Blooming in Retirement

Deborah Veady

Deborah Veady

Staff emerita and CSULB alumna Deborah Veady is passionate about volunteering and counts among her many activities serving as a 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games award ceremonies team supervisor, a CSULB Alumni Association vice president, a CSULB Women and Philanthropy charter member and…a Las Vegas show girl?

“When I retired as an associate vice president of development in 2004 from Cal State Dominguez Hills, I thought about what I would like to do,” said Veady, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1975 and took graduate courses in psychology at CSULB. “I used to fly a private plane and I was on the Long Beach Airport Commission for six years, but I wanted to do something different.”

The opportunity came when she joined Las Floristas, a 74-year-old organization located in Los Angeles which raises funds for the Las Floristas Children’s Clinics at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif.

“In the 1950s, Las Floristas used to have an outrageous, fun gala every year that was broadcast on TV,” Veady explained. “I used to sit around my black and white TV set with my mom and watch what was called the Las Floristas Floral Headdress Ball. Since my father had been a patient at this hospital and I love to ‘fun’ raise, I thought volunteering with the group would be a perfect use of my time.”

Deborah Veady modelling two Las Floristas costumes.

Deborah Veady modelling two Las Floristas costumes.

In 2006, Las Floristas asked Veady to model one of the floral headdresses for the organization’s 68th gala. She wore a 30-pound headdress, constructed of flowers and seeds.

“It’s like the Rose Parade except you’re on a runway. Florists who worked on the Rose Parade actually design the headdresses. Channel 7 came out and interviewed the models in 2006, and when they interviewed me, the TV caption read, ‘Deborah Veady, Las Vegas show girl.’ A former CSU Dominguez Hills colleague called and asked me if I had become a show girl!” Veady said with a laugh. “That was the most interesting thing I’ve done in retirement.”

A few years later, Veady modeled another floral headdress weighing only 18 pounds, this time as a Bollywood dancer.

During an average week, Veady, who says her days begin around 3:30 a.m., also volunteers for Steel Magnolias, a Long Beach Memorial Hospital auxiliary group that raises money for pediatrics; and oversees CSULB’s Women and Philanthropy, which creates scholarship opportunities for students who demonstrate a commitment to academic success, intellectual curiosity, an innovative spirit that stimulates creative and scientific research, and financial need. In addition, she serves as vice president of her parents’ company, R & M, Inc., for which she helps to manage commercial and residential income properties.

Veady is no stranger to fundraising. In 1992, at Cal State Long Beach, she was the director of the first student services development operation in the entire California State University system, a job she held for nine years before going to work for CSU Dominguez Hills.

“I became passionate about raising money for Disabled Student Services because of my father,” Veady said. “He was an interesting character in his own right. He was disabled at 21 while he was attending Whittier College with Richard Nixon. They were both officers of the student body. But my dad had to drop out of college. He became a jeweler because it was a sit-down job. What made him kind of famous is he tackled and accomplished every sport imaginable and, in the 1950s, was featured on the popular TV show ‘This Is Your Life.’ He was one of the first disabled athletes to receive national notoriety.”

CSULB has always felt like home to Veady, who first worked as a one-year Career Center intern on the campus and returned in 1981 as a career guidance counselor, then manager, before beginning her development position with the Office of the Vice President-Student Services until 2001. As an emerita, she continues to offer her development expertise to the university.

“The culture of Cal State Long Beach is so gracious,” Veady commented. “The level of civility and professionalism is very high; the students are very serious and accomplished; it’s a beautiful campus; there are amazing resources. I have many wonderful colleagues. I’ve made lots of friends here over the years. It’s like my extended family. And I have to say I feel very grateful for my education because I did put myself through college.”

Despite her demanding schedule, Veady admits that she enjoys new ventures and opportunities.

“I tend to want to take a new direction about every 10 years, so there may be one more career change in my life. I don’t know,” Veady concluded. “What will it be? I know it will not be modeling. We’ll have to see what parts of me still work in 10 years. For now, there’s enough variety to keep me engaged and work at CSULB that I absolutely treasure.”