Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children


1912 - Long Beach Day Nursery was founded by Mrs. Fred Bixby and a small group of civic-minded women including Mrs. Llewellyn Bixby, Mrs. H.S. Callahan, Mrs. J.O. Coleman, and Mrs. Mary Moore. Miss Florence Fisher was the first director and served until 1939. Opening day enrollment: 3 children.

1913 - “Uncle Joe” Mottell, Long Beach Rotary founding president, began celebrating his birthday with a party for the children at the nursery. He continued these parties for over 30 years.

1916 - Long Beach Day Nursery incorporated and moved into the facility at 805 Alamitos Avenue, a gift of Adelaide Tichenor. Enrollment: 60 children. The Rotary Club has given a donation to the Day Nursery every year since.

1917 - Newly formed Rotary Club held its first Christmas party for Day Nursery children.

1922 - LBDN received funding from newly organized Long Beach Community Chest, later known as Red Feather, United Crusade and today, United Way.

1926 - First permanent Nursery building constructed at 1548 Chestnut Avenue on land donated by Rotary Club. Kenneth Wing, Sr. was architect of West branch. Enrollment: 100 children.

1929 - As a memorial to their son, John Treadwell Bixby, Mr. And Mrs. Fred Bixby bought a house and lot at Orizaba and Spaulding, remodeled it, equipped it and gave it to be used as the second nursery, East Branch. Enrollment: 150 children.

1931 - The third Long Beach Day Nursery, North Branch, was constructed at 495 E. Plymouth Street, also a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bixby. Enrollment; 210 children.

1934 - First increase in parent fees: sliding scale of 10-25 cents per day was changed to 10-50 cents per day.

1945 - In her report, Executive Director Gladys Cook stated: “We have many children whose fathers are still in military service and a few who will never return, leaving mothers compelled to continue working. Much appreciation of having a home in the Nursery is expressed by these mothers.”

1947 - In spite of large enrollments the nurseries had low attendance during most of the year, as an unusual amount of sickness prevailed among the children and staff. The North Nursery was quarantined for infantile paralysis during August and both staff and children were confined to the nursery for a period of ten days. The Red Cross and Community Chest both gave aid during the emergency.

1948 - Nelle Loder became the sixth executive director and remained until 1963.

The Men’s Advisory Committee, known as the Community Advisory Committee since 1976, was formed with Charles Vickers, David Root, Glenn Gill and Williams T. J. Harris, George Marx soon joined them.

1952 - Betty Bixby (Mrs. Llewellyn, Jr.) began two year term as board president.

Founder Florence Bixby and friends celebrated the 40th anniversary of LBDN.

1955 - The cost of child care at LBDN was 27 cents per hour. Care included food, cod liver oil, nursery school care and case work counseling.

1961 - New East Branch built at 3965 Bellflower Boulevard in Heartwell Park on property leased from the City Water Department at one dollar per year. Enrollment: 247.

For the first time, each branch had its own Santa after many years of Jimmy McGarrigle playing Santa as he raced from one branch party to the next on a city fire truck, with Fire Chief Frank Sanderman at the wheel. Recent long-term Santas include Bill Harris, George McKeehan and Mason Kight.

1966 - Teacher Evelyn Keeley became executive director and served for a 12-year period.

1971 - First edition of Long Beach Day Nursery News published. Fran Nason was editor of the quarterly newsletter used to report the progress and needs of the Nursery to 800 friends. Today the list has grown to over 2500 names. Volunteers at the Senior Center help prepare the mailings.

1973 - Jean Bixby Smith, third generation Bixby family member to serve on the LBDN Board, elected President.

1976 - West Branch Head Teacher Fern Jensen retired after 30 years at the Nursery.

1979 - Executive Director Mary B. Soth joined the Nursery.

1983 - Honorary board members supported an elegant brunch at Casa Oceana home of Bob and Audrey Langslet. Held to offset cuts in the government food program, it was the first Nursery fund-raising event since the 1920s when “bridge tea parties” were held in the grand old Virginia Hotel.

LBDN children celebrates the dedication of a new play shelter, a gift from Sertoma mens service organization.

1987 - The Florence Bixby Fund for the Future was established to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Nursery.

Long-time dream realized with acquisition of two lots adjacent to North Nursery. Maximum enrollment: 257 children with a three to six month waiting list.

Archives Project established with the help of Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation to preserve LBDN’s important records, documents and memorabilia.

1989 - The West Branch was the first program in Long Beach to be awarded accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children after a year-long self study and on-site review by professional validators.

1991 - In February, after undergoing the voluntary review process, East and North were also accredited. LBDN joins about 150 other programs in California and 2000 nation-wide that meet the high standard of accreditation in regard to staffing requirements, curriculum and safety.

1992 - Bill and Norma Harris Day at the Long Beach Day Nursery! A party was held at the East Branch to celebrate the Harris’ 80 years of involvement with the Nursery. As lifetime members of the Friends of the Long Beach Day Nursery, Bill and Norma have given generously of their time, talents and leadership.

LBDN Board of Directors launched Stepping Stones to Success, a scholarship program to help subsidize the cost of care for working families.

1995 - Over 100 friends and supporters of the Nursery braved rains to attend the kick-off event for the Nursery’s $700,000 capital campaign to construct the new Infant/Toddler Center at East Branch in Heartwell Park. The event was sponsored by and held in the auditorium of the Long Beach Community Hospital.

1999 - The Nursery receives an unexpected and generous gift of $401,469 from the Hazel Liff Estate.

