Brea Old and New: The go-to source for all things Brea and beyond!

susan gaede

  • 2003 BOHS grad Araz Pourmorad proud to serve under the Obama administration

    14 hours ago by

    Brea


      “Only in this great country of ours can a 13-year-old immigrant who arrived knowing just three words in English (yes, no and monkey) grow up one day to work for the President of the United States.” So said Araz Pourmorad, 2003 Brea Olinda High graduate.

        President Barack Obama has departure photos taken with Araz Pourmorad, Deputy Director of Operations and Continuity, WH Operations in the Oval Office, Oct. 31, 2014. (Official White House)


          “It was a great honor and the privilege of my life to serve the Obama administration in the White House, but now my nine-year journey has come to an end,” Araz wrote as the administration wound down this past winter.

            Araz first served at the White House as deputy director of operations and continuity, and later was promoted to State Protocol. During his years in that post, he managed the visits of heads of states and governments to the United States.

              Travel was also part of his “amazing experience,” as his work took him all over the world.

                Not one to forget his roots, Araz expressed special thanks to his parents, Fereydon “Fred” and Fatemeh Pourmorad of Brea, for making the sacrifices they did so he could have this special opportunity. While serving in Washington,D.C., he also invited three of his Brea Olinda High teachers, Barbara Arcyznski, Janet Chapluk and Marjorie Sepulveda, all of Brea, to visit the White House.

                  A USC graduate with a degree in political science, Araz said he particularly loved the First Family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, and adored acting as the Easter Bunny in the 134th White House Easter Egg Roll.

                    Asked what he thought of former President Barack Obama, he said he believed him to be “one of the greatest presidents in history.”

                      Though sad to say goodbye to his friends in D.C., Araz has landed on his feet and now works on public policy at Google.

                        We knew him when…

                          Susan Gaede has cast her eye on local news for more than 40 years. Contact her at 714-529-8561 or e-mail suzgaede@aol.com.

  • Olinda Elementary students named state champions for National History Day

    1 month ago by

    After taking first-place ribbons at the National History Day Orange County Competition on March 11, five fifth-graders from Olinda Elementary School advanced to the state's National History Day Competition on May 6.


      Brea students at the state History Day Competition are, from left, Zoe Panis, Jiya Patel, Erika Yang, Jocelyn Islas and Sean Cronin. Their teacher, Jill Berrner, is standing behind first-place winners, Jocelyn and Sean.


        One nation's largest state History day competitions, California has more than 1,200 participants each spring.

          Sean Cronin and Jocelyn Islas took first place for individual projects. Sean's was "Claus von Stauffenberg's Stand Against the Nazi Regime," and Jocelyn's was "Harriet Tubman: Taking a Stand for Freedom."

            Quite an honor for Brea and Orange County!

              Susan Gaede has cast her eye on local news for more than 40 years. Contact her at 714-529-8561 or email her at suzgaede@aol.com.

  • Brea Centennial Throwback: POW/MIA Captain Stephen Hanson

    8 months ago by

    Actor Patrick Wayne, at lecturn, was master of ceremonies in 1971 for a ceremony at Brea Olinda High School recognizing Vietnam War pilot Steve Hanson, who was missing in action. James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a POW in a cage for the event.

    Actor Patrick Wayne, at lecturn, was master of ceremonies in 1971 for a ceremony at Brea Olinda High School recognizing Vietnam War pilot Steve Hanson, who was missing in action. James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a POW in a cage for the event. Courtesy of Susan Gaede

    Did you wear a POW-MIA bracelet in the ’70s?

      BREA

        I continue my honoring of Brea’s centennial with another look back in the history files. How many people remember wearing a POW-MIA bracelet with the name of Steve Hanson engraved on it? In April 1971, the city adopted Capt. Stephen Hanson, a Marine pilot who had been missing in action in the Southeast Asia for nearly four years.

          Steve was thought to be a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He had been shot down while piloting a helicopter on a rescue mission over Laos on June 1, 1967.

            Many local people wore Steve Hanson POW bracelets. John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Cher and many other celebrities also wore his bracelet.

              The high school held a dedication for Steve and all the television channels covered the event.

                Patrick Wayne was the keynote speaker.

                  Future movie director James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a picture of a POW in a bamboo cage to display on the podium during the ceremony.

