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Flying High and Giving Back

Flying High and Giving Back

Harv and Ruth Daniels

Married 50 Years, Harv and Ruth Daniels are Still Sharing the Love

A s 21-year-old Ruth Morash prepared for her first trip as a flight attendant for the now defunct Trans World Airlines (TWA), little did she know her maiden flight from LAX to Kansas City, Missouri would forever change the course of her life. Harv Daniels, a tall, gregarious man with a baritone voice, boarded that same connecting flight on his way back from a two-week vacation in the Orient.

As Ruth recalls, “I was starting a new job; meeting someone was the furthest thing from my mind.” However, when Harv spotted young Ruth, he was instantly enchanted. In flight, the stars soon aligned.

“She was like a breath of fresh air,” Harv says. “We talked on the flight all the way back.” Both lived and worked in Kansas City—Ruth at TWA headquarters and Harv at Frontier Airlines as eastern regional manager.

As they departed the plane, Harv and Ruth set up their first date—a black tie event for SKAL, a professional organization of tourism leaders around the world. They married just two years later.

Fast-forward 50 years. The Daniels are still flying together—just to more exotic places.

“Travel is natural to us. The kids’ first flights were in infant seats,” Harv says. “We’ve been to every continent except for Antarctica.”

The newlyweds soon started a family. In the 1960s, flight attendants were forced to retire once they became pregnant, so Ruth soon embarked on what would be a 35-year real estate career.

Harv joined the marketing staff at Continental Airlines, and the couple moved to Redondo Beach, where they began raising their two children, Scott and Kimberly. Six years later, the family moved to Palos Verdes Estates, where today they continue to enjoy their oceanview lifestyle.

After 19 years at Continental, Harv decided to join Group Systems International, a start-up company based in El Segundo, as a principal owner. His business provided management and marketing services to large U.S. airline carriers, assisting their dealings with major customers and carriers in foreign countries. At its peak, the company had offices in 14 countries, serving blue-chip airlines such as Continental, Delta, Western, American and Frontier Airlines.

In the early 1990s, the Daniels were first introduced to Torrance Memorial shortly after Ruth’s mom moved from Florida to Palos Verdes Peninsula to be closer to her family. While living in an assisted living facility, she began suffering from frequent transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), a stroke-like condition where blood flow to part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. She was periodically transported by ambulance to Torrance Memorial’s emergency room. During that period, she was also treated there for a broken hip.

“We practically lived in the ER, and every member of the staff was so great. They were very professional, yet family-oriented. We got to know many of the doctors and nurses,” Harv says. “They even sent her (Ruth’s mother) cards after she left.”

Shortly after Ruth’s mother’s passing, another bump in the road would lead the Daniels back to Torrance Memorial. Ruth received a diagnosis of breast cancer. They credit Torrance Memorial with making their road to recovery less rocky.

“I had a list of five surgeons I planned to interview, but Dr. [Melanie] Friedlander was the first I met with,” Ruth says. “After meeting with her, I didn’t meet with any of the others. She was terrific—very confident and warm.”

Her mastectomy was successful, and she is celebrating 10 years of being cancer-free. “The care throughout the entire experience was tremendous,” Ruth says. “Dr. [Thomas] Simko [radiation oncology] was so thorough and explained everything in a way that I could understand.”

Ruth would undergo two more surgeries in 2006—this time to replace both knees. Orthopedic surgeon Nicholas Silvino, MD, whom the Daniels jokingly refer to as the “Italian Richard Gere,” performed the procedures.

“It went superbly. I was up and about within three weeks after surgery for each knee,” she says. “We have since sent many people we know to him [Dr. Silvino].”

The Daniels had been involved socially with Torrance Memorial for many years, attending its annual Holiday Festival and also Honda’s annual Evening Under the Stars Gourmet Food & Wine Festival, which benefits the medical center. However, in 2008, Ed Dunford, a close friend of Harv’s and new member of the Torrance Memorial Health Care Foundation, suggested that Harv expand his involvement. A lunch meeting with Laura Schenasi, the board’s executive vice president, convinced him to join the board himself.

“I mean, really, who can say no to Laura Schenasi?” Harv says with a laugh. “It goes back to how impressed we were with the care Ruth’s mother received there. We thought now was the right time to become involved in supporting the new modern facility (Patient Tower) and the equipment it will house.”

Harv’s involvement on the board enabled him to take one of his passions in a philanthropic direction by serving on the planning committee for the annual Torrance Memorial Golf Tournament for the past four years. “Golf is my #1 recreational activity; I enjoy the dickens out of it,” Harv says.

For Ruth, it opened the door to serving on the planning committee for the Holiday Festival and as a Boutique co-chair. Each year she designs and decorates trees for the auction as well as boutique items. “I love this creative activity!” said Ruth. At the 2013 festival, her tree will be featured in the live auction.

Harv retired in 2008 and sold his company. Since then, in addition to their community involvement, they have traveled extensively and their love for cruises has grown. Their next major adventure will be cruising the east coast of Canada. Last year, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Cabo San Lucas with their two children, Kimberly’s husband Jim, and six grandchildren.

During their daily activities and travels, they make a point of serving as ambassadors for Torrance Memorial. “We have this tremendous asset so close to home,” Harv says. “We take every opportunity to share with friends the expanded impact the hospital will have here in the South Bay, as well as of our admiration for the quality of the medical team.”

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