James & Radha Sloss
Author: Kathy Zotnowski
“A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose.”
“Significant” is an understatement when it comes to acknowledging the contributions of alumni Radha ’49 and James ’48 Sloss. Radha is the daughter of Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School) founder Rosalind Rajagopal. According to Radha, in her book, The Story of Happy Valley, (published in 1998, revised 2006):
“In 1945, the war just over, there was a ninth grade class at the Ojai Valley School, wondering where they would go the following year, Wallace Burr, the headmaster of Ojai Valley School, took Rosalind aside and suggested that in view of all the murmurings about a “someday” Happy Valley School, this would be a good time to get started. The murmurings soon developed into very solid discussions and by spring of 1946 definite plans had been formulated to open a new co-educational boarding high school, with grades ten through twelve, in the fall” (71).
Radha and “Jimmy” were two of those first Happy Valley School students in the fall of 1946.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” –Walter G. Bennis
Fourteen years later, in 1960, Jimmy became a Trustee of the Happy Valley Foundation (HVF) Board and served until 1966. As Radha later noted,
“In 1989, James Sloss, now a professor of mathematics at UC Santa Barbara, returned to the board after an absence of twenty-three years; and when Austin [Bee] retired as chairman in 1993, James was elected to that office” (The Story of Happy Valley 106).
Forty years after starting as a student, Radha joined Jimmy on the HVF Board as a Trustee in 1986. Together, for over thirty years, the two held leadership roles as the heads of various committees including the Land Use Committee, as well as executive committee positions including Secretary, Treasurer, President, and Chairman of the Board, and gave innumerable hours of service. Their time, wisdom, and financial, resources led to the realization of many HVF goals and objectives. Under their leadership, new activities of thee Happy Valley Foundation came to include The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, which “celebrates the life and work of Beatrice Wood while presenting exhibitions of contemporary art, workshops and events” (links at www.radharsloss.com) and the Happy Valley Cultural Center, which is “dedicated to the support and encouragement of international and intercultural understanding. The Cultural Center provides a venue for all the arts as well as for dialogues on social and scientific issues that will be of interest to the community at large and that will introduce the student of the Besant Hill School to diversity in both traditional and responsibility of creating their Happy Valley legacies almost 75 years ago. Their commitment to lead the Happy Valley Foundation Board while creating careers as author and educator, respectively, and raising their beautiful family–daughter Tinka Sloss, LMFT, son Robert Sloss, and their grandson–is unparalleled. It is with grateful hearts that we give our deepest thanks for Radha and Jimmy’s extraordinary, life-long, “Aún Aprendo” spirits, and we congratulatee them on their retirement from the Happy Valley Foundation Board. Their impact will be felt not only by subsequent generations, but forever.
“All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.” –Jim Rohn
The Alumni and Friends Council
The common purpose of the AFC is alumni outreach with the goal of cultivating relationships that engage with the school, the current student body, and each other.
Besant Hill School of Happy Valley
8585 Ojai Santa Paula Rd
Ojai California 93023
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