Regional class that was badly in need of a new washing machine. After the visit, Helen went up to Bill and said, very quietly, “Buy another one. I’ll take care of it.” No fanfare, he said. She saw a need and filled it. “We loved her as much as she loved the job and we are thankful we had her for the years she served,” he said.