Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote, “To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own.”

2013 President’s Medallion Award Recipient

That special quality is evident in the lives of longtime Merced residents Don and Betty Stewart.

The Stewarts have given back to their community over many years with little fanfare. Expecting no reward, no honor or recognition, but humbling themselves in service of others, Don and Betty Stewart exemplify the spirit and essence of philanthropy.

They are, however, deserving of recognition today, and we are honored to award the 2013 President’s Medallion Award to Don and Betty Stewart.

Having built a very successful regional business, raising five children, and becoming fully engaged in the life of their local community, the Stewarts have made major contributions to Merced College, UC Merced, Mercy Hospital, the Merced Theatre Foundation, and many other local charitable organizations. For many years, they have provided generous scholarships to Merced College nursing students, as well as having made major contributions to other campus projects.
Don and Betty were married in the chapel of Stanford University in 1948.

The former Betty Santi then convinced the tall, handsome WWII veteran that “Merced was the perfect place to raise a family.” They did just that with daughters Melinda, Jana, Andrea, and sons Don Jr. and Robert who have provided the Stewarts with 13 adoring grandchildren.

As owners of Delta-Sierra Beverage Company, the Stewart’s ties to Merced go back to the early 1900s when Betty’s family owned and operated the largest milk processing plant in Merced. Merced Dairy eventually became the Merced Dairy and Ice Company, then Sunshine Farms, which stayed in the family until being sold in 1976. Betty’s father, Ben Santi, had also established a beverage distribution business in 1933 and after a series of expansions it became the Delta-Sierra Beverage Company of today.

The Stewarts are strong advocates for Merced College and its presence in the local community. Betty remarks “How fortunate we are to have these many acres of property so perfectly suited to our students and faculty.” They have both enjoyed “roaming the campus” over the years, admiring the landscape and facilities. The couple appreciates Merced College for providing local residents with many educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities. As Betty says, “It’s too good to be true!”

Today, we show our appreciation to Don and Betty Stewart by naming them the 2013 President’s Medallion recipients, and it is fitting that they become the first of Merced College’s friends and supporters to receive this honorary award.