(Left) Mayor Ray Luna introduces Lucy Howery who spoke about Mel Howery's love for the Santa Paula Community Center. Photo by Don Johnson

Mel Howery honored with Santa Paula Community Center plaque

December 06, 2002
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula Times“All these people here for Mel. . .he loved to see people. Mel would have loved this,” said Lucia “Lucy” Howery as more and more people crowded into the lobby of the Community Center for the dedication of a plaque honoring the longtime city Recreation Director.Howery’s efforts to create the Community Center were lauded Dec. 2nd at the special reception honoring the city’s first Recreation Director, who passed away unexpectedly last year.“Mel was so dedicated to our kids,” said Mayor Ray Luna. “And, as you know, he was a real jester,” and practical joker whose antics liven up any event he attended.Howery was the city’s Recreation Director for over 26 years before retirement. A noted high school and college basketball player, Howery had a true love of sports - later he was a notable member of a senior softball league - and their impacts on youth.It was the Community Center that Howery spent many years on obtaining the funding and support for.
“I want to thank the City Council and all for this occasion,” said Lucy Howery. “I’m very proud and impressed. . .I love this town, as did Mel.”The Community Center was his “pride and joy, his biggest achievement, aside from finding me!” Howery joked. “. . .now I come to class every week and say hi to Mel. I’m thrilled that so friends and his family are here tonight. This is the perfect place for Mel to be. . .”Former Mayor Carl Barringer talked about the Community Center Endowment Fund and its committee that “Mel worked with very hard to raise the money,” to benefit the center on an ongoing basis. “Mel was deeply involved and an integral part of that, it kept him quite busy.”The plaque bears a photo engraving of Howery, as well as the dedication noting “In honor of his contributions and dedication in developing and establishing the Santa Paula Community Center and for his 26 years of service as the first Recreation Director for the City.”

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