february 6, 2004

DEL MAR TIMES

Thanks Zus for all your hard work!

By Lynn Gaylord

VFor six years, Zus vanThillo served on the Del Mar Foundation and for most of that time she was the backbone of our finances. No easy task given that during this period we doubled our Board size, quadrupled our programming for the community, doubled our asset base, and brought the Powerhouse into being. A lot of accounting for one person to do! It had become evident that the Foundation's books could no longer be done manually and had to be computerized.

Although Zus has a lifetime passion for the visual arts, she started her career with a mathematics degree from UC Berkeley which led eventually to a computer programming job at UCSD in the Physics department. It was there that she met her husband. After their marriage, they moved to Princeton where Zus took a position as a computer programmer in the research department of Educational Testing Services.

After the birth of their daughter Katherine and one too many snow storms, they returned to southern California in 1974 and bought their house on 10th Street. Del Mar's lucky break! Word got out in the community that Zus was back and, along with two professors from England, she was asked to write an accounting software program for research companies. These were the days long before Quicken and what we take for granted today. Zus knew she could do the programming but had to learn about accounting. So she set out interviewing accountants to find out how they did what they did and simultaneously learned what it was the government required of the research firms. After writing thousands of lines of code for this software program, she became a pretty good accountant herself. Along the way she also became chief financial officer of two local companies and a founder of a computer services company. And I am back to what I said in the first place, "Del Mar's lucky break!"

Zus became involved in the Del Mar Foundation via the fundraising committee charged with restoration of the Powerhouse. At the time, the Friends of the Powerhouse were without their 501c3 non profit status, but taking in donations. The Del Mar Foundation was the fiscal sponsor of the project with all the monies received for the restoration accounted for separately. It is easy to see what a huge job this was given the number of bricks and plaques you see at the Powerhouse today.

"The Del Mar Foundation has grown enormously in the past six years. In 1997 we were organizing the Twilight concerts, but that was it. Today, in addition, we have the Cultural Arts programs in the Powerhouse for children and adults, the public art project with horses "Payasada," a newsletter, website, and so much more for the community. It is wonderful to see. I feel lucky to have been a part of it all."

The "thanks" come from us, Zus! We are ever so grateful for your six years of service. Without you, we couldn't have done it all!

Lynn Gaylord is president of the Del Mar Foundation and invites you to become involved. We have a new phone number at the Del Mar Foundation with an easy to use menu. Please call (858) 635-1363 or log onto www.DelMarFoundation.org .