Elder Leal V. Grunke took his ministerial training at Walla Walla College. Shortly after his graduation he married Ruth and together took up their ministry in the Central California Conference. They were living in Chowchilla, CA when news about the Camp McQuaide government property going on the market came to them. Emmett Downing, a member of the Watsonville SDA Church tells this story:
"Capt. George C. Scheppler, M.D. was living in a trailer on my property in Watsonville and I was working at Pep Creameries. One day in February of 1948 Dr. Scheppler came into Pep Creameries and announced that the War Assets Commission (now called the War Assets Administration) had just put Camp McQuaide on its surplus list and it was going to be sold. He wanted to know what we should do. I told him to call Leal Grunke, procurement officer for Central California Conference, and let him know."
After being notified Elder Grunke began to investigate the possibility of purchasing the property, and after seeing the location, was impressed with its suitability for a boarding academy. This was the beginning of his vision for Monterey Bay Academy. But unbeknownst to Elder Grunke, the providence of God had already been at work for the future of Monterey Bay Academy.
Prior to the War Assets Administration putting Camp McQuaide on their surplus list, they had offered the property to Santa Cruz County at a bargain of $1, strictly for the development of a junior college. But it was not to be due to an intense rivalry between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. The two cities had disagreed on almost every major issue since the 1850's. This was no exception. It is evident to us today that the providence of God was in the works.
The property was then offered [to the] State Division of Parks and Beaches for the development of a state park. The state put up their portion of the money but Santa Cruz County could not come up with the matching funds needed for purchasing it. Once again the conversion of the property from war time to peace time use fell through.
With Santa Cruz County turning down the property, Camp McQuaide went on the War Assets Administration's surplus list. A general in the San Francisco office was put in charge of disposing of the property to the highest bidder. The ocean-front property was originally appraised at $650,000, but was reduced to $367,000. Contractors with the desire to subdivide the Camp McQuaide property began submitting bids. Fourteen bids came in ranging from $141,000 to $151,000. All were rejected.
It was about this time that Elder Grunke was notified about the Camp McQuaide property, and his vision for a boarding academy began to take root. He put together a proposal and presented it to Central California Conference officials on May 6, 1948, but was met with almost total resistance. There was no support among conference officials for the development of another academy, let alone a boarding academy. The conference already had three academies and, Lodi Academy was already open to day and boarding students. The need for another school was not deemed necessary. But this resistance didn't stop Elder Grunke. He had a vision for the Camp McQuaide property and refused to give it up. He kept praying and kept pushing, and was finally given permission to apply for the property on behalf of the church.
Part of the condition for the conversion of the property was a guarantee to improve the property over a specified period of time from the date of transfer. Central California Conference approached Northern California conference and the two agreed to participate in funding the required improvements. With the necessary support in place, officials in Washington, D.C. were notified by Elder Grunke of Central California Conference's intent to buy and develop the property for a school.
During this time the Catholic Church learned of the surplus property and the Adventist Church's negotiations with the War AssetsAdministration. They wanted the property as well, and felt that it should be given to them because the camp had been named after a Catholic priest, Father John P. McQuai de. The Catholic Church sent four men to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to halt the transfer of the property to the Adventist Church. They did not succeed, but as a conciliation were given the Catholic chapel that was located on the northwest side of the camp.
When everything was thought to be in place, at the last possible moment just before negotiations were completed, Northern California Conference pulled out of the agreement and left the burden of development to Central California Conference. But once again, this did not discourage Elder Grunke.
God's providence opened the way. With the encouragement and assistance of Mr. John P. Gifford of the U.S. Department of Education, on August 13, 1948 the Seventh-day Adventist Church was awarded Camp McQuaide for conversion into a school facility.
We would like to recall the beginnings of Monterey Bay Academy from one of the first three people who arrived on this campus in 1948. She writes:
"The memory is vivid still, the trailer behind our car swaying gently from side to side. Facing backwards on my knees in the back seat, I can remember only one item contained—it was our piano. I was five.