                    Later, the high school conducted a swim-a-thon raising thousands of dollars for a college fund for Steve’s son, Todd. Many Brea residents and seven high schools participated in a walk-a-thon to Knott’s Berry Farm (10.3 miles) organized by Brea Olinda High School students to raise money for a national mailing campaign to North Vietnamese officials.

                      Steve’s wife, Carole Hanson, was grand marshal of the Brea Bonanza Day Parade. The theme was “Let’s Not Forget America.”

                        Steve was later declared killed in action and the bracelets were gathered from all over the United States, melted down by Brea Olinda students and made into wings, which were placed on a commemorative plaque and hung in the high school office.

                          Carole later married a former POW, Jim Hickerson, and they adopted a Korean girl. I am sure many of you remember Todd, who accompanied Carole at all Brea events. He was then 5 years old. He has a family of his own now. Jim and Carole are living in Hawaii and are very happy.

                            Carole is writing a book and Brea will very much be included in it.

                              Susan Gaede has cast her eye on local news for more than 40 years: 714-529-8561 or suzgaede@aol.com.

  • Country Hills student, Marissa Valencia, is Honda’s space camp girl

    9 months ago by

    Have you been watching the Honda commercial in which a thrilled and surprised 9-year-old is awarded a trip to Space Camp? The girl in the unscripted commercial is none other than Brea Country Hills Elementary student Marissa Valencia.

    Marissa Valencia, 9, a Country Hills student, is featured in a Honda commercial. Honda gave her a trip to space camp in Alabama. She is shown with the "Helpful Honda guy." Courtesy of SoCal Honda

    Marissa Valencia, 9, a Country Hills student, is featured in a Honda commercial. Honda gave her a trip to space camp in Alabama. She is shown with the "Helpful Honda guy." Courtesy of SoCal Honda


      Her mother, Nina, said it seems like all of Brea has bonded over seeing her on TV or the internet.

        Marissa is fascinated with anything to do with science and visits Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey once a month to learn more. It was there that a casting director came looking for kids.

          The well-spoken fourth grader won a trip to Space Camp courtesy of Honda, and attended along with her father. The company gave her an astronaut outfit (Her father got so “into it” that he purchased one as well!).

            At Camp, Marissa was busy all day, but her two most memorable experiences were going on simulated space missions and building a rocket she was able to bring home.

              Now, more than ever, Marisa Valencia wants to be, “the first woman to touch the moon.”

                Catch her ad online by entering keywords, "Honda" and "space camp."

                  Any news? Give Susan a jingle at (714)529-8561 or e-mail her at suzgaede@aol.com

  • Eve’s tour – a dancer’s dream come true for 2009 BOHS grad

    11 months ago by

    Congratulations to Nadine Olmo! The 2009 BOHS graduate who will be dancing with Grammy-Award-winning hip-hop recording artist Eve, the opening act for Gwen Stefani in her upcoming "This Is What The Truth Feels Like Tour."


      Nadine Olmo, a 2009 BOHS grad, is dancing with Eve on tour as the opening act for Gwen Stefani.  Courtesy of Vince Trypsin

      Nadine Olmo, a 2009 BOHS grad, is dancing with Eve on tour as the opening act for Gwen Stefani. Courtesy of Vince Trupsin


        Nadine said she has been dreaming about this day for years, and her hard work paid off. More than a thousand women submitted dance videos of themselves, hoping to be chosen; One hundred were picked to audition. Following rounds of grueling cuts, she was one of just four chosen!

          Nadine started dancing at age three at the Brea Dance Center with the Boyd sisters (also BOHS graduates), Christine, Stephanie and Jenny. After graduation, Nadine moved to New York City and trained at the Broadway Dance Center and with the Dana Foglia Dance Company. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

            The tour opened July 9 at San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Weekend. It will travel to 28 cities in the United States and Canada.

              Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at 714-529-8561 or email her at suzgaede@aol.com.

  • Fairy Tale Wedding for High School Sweethearts

    12 months ago by

    Samantha Farris and Loren Cory Phillips were married May 14 in Malibu. Courtesy of John & Joseph Photography Inc.

    Samantha Farris and Loren Cory Phillips were married May 14 in Malibu. Courtesy of John & Joseph Photography Inc.


