Endowment to Honor Long Beach Legend C. David Molina, MD
When asked about establishing an educational endowment in honor of their father C. David Molina MD, the Molina family offered this statement, “The five Molina siblings, who all attended Long Beach City College, grew up with a strong sense of the value of education and have endeavored to support education through a variety of avenues. Education opens minds to many ways of thinking. Our goal is to support others so that they can achieve their educational goals and dreams.”
C. David Molina was born in Yuma, Arizona, a rural community on the Colorado River, in 1926. His father, Conrad, was a businessman and his great-grandfather had emigrated from Hermosillo, Mexico in the 1870s. When David graduated from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the Army.
After the war, David enrolled at USC taking pre-med courses. He did very poorly. “I fell in with a bad crowd, and we would meet at a local beer hall and start drinking around noon. As a result, my grades were not too good. I decided school wasn’t for me.”
He planned to return to Yuma to work as a truck driver for a construction company. His uncle, Julius Molina, was a successful dentist in Long Beach. He talked things over with Julius who suggested, “why don’t you move in with me and go to Long Beach City College. Just give it a try for a semester.”
David discovered that, “if you don’t’ drink beer all day and looked at books occasionally, you could make a decent grade.” He worked nights in a laundromat and went to school during the day. He often hitchhiked to school because Long Beach residents were happy to give rides to ex-GIs. He took all his pre-med courses at City College.
He applied to medical school but did not get in. With his pre-med background “about the only jobs available were in the fish and wildlife service; everything was biology. There was a teacher shortage, so I enrolled in a program to get an emergency teaching credential.” A job opened in Yuma, so with his emergency teaching credential, he went home to Yuma where he taught seventh and eighth grade students at the Indian school on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation across the river in Winterhaven, California. He enrolled at San Diego State to continue work on his degree in education during the summers.
While completing his degree he met his future wife Mary, also a future teacher, at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University) where they graduated in 1951. They returned to Long Beach where they taught in elementary schools. While teaching school, he re-applied to medical school and was accepted by the California College of Medicine, now the University of California Irvine. He and Mary bought a home in Long Beach in 1954 and resided in Long Beach for the rest of their lives. He practiced medicine, eventually opening the city’s first intensive care unit and training the first paramedics. He was the founder of Molina Healthcare, now a Fortune 500 company.