Published Nov. 24, 2014
Josa Lamont | Features Editor
Riverside is the kind of city that builds people into a success story.
Board of Trustees President Virginia Blumenthal went to Poly High School and attended her prom at the Mission Inn. When she was in high school she used to put on makeup with her girlfriends and go to Riverside City College to flirt with the college boys. She’s an almost iconic example of the American ideal of classic Riverside.
She remembers the smudge pots in the winter to keep the oranges from freezing and gossiping as a little girl under the trees, or when people went on dates in the groves.
Blumenthal gets excited when she talks about her history with the city, and it’s easy to see the love she has for Riverside.
“It wasn’t my plan in growing up to stay here,” Blumenthal said. “I became an attorney in 1975 I was the first quote ‘girl’ attorney to break through in Riverside, and after I got my law degree and passed the bar the first time I decided this is where I was going to open up my practice.”
Blumenthal boasts the accomplishments of Riverside as if they’re her own. She proudly talks about Riverside hosting the first school district to voluntarily desegregate before it was mandated to do so by the United States. She proudly touts RCC as being the first school to become ADA compliant and the joys of being a part of that community show on her face.
“If you take a look like the Friday after Thanksgiving,” said Blumenthal beaming with spirit, “when they have the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn: and when at 5:10 in the evening you have Santa Claus that comes out, and with a flip of the switch the countdown from the crowd of 10, 9, 8. And you’ve got 75,000 people, 100,000 people downtown, and 4.5 million light bulbs go off. And it’s amazing the spirit and the pride we have with that.”
The RCC alumna was a school teacher in her earlier career and wanted to take a legal research class to help her students in their debate class. In order to take legal research she had to take several prerequisites. Before she knew it, she found herself halfway through law school and in love.
“When I first started practicing I loved the law,” Blumenthal said. “I love the Law more now than I did when I first started. I fell in love with it. I had no intention of becoming an attorney. It was not a great dream I had. It wasn’t that as a kid I always wanted to do it. It never crossed my mind.”
That passion has carried on to her children, and with support from her husband and herself, Blumenthal’s youngest daughter just passed her first bar exam.
When Blumenthal passed her own bar the first time, she decided to open her practice in Riverside.
“There was always a draw,” Blumenthal said. “I didn’t want to come back as a kid I wanted to go away to big cities and Europe and all that, but there was something that kept drawing me back.”
Blumenthal’s practice is located in downtown Riverside, on Market street, walking distance from RCC. Her parents still live across the street from RCC, and she believes her history with the city and the district help her to make good decisions as a board member.
Before she became a board member, Blumenthal would coach mock trials and served as the president of the Riverside County Philharmonic. She hadn’t intended to run when people approached her to campaign for the position, but after she told her parents it was her father who told her she had to do it.
So she ran and won and has been serving the board since.
Now she balances running her business with the responsibilities of board president and the many extra curricular activities she attends and commits to.
The Riverside lawyer lives with a clear passion that she invests into all the things she does.
“I actually feel sorry for people who are not passionate about what they do for a livelihood,” Blumenthal said. “I always recommend to students go into what you’re good at and what you really like. Those are the two requirements.”
The path of her life has brought Blumenthal throughout Europe and around the world to beautiful places. She’s been to Luxemburg, where she has dreamt of going since she was a girl, but something always brings her home to the beautiful city of Riverside where she has built her foundation and maintains her roots.