Doris’ daughter Tonya Tyler shared how Galen had covered the couple’s bedroom ceiling with a depiction of the Milky Way galaxy as a tribute to their lasting love for each other.
Their starry marriage and service-minded hearts never flickered from their mission to serve others.
Galen had been the point man for the Church World Service’s Indochinese resettlement program after the fall of Saigon in 1975, helping settle more than 80,000 refugees from war-torn Southeast Asia.
Doris became the Ontario Fire Department’s first female dispatcher before going on to coordinate the city’s fire education safety programs.
Their resumes didn’t end there, however. Galen, who had attended Bonita High and earned his bachelor’s degree in history from La Verne College, was very much the town’s historian for well over a half-century. He was known around town as “Mr. La Verne,” for his depth of knowledge about the town.
Equally, Doris was widely known and celebrated for her work and contributions to myriad relief and civic organizations, ranging from NIMI to the Red Cross.
I, as a fellow La Verne resident, also got caught up in the couple’s firmament. About 1984 or so, I wrote a real estate story for the Los Angeles Times on this quaint town called La Verne. At once, I was informed I had to meet with Galen so that I could really capture the town’s essence. His portrayal and love for the city was so convincing, I ended up moving here permanently.
Another time, while gathering background for a story I was writing for La Verne Online, I joined Galen on a city park bench downtown for what must have been a couple of hours to hear him describe his work with U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department to help people in Laos and Cambodia gain basic services like running water, schools and public health facilities.
It was years later, when I was the public information officer for the City of Ontario, I first met Doris. We met often so that I could stay current on all the projects she was working on to promote fire safety in Ontario and throughout the region. She was always so easy and pleasant to be around – like a first rain in spring. Her touch was always light but thoughtful.
I heard Brethren pastor Susan Boyer describe Doris as the rock coated by velvet, or something to that effect, but I only saw the velvet.
The last time, I saw Doris was a on a hike with the La Verne trekkers. Although I had never walked with the group, she immediately made me feel right at home. Again, she was that kind of person, always embracing others and taking them in.
What’s amazing is, there must have more than 500 people wedged into the aisles and pews of La Verne’s great Brethren Church to honor and celebrate the lives of this extraordinary couple. Each I’m sure had a unique memory or recollection as poignant as my own.
Our reunion wasn’t just a love fest for a couple that can never be replaced (who among us will shoulder the awesome responsibility of continuing to create and chronicle La Verne’s amazing history?). It was a galaxy of goodwill that will live on through the decades because Galen and Doris made it so.