Stephanie Bussi

Photo of Stephanie Bussi A prominent Long Beach advocate for housing issues, the homeless and disability rights has died. Stephanie Alys Bussi, 74, of Long Beach, passed last week after a battle with multiple sclerosis and congestive heart failure.

Her family remembered her as a caring, nurturing woman who worked tirelessly to better her community. "She was always very upbeat," her son Kevin said. "She never complained ... whatever she touched, she ruled. She made it hers, and she was resilient."

After moving to Long Beach in 1988, Stephanie became involved with a number of nonprofit and charitable organizations, including Housing Long Beach, Californians for Disability Rights, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Los Angeles County METRO Accessibility Advisory Committee.

She attended synagogue at Temple Israel for the last 18 years and has been its Homelessness Task Force Chair for many years, Kevin said. Bussi helped start a partnership between the Temple and the Drop-In-Center/Urban Community Outreach with First Congregational Church and has organized a Christmas morning breakfast at the center for years.

Although she was hospitalized on Dec. 23rd, her passion for helping in the community still burned strong within. "She was telling my sister to let her work (on the Christmas breakfast)," Kevin said. "She wanted to be there and even though she couldn't, she made (the breakfast) happen."

Bussi, née Bleier, was born June 30, 1940 in New York City and grew up in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. She was married at age 19 to August Bussi, 73, on June 24, 1959 and had their first son, Millard, 54.

August served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the family moved from New York to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., where their second child, Kathy, 52, was born. The Bussi family then moved to Yuma, Ariz. where, Kevin, 50, was born. The family moved one more time to Georgia before moving back to New York City in 1966 where they lived for 20 years.

Bussi, who had spent her adult life as a stay-at-home mother, decided to go back to school and attended LaGuardia Community College in 1978. She earned an associate's degree in occupational therapy and attained a 4.0 GPA. She began a career as an occupational therapist at Hebrew Hospital in Co-Op City, the Bronx in 1980.

In 1986, Stephanie and her family followed Kevin to South Gate and then to Long Beach in 1988. She began working at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood in November 1986 until her diagnosis of M.S. forced her to retire in June 1990.

"Her supervisor told her 'you can go home and don't come back until you can walk again,'" Kathy said. That incident -- about a month before the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990 -- lit a fire in Stephanie to fight for the rights of persons with disabilities, her daughter said.

A memorial service was held for her at Temple Israel. Donations in her memory may be made to Temple Israel's Homeless Assistance Fund.

She is survived by her husband August; sons Millard and Kevin; daughter Kathy Bussi and grandchildren Kevin Earl Bussi and August Bussi-Smith.

Article from the Long Beach Press Telegram.