      Samantha “Sami” Farris, BOHS 2011 grad, and Loren Cory Phillips, who graduated in 2009, had a fairy tale beginning: They met in French class Sami’s freshman year and they have been together ever since September 2007. Sami even commuted five times a year to Arkansas while Corey attended college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

        Many former BOHS graduates attended the beautiful wedding May 14 in Malibu: Debbie Farris ,Tammy (Quinliven) Phillips, Jeff Hiebert, Fayaz Chamadia, Melissa Wall, Brandon Metten, and Carly Juarez.

          Sami Farris is a wedding and event planner at Detail Wedding in Irvine and Beverly Hills. Loren Phillips is working on architecture for the Southern California freeway systems.

            Parents of the bride are Kim and Craig Farris and parents of the groom are Tammie and Dean Phillips.

              Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle (714)529-8561 or e-mail her at suzgaede@aol.com

  • BOHS sweethearts reunite after decades

    1 year ago by

    Love story:


      Mike Jaromscak, Brea Olinda High School class of ’78 and Faris Whitesell Class of ’80 dated in high school. They are soon getting married. (Courtesy of Faris Whitesell)

      Mike Jaromscak, Brea Olinda High School class of ’78 and Faris Whitesell Class of ’80 dated in high school. They are soon getting married. (Courtesy of Faris Whitesell)


        Mike Jaromscak, Brea Olinda High School Class of ’78, and Faris Whitesell, Class of ’80, had a group of friends who did everything together. Included in that group were Susie Leyton, Darlene Esposito, Jackie Smith, Susan Nykaza, Rhonda Kozumplick, Fran Contrares, Kayleen Hopkins, Mike Jaromscak, Cody Moree, Richard Donk, and Frank Mueller. After a group river trip, Mike drove Faris home in 1982 and they started dating. At the wedding of his sister, his beloved grandmother, Ida, told Mike that Faris was the one.

          “I made the mistake of breaking up with Mike, and moved to Tennessee following my sisters, Emily, Fran, and Fern," Faris said. "I lost touch with many Brea friends. Fast forward to 2004, I was single and carrying the knowledge that Mike was the one I let go, and should have made better decisions. I started searching for him on the Internet, spelling his name wrong.

            "Our friend Kay was killed in an auto accident. At her funeral, her mom gave me her photo's," Faris said. In Kay's pictures, there was one of our old gang, and she had a Post-it note listing everybody in the picture. And there it was, Mike Jaromscak. I immediately went to Facebook and found him."

              "There were many challenges to face, mainly geographic. He lived in Oregon. I lived in Tennessee. We took a trip to the Redwoods to figure it out. The end result was a road trip, from Oregon to Tennessee. "I am a RN and Mike is a retired masonry. His dream was to live in a cabin in the woods, so that is what we did. We built a cabin in the woods," said Faris.

                "Finding true love at this stage in life is beautiful. We have both made mistakes and we both have made accomplishments," Faris said. "But one thing for sure, this last chapter of our lives will be the best. Thanks to growing up in Brea, the best place in the world to grow up. I don't know what it's like now, but the friendships of Brea are forever.”

                  They will be getting married soon.

                    Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at 714-529-8561 or e-mail her at suzgaede@aol.com

  • Strike 3! Q&A with Sophia Williams – Little League Baseball

    1 year ago by

    Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at 714-529-8561 or her at e-mail suzgaede@aol.com


      Sophia Williams, 12, is an outstanding pitcher on the Brea Little League team with all the boys. She has been selected as an all-star for three years.

        Sophia Williams loves to strike out the boys, She is a pitcher on a Brea Little League team.(Courtesy Anthony Pai)

        Sophia Williams loves to strike out the boys, She is a pitcher on a Brea Little League team.(Courtesy Anthony Pai)


          Susan: Why did you get into baseball and not softball?

            Sophia: I watched my older brother, Jared, play and it looked like a lot of fun. The softball looked too big; I never wanted to play with the girls.

              Susan: How do the boys treat you on the field?

                Sophia: My teammates treat me like one of the guys. I don't think about being a girl on a boys' team. I just love to play.

                  Susan: What is your favorite part of the game?

                    Sophia: Striking out other players and getting hits.

                      Susan: Do you want to play in high school?

