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He beat cancer, now he's ready for a fourth term

October 14, 2004

Andrew Edwards

Brian Rechsteiner won a battle against cancer, and his victory set

him free to run for a fourth term on the Huntington Beach City School

District's board.

"I said [cancer is] not going to change my life," he said. "I'll

get it, we'll defeat it and we'll go on."

Rechsteiner, 59, was told to expect a full recovery from when he

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was first diagnosed with throat cancer. He recently underwent surgery

to have the cancer removed and is now officially cancer free.

But defeating the illness was not the most difficult chapter of

Rechsteiner's life, he said. He described his toughest challenge as

his time in Officer's Candidate School for the California Army

National Guard. Rechsteiner spent the first half of his six years as

a guardsman in the enlisted ranks, but completed officer's training

and earned the rank of second lieutenant.

"When you go through something like O.C.S., that's probably the

hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Rechsteiner said. "It turns

you into a leader."

Rechsteiner's National Guard years were spent in an armored

cavalry unit based out of Long Beach. His unit was never called to

serve overseas.

Rechsteiner and his wife, Marsha, bought their first house in

Huntington Beach in 1975, two years after they were married. A

marketing manager for Exxon Mobile Corp., Rechsteiner has worked with

the oil company for 34 years in offices all across southern

California as well as a three-year stint in Seattle, Wash.

On a clear day, Seattle can be a beautiful place to live,

Rechsteiner said. But to the Southern California native, the Emerald

City's weather could pose its own small challenges.

"To a southern California person, Seattle is tough, with all the

rain," he said.

His experience, he said, makes him the only businessman sitting on

his district's school board. He believes his experience gives him

insight to the district's many financial dealings.

"The district is a business, we run a business and the kids are

our product," he said.

Rechsteiner was first elected in 1992 -- on his second try. At the

time, his children, Erik and Julie, were enrolled in district schools

and he was already involved in the district by volunteering with a

Toastmasters program at Sowers Middle School designed to teach public

speaking skills to middle school students. Rechsteiner has since left

the speaking program, though it continues at the school.

During his 12 years on the board, one of Rechsteiner's tasks was

to help select a new superintendent after Duane Dishno retired in

June 2001. In the process that led to the hiring of the current Sup.

Gary Rutherford, Rechsteiner impressed parent Cathy Meschuck,

executive director of the Huntington Beach Education Foundation.

Rechsteiner and Meschuck worked together in meetings with parents,

administrators and teachers to pick the district's next leader.

"When he takes on a project, he always works on it through

completion," Meschuck said. "He's not one to drop the ball."

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