2000 - More than $2.6 million were raised for the capital campaign. Many foundations, corporations and community members made generous donations, including major donors ($100,000+): City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine; Hazel Liff Estate; The Albert Reingardt Foundation; Weingart Foundation; The Boeing Company, Employees Community Fund of Boeing California, & McDonnell Douglas Foundation; The California Endowment, The Eisner Foundation, B.C. McCabe Foundation; Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California; and The Norris Foundation.

2001 - East Branch grand opening of the new Beverly Lewis O’Neill Infant/Toddler Center and Hazel Liff Center at Heartwell Park.

2002 - Long-time Long Beach resident, Patrice Wong, takes the lead as new Executive Director. Nelle Loder Richards and Mary B. Soth named Directors Emeritus in recognition of their many years of service as Executive Directors from 1948 to 1963 and 1979 to 2001, respectively. LBDN hosts first annual Family Picnic for families and staff of the Nursery at Heartwell Park.

2003 - West playground, designed by Patrick Callihan, receives major renovations to beautify the area and to comply with new State of California playground safety codes. Reception to recognize Stepping Stones to Success Scholarship donors is hosted by Dr. Robert and Judy Gumbiner at their private art gallery for the first time.

2004 - East Branch receives re-accreditation from NAEYC following a lengthy review and validation process prompted by the 2001 renovation and expansion. East also receives a “5-Star” rating from Los Angeles Universal Preschool – the highest rating possible. LBDN begins partnership with Long Beach Public Library and implements the “Raising a Reader” program. Long Beach City Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal awards the West Branch with the First District “Community Partners Award.”

2005 - LBDN implements “Sign 2 Me” program for infants and toddlers to teach pre-verbal young children American Sign Language, thereby facilitating greater communication between these children and their families and caregivers. “Raising a Reader” is expanded to include both the East Branch and West Branch. Edith Suarez, preschool teacher at the West Branch, becomes the first recipient of the LBDN Scholarship at Long Beach City College established by long-time board member Donita Van Horik and her husband John Fielder. LBDN Board and Senior Staff participate in extensive strategic planning process and “LBDN 2010: Setting the Stage for our Second Century of Service” is produced. Due to increasing costs and other financial constraints, the board of directors agrees to close LBDN’s Memorial Branch.

2006 - The Honorable Beverly O’Neill is recognized by LBDN at its annual Tea Time Treasures Fashion Show, which is attended by close to 250 people and raises a record $50,000 for the Nursery. LBDN’s Professional Development Program is enhanced by a special 12-week preschool teacher math training program designed and implemented by LBDN Program Director Amy Bigelow and funded by The Boeing Company and the Mary B. Soth Endowment Fund. LBDN Executive Director Patrice Wong is elected Vice Chair of the Long Beach Early Care and Education Committee.

2007 - LBDN mourns the passing of Judy Gumbiner, Honorary Board Member, and Nelle Loder Richards, Director Emeritus. While sad about the loss of our two friends and supporters, we are excited to celebrate our 95th anniversary and reflect on our roots and all of our accomplishments over the years – one of these accomplishments being the reaccreditation of our West Branch. 

2008 - Rancho Los Alamitos pays tribute to Long Beach Day Nursery’s 96 years of dedicated quality early care and education through a week-long historical display, which recognizes Florence Bixby’s founding of the Nursery. 

2009 - The California Community Foundation recognizes LBDN as an “Unsung Hero” at its inaugural Unsung Heroes Awards – a celebration of the power and impact of philanthropy in Los Angeles.  Long Beach Day Nursery is one of just three organizations honored in the education category, and the only honoree from the entire South Bay/Long Beach area.  Adding to our excitement this year is the reaccreditation of our East Branch by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), joining our West Branch in being among only a select few organizations meeting the new, more stringent criteria required for accreditation.

2010 - In February, LBDN is nominated as the Best Childhood Development Center in Long Beach, and receives a 14-month, once-a-month spotlight on KCAL 9.  Viewers had the opportunity to vote for LBDN as the “2010 Best Child Development Center in Southern California” – the results of which will have to wait until 2011!

2011 - We won!  LBDN is thrilled and honored to have been named “Best Child Development Center in Southern California” by vote of the viewers of the Best of LA television show.  Thank you to everyone who voted for us!  LBDN’s 100th Anniversary Steering Committee, led by Melanie Werts, kicks into high gear and maps out our plans for celebrating our centennial, including ambitious plans to install an exhibit of our 100 year history at the Historical Society of Long Beach.  Thanks to support from the Historical Society and the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association, these plans quickly become a reality and the exhibit is selected to kick off our year of celebration.  Habitat for Humanity partners with our neighbors and builds five new much-needed single family homes in our West Branch’s neighborhood. Our preschoolers sing a special welcome to our new neighbors at the grand opening of one of these homes, delighting residents, elected officials and community leaders alike.

2012 - Happy 100th Anniversary to Long Beach Day Nursery!  We kicked off our year of celebration with our exhibit at the Historical Society of Long Beach. At a special VIP opening reception, Councilman (now Vice Mayor) Robert Garcia presents a proclamation on behalf of the City of Long Beach.  Guest include our oldest living alumna, Richard King, and his wife Ann, also an alumna.  Our 100th Anniversary Golf Tournament at the spectacular Palos Verdes Golf Club, followed by our Tea for Tots at Rancho Los Alamitos continued the celebration with our friends and supporters throughout the community.  LBDN is named “Non-Profit of the Year” by the Press Telegram as part of its annual Amazing Women celebration.  The year isn’t over yet – stay tuned for updates as the year continues!