News and Events
A Woman On The Go: Featured Story of Dorothy Stotsenberg
By Jovie Baclayon
At 91-years-young, Dorothy Stotsenberg means it when she says, “You have to keep moving; you just can’t just sit around!” Fidgeting around in a chair outside Smothers Theatre, waving to people who pass by, she can barely sit still long enough for an interview before an afternoon walk with friends on Pepperdine’s track, which bears the Stotsenberg name. After enjoying careers as a writer, editor, and publicist; raising prize-winning American saddle bred horses; becoming an avid runner at 66; and devoting much of her time to the arts, philanthropy, and community organizations, the longtime Malibu resident and Pepperdine benefactor has added a new title: Author.
“I didn’t know writing a book would be so much fun,” laughs Dorothy, the author of My Fifty Years in Malibu. “I have never gotten so much attention before! Beverly (Gosnell of the Malibu Surfside News) interviewed me, I had my picture taken for the newspaper, old friends from the Los Angeles Philharmonic came to visit me, and now I have a book signing where I’ll get to see even more friends. It’s really super.”
My Fifty Years in Malibu (Pepperdine Press, 2005) is a treasure trove of historical stories about the pioneers of the city and the land they shaped. Dorothy weaves together history and anecdotes of longtime local residents, and covers a wide range of topics, including the Chumash natives, early on-location filming, the construction of Pacific Coast Highway, disasters, controversies, and much more. Dorothy, who earned a master’s degree in journalism from UCLA, was a regular contributor to the Malibu Times, the Malibu Surfside News and the now defunct Santa Monica Evening Outlook. Many of the stories in My Fifty Years in Malibu originated as articles she wrote for the Malibu Surfside News. Proceeds from the book’s sales will benefit the Dorothy Stotsenberg Journalism Scholarship at Pepperdine.
It seems she has always been a woman on the move. Born in Wisconsin in 1914, Dorothy’s family moved to California when she was 8 and she studied journalism at the University of Washington in Seattle. While working in Yakima, Washington, after graduation, she met and married Edward G. Stotsenberg, an accountant. The newlyweds moved back to Seattle before going to Boston where her husband received his MBA from Harvard, and then to Los Angeles where he opened a private accounting firm.
In 1949, Ed and Dorothy rented their first home in Malibu, where the panoramic views of the oceans and mountains were enough to make the Stotsenbergs stop and settle down. They eventually purchased their first home in 1952 at Carbon Beach and built a home on Mulholland Highway in 1978, where Dorothy continues to reside.
When Dorothy took up Ed’s love of running in 1980, the two began running races and winning awards worldwide, from Santa Barbara to New Zealand to Puerto Rico. Without having a decent place to train in Malibu, the Stotsenbergs made a generous planned gift to fund major improvements to Pepperdine’s modest dirt track. In 1989, the University dedicated Stotsenberg Track, an Olympic-sized, eight-lane track with an all-weather surface.
Chapter 22 of My Fifty Years in Malibu details the impact Pepperdine had on Malibu and the impact the Stotsenbergs have had on the University. Ed was a life member of the Pepperdine Associates and founding chairman of the Crest Advisory Board, of which he and Dorothy were members. Ed passed away in July 2000 at the age of 86, but for almost every passion the couple shared, there is a program, scholarship, or landmark at Pepperdine that carries their family name. In addition to the track and journalism scholarship, Pepperdine has welcomed 5K and 10K races bearing the Stotsenberg name, the Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition, and the Stotsenberg Recital Series at the Center for the Arts.
Though she prefers walking in her running shoes now, Dorothy shows no signs of slowing down -- she’s already thinking about writing another book about her running adventures to encourage others to take up the sport.