Ethel Beyer, first employee of CLU, dies

Camarillo resident continued to serve after retiring

Ethel Beyer enjoys her 100th birthday party at CLU.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Nov. 15, 2012) The first employee of California Lutheran University, Ethel Beyer of Camarillo, died Wednesday, Nov. 14. She was 104.

Born Sept. 1, 1908, in Buffalo, N.Y., Beyer moved to California in the 1920s. She studied at the Los Angeles Business School in 1927 and worked for Pathfinder Petroleum Co. for 27 years. She was a Red Cross aide during World War II.

Orville Dahl, president of the California Lutheran Educational Foundation (CLEF) Board of Governors, hired Beyer in 1957 as his administrative assistant. CLEF had been formed for the purpose of “promoting the development of a Lutheran liberal arts college somewhere in the Los Angeles area.” A month after Beyer started her job, rancher Richard Pederson donated 130 acres in the Conejo Valley for the new college.

As a member of that first team of visionaries, Beyer helped mold the character of California Lutheran College, which was founded in 1959 and opened its doors to students in 1961. She went on to serve as administrative assistant to the President’s Office, the Faculty Office, the Grants and Scholarships Department, and the Business Office.

Beyer retired in 1997 and received an honorary degree from CLU the same year. She continued to serve the university as a volunteer and as a supporter of many events. A music lover who sang in a church choir for many years, she established a music scholarship for keyboarding students. She also paid for the university’s 50th anniversary bash in 2009. Beyer left her estate to CLU to be used for the construction of a performing arts center.

She was an only child who never married.

“CLU was her family,” said Della Greenlee, a longtime friend and former director of foundations and scholarships at CLU.

Beyer moved from Thousand Oaks to Leisure Village in Camarillo in 1976. She was a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks. She died of natural causes at a board-and-care home in Thousand Oaks.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Donations can be made to the Ethel Beyer Music Scholarship fund at CLU.