Richard Walden was watching television when news of the CCUSD vaccination mandate was making news across the country. As a 1964 graduate of Culver City High School, the news made him proud of his former district and sparked an idea, especially after learning more about the background of CCUSD’s new superintendent Quoc Tran.
Walden, founder, president and CEO of the international relief organization OperationUSA, spearheaded a donation of 250,000 face masks for the District – 100,000 of which were delivered this week.
“I saw the story on CNN about Mr. Tran and realized that this was a perfect marriage,” said Walden. “Mr. Tran is from Vietnam and he was a refugee just two years after we started. OperationUSA was the first post-war aid group to provide relief to the camps in Vietnam and Cambodia.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Walden’s organization has donated more than 3 million masks to hospitals, senior housing developments, veterans, fire victims and more. He said directing the masks to CCUSD was an homage to his graduating Class of ’64.
“I spoke to some of members of my class and this was something we wanted to do,” he said. “We were an exceptional class.”
Indeed, the CCHS Class of ’64 included:
Richard Walden: Founder, President & CEO Operation USA (www.opusa.org), which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize as part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Walden is an attorney and former Commissioner of the California Health Facilities Commission (1977-1982) under Gov. Jerry Brown.
Derek Shearer: former United States Ambassador to Finland, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and currently the director of the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College.
Dr. Lawrence Steinman: professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Pediatrics, and Genetics at Stanford University noted for his work on autoimmune diseases, particularly multiple sclerosis.
“We have all had a lot of experience in health care and international relief,” said Walden.
“We are so honored to receive this donation from the Class of ’64,” said CCUSD Assistant Superintendent Tracy Pumilia. “It will go a long way in helping to make sure that we keep Culver City students safe while they are on our campuses.”
Walden, whose family once ran a pharmacy in Culver City, said he is pleased to give back to his hometown. He said he still has lots of fond memories of growing up in the Heart of Screenland, including a special delivery he made for his parents’ pharmacy to the old MGM studio lot when he was a CCUSD student.
“I delivered an order to Marilyn Monroe on the lot,” he said. “She gave me a kiss and a $10 tip on a $1.50 order. That’s something I’ll always remember.”