"My father paused at a strange little one-room building, my mother called it a Guard House. A man in a dull-looking uniform with much brighter buttons stepped out of the cubicle, salute d, and handed my father a key. The man walked crisply to his vehicle and both cars parted, the last soldier representing the Army of the United States of America drove away and we,and our piano, continued deep into the 379 acres, all the way to The General's House. The war had ended, the property was deserted, and we three were the first civilians to enter Camp McQuaide.
"The sparkling sea, the purple-blue flowers, and the staccato-stepping quail were a constant source of delight to a five year old. The former Guard House was now a playhouse in our backyard with a curtain in the window. Our days were full. "Our" work took us over the entire campus. I would accompany Daddy on what he called inventory trips. The Government, whatever that was, required him to give a full accounting for every item, down to the last screwdriver in the shop, and how it could be of benefit to an educational institution. At the completion of this minute task, and without photocopiers, he provided the required 60 copies of the resulting report, which contained 105 pages and was impressively thick. All I knew was that my Daddy and Mama wished Camp McQuaide to become a school due to some man named Matthew challenging my father to "go and teach." When I met Mr. Gifford, the nice man who helped us get the property, I thought maybe his first name was Matthew, but it wasn't.
"From my mother's point of view at 37, life was a happy challenge. While living in a General's House may sound appealing, it was the house in least disrepair. She dodged the garter snakes to hang the linens in the sunshine, battled endless battalions of ants, sang and played the piano whenever needed, entertained at a moment's notice. It was not unusual to have 11 for lunch and 18 for supper! And since we had the one and only phone on campus, when a message was urgent, she climbed on her bike, gently lifted her daughter into the pillowed basket on the handlebars, and the first intercom on campus was in service. My father could have chosen no better helpmate.
"From my father's point of view, at the age of 40, the rewards, challenges and frustrations were endless, as was the stinging undeserved criticism, sleepless nights, blatant fabrications of fact that were all too transparent to those who knew the truth, wading through masses of red-tape, and just plain hard work. But also ceaseless were the earnest prayers, the daily health and sustenance extended from a grac ious God, and the loyal support of those who understood. God's continual leading, Dad's tenacity and unswerving dedication to Christian education, and Mother's constant encouragement made the vision continue on. A school where the Good News of a risen Savior would be the message to teenagers seemed, perhaps, obtainable.
"During the months prior to moving to Camp McQuaide, Dad spent hours in the San Francisco office of John Gifford. During one meeting a messenger arrived with a telegram. Dad noticed Mr. Gifford place it, unopened, at the bottom of a very high stack of papers. Since it was solely Mr. Gifford's concern, Dad did not inquire as to why someone would not open a telegram, which in those days screamed "Top Importance" bordering on "Urgent!" After the acquisition of the property was secure, his by-then-friend Gifford revealed, "Leal, remember the unopened telegram that day in my office. I already knew it was a request from another organization, but I wanted Camp McQuaide to be yours!" The word miracle comes readily to mind. To quote Mother: "John Gifford will need a small wagon to pull in heaven, as his crown will be too heavy to wear." And, contrary to popular church tradition, no money was paid. No, not one dollar or even the proverbial 50 cents! To quote a War Assets Administration document in my possession, "In legal terminology, the camp will be 'sold' at 100% discount." And it was.
"The naming of the school was a given: we were located at Monterey Bay. The choosing of the motto is vague but pure Mother. The choice of P.O. Box 191, Watsonville is a distinct memory. We would drive "into town" every day to pick up the mail, often stopping to retrieve a head of lettuce or a couple of artichokes that had toppled off the produce truck directly ahead. And the first students? What a good natured and adaptable bunch! At one Saturday night program a very tall and bulky "girl" entered wearing a heavy coat and scarf concealing "her" face. I can remember the stifled snickering when "she" sat in the middle of a row of girls on their side of the theater that, due to the stage, had been adapted to an auditorium. When the guffaws could be squelched no longer, one of the teachers made HIM go back to the boys' side! (And, as an aside, if "Mr. Him/Her" is in attendance this weekend, will you kindly make yourself known to me! Your sense of fun is still a fond memory!) And visiting the "big girls" in the half-round barracks that served as temporary dorms was a joy. The rooms were warm and cozy. There was much laughter. The words answered prayer come readily to mind.
