Marx Dressler, Seal Beach Schools Superintendent

Teacher, principal and superintendent of the Seal Beach School District, Marx N. Dressler.

Under Dressler’s hard work and leadership from 1946 to 1978, the tiny elementary through intermediate district thrived, consistently winning praise for its academic, performing arts and athletic programs.

Born in 1922 just outside the tiny community of Lebo, Kansas, Dressler spent the first five years of his life the son of a farmer. Dressler’s father decided in 1927 to follow an early migration of farmers from the Midwest to California, where the family settled in Long Beach.

Dressler attended public schools through the Great Depression, ending up in Norwalk where he excelled in academics and sports at Excelsior High School, and serving as student body president and captain of the varsity baseball team.

Locally famous for his defensive quickness and scrappy hitting ability, Dressler won a full baseball scholarship to Whittier College, where he earned his degree and teacher’s certificate just after the commencement of World War II. As a college graduate, Dressler qualified to attend Midshipmen’s School and became one of the youngest officers in the U.S. Navy at age 22. Before shipping off to Europe, Dressler married his high school sweetheart, Betty Jean Chapman. Dressler continued serving his country through the end of the war on a patrol ship in the English Channel, having reached the rank of full lieutenant.

Soon after Dressler’s return, he landed a teaching and coaching position at Mary E. Zoeter School in Seal Beach. Dressler then received his Masters Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Southern California. After just three years as a teacher, Dressler became principal of the school where he formed a close working relationship with Jerry McGaugh, the Seal Beach School District’s long-time superintendent.

Upon McGaugh’s retirement, Dressler, then only 31, took over the reins of the district as its superintendent. The span of his administration continued from 1952 to 1978, when he decided to take early retirement so that he could live his dream of traveling around the world and visiting the sites of his service during the war.

Of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of the working relationships he forged with so many quality principals, teachers, and school board members who shared his dedication for providing a quality and broad-based educational program to the young people of Seal Beach.

Four of the thousands of students who benefited from his leadership are his own children, John, Robert, Mark William and Susan. Dressler had a dear second wife, Ethel Mecham-Dressler, and two grandsons, Max and Luke Dressler. His first wife, Betty, passed away in 1979.

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