Pfeil: well-read volunteer loves her community
Last updated 10/18/2007 at Noon
Turning 92 years young this month, Mary Jane Pfeil is unequivocally sharp as a tack and spunky as can be. Those who know her well realize she remains staunch in her goals, whether it be personal or in her capacity as an elected member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group.
Pfeil spent her youth in St. Louis, MO; however, one month after she graduated from high school, her family packed up their belongings and moved to California.
“We came to California the day after the Long Beach earthquake in 1933,” Pfeil said.
Her older brother heard news of the earthquake from the bellman at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Phoenix. Though the earthquake headlines were bold as could be, Pfeil and her family were determined to motor onward to sunny California.
When the family arrived in San Diego, it was the first time that Pfeil and her brothers had ever seen the ocean. “It was big,” she said.
She also learned quite quickly the power of the ocean and to never turn her back on a wave again. “I got creamed,” she said, laughing. “The wave took me, rolled me and sandpapered me a little bit.”
Pfeil has a never-ending passion for books. In fact, she and her brothers knew how to read before they entered kindergarten.
“My house is filled with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books,” she said, admitting a special ardor for historical books and autobiographies. Be that as it may, to this day, her most treasured book was one given to her by her mother when she was 12: “Little Women.”
For Pfeil, reading is the key to everything. When one reads, he or she continues to learn and expand intellectual horizons.
Her love of the literary world spurred Pfeil to become involved with Laubach Literacy and help individuals learn the English language at St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
“Two of my [students] became American citizens, and I went down with both of them when they were sworn in,” she said proudly. This was not only a special time for her students but a heartfelt experience for Pfeil.
In the past, Pfeil has been involved with the Christmas tradition of bringing books to the Fallbrook Child Development Center. “Every child is given a book to take home with them,” she explained. “You are never too young to start holding a book and turning the pages.”
Another passion that fills Pfeil’s life is her love of animals, with a special soft spot for canines. She says she inherited her love of animals from her mother.
Before Pfeil and her husband moved to Fallbrook in 1969, they owned a citrus grove in Anaheim.
She became a member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group in the early 1980s with a vision to keep the town neighborly, self-sufficient and to follow regulations.
“Fallbrook is special to me because it seems like a little slice of old America,” she said. “We could help one another.”
Being part of the planning group and volunteering her time to several other projects is the core of Pfeil’s belief system. For her, it’s a unifying factor that brings people together for a common good.
“When you give of yourself to others you receive the greatest gift from them,” she said.