"There were those who unkindly labeled this endeavor "Grunke's Folly" and "Shack Town" and made comments such as "here is he that troubleth Israel" but they were seeing only the 600 old buildings and acres of unsightly cement, Camp McQuaide was not aesthetically pleasing. But the prescription of their mental eyeglasses was not the same as Dad's. He was looking beyond the moment and envisioning an academy with manicured lawns and someday, a church spire that would point straight to heaven; a school that would stand as a monument to the cause of God.
"School opened with the maximum number of students that could be accommodated, and on Dedication Day, even at six, I could tell from the back row where the three of us were seated, that the platform overflowed with church dignitaries. Mother, never small-minded and always magnanimous, was sorrowful for my father. When we returned home, in his usual putting-self-aside way, he said, "Ruthie, you know, I know, and God knows."
"There is much more to share, but suffice it to say that God honors unselfish diligence: diligence to His Word, to His calling, and to service for others. Our intent is not to feature the naysayers or to extol praise on two very human beings with foibles common to us all. It is to give glory to a God Who searches until He finds willing servants who, together, forming a partnership and most importantly a friendship, leave the world a better place for those still here. The beauty of this HIS-story is that a loving God's name, for fifty years, has been continually praised.
"At the close of that first week of school in September 1949, as was his custom, my father took an early morning walk on the beach. The same beach where he had prayed with an injured pilot of a private plane that had crashed and a nearby fisherman paid no notice. The same beach where we had leisurely built numerous sandcastles after much stressful work. The same beach that had been the setting for many corn roasts and much group singing, warmed by enormous moonlit campfires. On this early Sabbath day, Dad returned and recounted the beach scene he had witnessed from a distance: a circle of bobby-socked young ladies forming a pr ayer band. His words to Mother and me: "It's all been worth it ~ I've been paid in full."
"Dad died on the Ides of March, 1979, and Mother on Valentine's Day, 1986, both secure in Jesus' love. My parents' daughter can only marvel at the young people my parents will someday meet for the first time, who will share personal gratitude for the life's paths this school put in place. Fifty years of being part of what MBA stands for, former and current and future faculty members experiencing "the miracle of daily witness" and continually dedicating their lives to propelling the Gospel forward and doing all to the glory of our Maker, speaks well of your leadership. God is good.
"Many, many thank you's for the honor of this day; though in absentia, I have every confidence my parents will soon learn of it! I'm certain that God's video will be available for a later screening in the Earth Made New. In looking through Dad's file titled "MBA" I found the following notes from a worship talk he had given, written in his own hand:
"I believe God selected the site by the sea for a boarding academy. He happened to use me as a worker to help Him advance His work and I am so thankful to have had the privilege. My only purpose in life is to be a devoted worker for God and to be at the right place at the right time. Take a boy or girl from ordinary pursuits, teach them faith and confidence in God, and they can go from MBA and do extraordinary things in God's Name."
Stay faithful ~ continue to continue on ~ be of good courage! Never ~ never ~ never give up! God loves you. He has selected you for a purpose. And may He continue to richly bless the students, parents, staff, faculty but mostly The Goal; to consistently proclaim The Mission: To Unite, To Inspire, and to "Go and Teach."
"God's richest blessings on Monterey Bay Academy!"
It is, without a doubt, that if not for Elder Leal V. Grunke there never would have been a Monterey Bay Academy. God laid a burden on this man's heart and he took up that task and saw it through to the end. He was a visionary whose original desire was to see Monterey Bay Academy become a training ground for Christian students to go out into the world and spread the Word of God's love and soon return.