Dr. Angelo and Marie Giaudrone Recognition
by Peg Doman

Dr. Angelo and Marie GiaudroneA scholarship at Tacoma Community College has been established in honor of Dr. Angelo and Marie Giaudrone. They were the honored guests at a public event at Fircrest Golf and Country Club on April 19th, 1998. Nearly three hundred well wishers filled the facility to celebrate in the names of the Giaudrones.

The special recognition event was sponsored by the Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma Rotary #8, Tacoma Education Association, the Exchange Club of Tacoma, and the International School of Lagos Foundation.

Willie Stewart, retired assistant superintendent for Tacoma Public Schools, was the master of ceremonies for the event that contained music, warm humor and memories. Rick Stockstad (Piano Music For All Occasions: 253-759-7785) entertained on the grand piano during the pre-dinner reception. John Kim violinist with the Tacoma Symphony (253-272-7264) played a adagio by Bach to start the after dinner festivities, and Reino Moisio sang some of Angelo’s favorite songs to end the evening.

A few of the nearly three hundred attendeesPat Flynn, Reuben Kvamme, and Lilly Warnick (friends and fellow educators) took turns telling about Angelo and Marie. Dr. Giaudrone’s rise to Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools was a quick one from his beginnings in Cle Elum, east of Snoqualmie Pass. His parents, immigrants from Italy, settled in the small town with his father mining coal; however, they made it clear that Angelo was not to follow his father into the mines. During his high school career, Angelo arose early every day to start furnace fires for neighbors and to fry doughnuts before school.

Chuck and Helen Matthaei, friends of the Giaudrones from Rotary #8Dr. Giaudrone attended Washington State University, intending to be a teacher. After graduating in 1935, his first position was in Naches teaching science, mathematics and public speaking. In 1938 he became principal at Granger while also teaching civics, psychology, chemistry, algebra and debate. He moved to Sunnyside High School as principal in 1941. In 1949, Dr. Giaudrone moved to become Ellensburg’s school superintendent. He left the state in 1950 to study on a fellowship at Harvard University and returned after a year to Ellensburg. In 1952, he returned to Harvard University as assistant director of the Center for Field Studies and to lecture in the graduate school of education. 1953-1954 found him as Director of Harvard’s cooperative program in educational administration in New England.

Judy and Tom Hosea, past presidents of Rotary #8Following his years at Harvard, Dr. Giaudrone became school district superintendent at Concord, Massachusetts. He was hired to take over the Tacoma School District in June 1956.

Dr. Giaudrone retired in 1974 after 18 years service as superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools. Among many innovations in the district Dr. Giaudrone initiated were successful efforts to desegregate Tacoma’s schools without the oftentimes violent encounters experienced in districts with mandatory court orders. He established a magnet school program, developing special emphasis at targeted schools to attract students from all over the district, which, coupled with open enrollment, sensitivity training, development of minority teaching programs, and extensive community dialogue, effectively eliminated de facto segregation in Tacoma.

Chuck Abernathy, Exchange Club District President, his wife Connie, both members of the Exchange Club of Tacoma with Judy Ripley, and Steve Toftoy members of the Lakewood Exchange ClubOne of Dr. Giaudrone’s proudest accomplishments was mainstreaming physically challenged children into schools throughout the district, instead of centralizing them in one facility.

During Dr. Giaudrone’s tenure as superintendent, he was successful in passing levies to support the school district every year but his first year. Betty Drost, former President of the School Board and before that chairman in school levy efforts, states, “When I first started running school levies, Angelo was superintendent. Then there was no separation of levies and schools because that was before the public disclosure laws. The citizens committee paid me but I operated out of Central School. Angelo had to have his finger on everything. Angelo had to know what was going on, when it was going on and why it was going on. He used to come down two or three times a day to see what I was doing on the levy. Superintendents afterwards didn’t bother.”

Phyllis Shoemake and her husband, Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Dr. James ShoemakeBetty recounts that in the April after she was elected School Board President, she discovered she was pregnant and called the school board members and Angelo, offering to resign. “He said, ‘Don’t quit. We’ll manage the months you’re gone.’ I only missed one meeting. After the baby was six days old, I used to take her to meetings and she’d generally sleep through them. One time when Angelo was reporting some good news on a new program to the council, he was a little wordy. The baby, who was lying on the floor, crawled over to him, laid her head on his shoe and went to sleep. He said, ‘I think Patti’s trying to tell me it’s time to shut up.’”

Betty continues, “When Angelo first came to Tacoma I was one of the first people he met. I was VP of the PTA Council and he came around to see everyone. He was very good with the students, the parents and the school board.”

Long-time Giuadrone family friend Bethel Schneebeck states, “though Angelo was superintendent of schools, both he and Marie were cognizant of making Tacoma a better place. He became a person, not just a title, to the children and to the staff. His desire to serve the children encompassed all children, including the disabled and the high achievers.”

Angelo thanking friendsGiaudrone received many awards, during his tenure as superintendent and after. Included among them are the Golden Acorn Award from Tacoma Council of PTA for outstanding service to children and the community (1959), appointment to a National Science foundation committee to study biology curriculum (1959); Lamplighter award from the Tacoma Branch NAACP (1972) for “outstanding service to the family of man”; The Golden Acorn Award from the state Congress of Parents and Teachers (1974); and the Outstanding Citizen award from the Tacoma-Pierce County Municipal League (1974).

After leaving the school district, he went on to become executive director of Southwest Washington Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and served on the planning committee for TACID (Tacoma Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities), a center for sensory and physically challenged individuals. Dr. Giaudrone has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 since 1956 where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 1987.

Marie Giaudrone laughing with friendsMarie Giaudrone has been active in the community since moving here with her husband in 1956. Convinced of the importance of music in everyday life, she served as a music teacher in Fife and Sumner school districts before their children were born and after they went to college. Mrs. Giaudrone was instrumental in putting together the Comedy Cart, a collection of movie comedies on video tape, used at Tacoma General Hospital’s oncology ward as a supplemental treatment for the spirit.

The newly endowed scholarship fund established in the names of Angelo and Marie Giaudrone was announced at the event. The fund, supported by event sponsors and individual donors, will provide annual support in perpetuity for first-generation graduating high school students to attend Tacoma Community College.

For more information on the scholarship fund or to make a donation to the scholarship, call 566-5257.

Special Acknowledgments:
Tacoma Public Library
Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma
Dane Gregory Meyer, DG Studio
Sons of Italy
Marie Giaudrone, David Seago and The News Tribune for materials used in the Tribute to Angelo Giaudrone

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