A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO THELMA PRESS - FOUNDING MEMBER
Thelma Press. Many owe you much. It is not my intent to embarrass you, but for 50 years you have been a servant to both your city, your nation, your world. Indeed, for even more than 50 years you have served your fellow man. Many accolades have come your way, most recently by Sister Cities International as its Receipient of its 2009 Ruth Hashimoto Award for 50 years of distinguished service to the international sister cities movement, at its most recent international annual conference held in Belfast, Northern Ireland this summer. You have served the sister city movement both at home and abroad, first as a founding member of the San Bernardino-Tachikawa Sister City Committee in 1959 with your husband Lou, and Mignon and Seymour Schweitzer, then as a representative to the state, and then the national, and most recently as the Vice President of the U.S. Sister Cities Board. You have indeed been a bright and shining light on the hill.
What compelled you, indeed propelled you to such service? Was it being raised the daughter of a British diplomat prior to and during World War II in the British Raj in India? Was it the four months of tutelage in geography at the Catholic University in India under the beneficent eyes of Sister Teresa, who we came to know as Mother Teresa? Was it the trip on a tramp steamer from India to the United States at the end of World War II, as you saw the ravages of that war in the lives of small children held during the war in concentration camps with whom you shared from your few possessions on your way to college in the United States, arriving only with a dress, the shoes on your feet, and a box of jewelry?
You were resolved that the children of the world would not be punished for the sins of their parents. That's why you got involved, so that the next generation of children should become friends following the philosophy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that if people met people twinned with other cities, then there would be a pathway of understanding, becoming friends, almost like family, and one does not attack one's family.
So, Thelma, we thank you for helping to create a family within humanity when as a young mother you took upon yourself and your family the vision and work of making a difference to the family of humankind. And to think, it all started here in San Bernardino with the San Bernardino-Tachikawa Sister City Program 50 years ago. We are blessed to be a part of your big, broad, international family.
Robert A. Fredericks