                        Sophia: It would be fun to play in high school; I would love to be the first girl to play in the big leagues.

                          Susan: How did you get the nickname "Syclone?

                            Sophia: My dad starting calling me that because he said I was full of energy like a cyclone, but with an "S" for Sophia.

                              "Sophia's unshakable approach to baseball not only makes her a fierce competitor, but is the foundation for the Brea Little League Indians. Whenever we are in a tough spot, Sophia pulls through for her team” said Chad Guss team manager.

                                We look forward to seeing Sophia as the first girl in Major league Baseball.

  • Scouts honored for saving friend’s life after sudden cardiac arrest

    1 year ago by

    Brea


      Three Brea Eagle Scouts from Troop 801 helped save a life.

        The Brea City Council recently honored Eagle Scouts from Troop 801, second from left, Blake Wilson, Blake Perez, and John Evert, shown with Daniel Medina, left.

        The Brea City Council recently honored Eagle Scouts from Troop 801, second from left, Blake Wilson, Blake Perez, and John Evert, shown with Daniel Medina, left.

        Debbie Medina mother of Daniel Medina loves to tell the story of how the brave Scouts saved the life of her 25-year-old son, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

          Debbie Medina said her son collapsed at home in the kitchen at 8:30 p.m. February 28.

            "One of his friends heard a thump and approached the kitchen, finding Daniel face down on the kitchen floor," she said. "My husband and I were not home at the time. His friend quickly yelled for the other two friends who were watching TV in the living room, called 911, and with direction from the 911 operator, Tammy Ramsey, began CPR."

              Daniel was taken by ambulance to St. Jude Medical Center, where he was put on a ventilator, and into an induced coma.

                "The doctors in ICU said on several occasions that these brave and courageous young men saved our son’s life," said Debie Medina. We did find out all three young men are Eagle Scouts and one has taken the EMT training course. Again a miracle."

                  About 350,000 people go into sudden cardiac arrest each year, according to the American Heart Association. Of those, only 1 percent to 2 percent survive, and some with significant brain damage.

                    "Our heroes said to my husband and I that they knew CPR but never thought they would need to use it, and especially on a friend they love," Debbie Medina said.

                      Daniel is doing very well. Tests revealed he has a rare congenital heart defect that brought on the cardiac arrest.

                        The Eagle Scouts, Jon Evert, Blake Perez, and Blake Wilson, and the emergency responders Fire Captain Dave Schautschick, engineer/paramedic Randy McDaniel, firefighter/paramedic Travis Knabe, and firefighter Greg Harris, were honored at a Brea council meeting on April 19 with commendations for their valiant and steady handling of an unbelievable situation.

                          William Wojcaik suffered cardiac arrest during the Brea’s 8K race. Cesar Robles, Bradley Luna, Randall Parra, April Scwartz, Ryan Scwartz, Phillip Stephenson Randy McDaniel, and Stephen Davy were presented commendations at the May 3rd council meeting for saving his life.

                            Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at 714-529-8561 or e-mail her at suzgaede@aol.com

  • Sharing a piece of history: 100 years in Brea

    1 year ago by

    Brea


      The first photo I ever took for the Brea Progress was of Brea Olinda High School’s 1973 homecoming (and later prom) queen Karyn Fox.

        Karyn Fox, 1973 Brea Olinda High School homecoming queen, wipes away a tear. (courtesy Susan Gaede)

        Karyn Fox, 1973 Brea Olinda High School homecoming queen, wipes away a tear. (courtesy Susan Gaede)


          In honor of Brea’s centennial in 2017, from time to time I will be sharing photos from the community over the years.

            I had just started working for the paper and no one was on the field taking a picture. I told my husband I was going to run down and take a photo of the queen. He suggested I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t be stopped. Ironically I think it was the first and best photo I ever took, but then it was a pretty good subject.

              Karyn’s Aunt Rose had made her gorgeous dress. The dress was taken out of the box again when the queen’s mom, current Planning Commissioner Pat Fox, wore it to President Nixon’s Inauguration .

                Karyn still looks like a prom queen. She works as assistant director of case management at a psychiatric hospital. Attending USC football games is something she said she really enjoys.

                  Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle, call her at 714-529-8561 or email suzgaede@aol.com.

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