Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society to honor longtime volunteer with ‘Rea Mowery Garden’


The Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society will honor Rea Mowery for his contributions to the community and the historical society at a reception commemorating the “Rea Mowery Garden” at 10:30 a.m. May 2 at La Flecha House.

One of the historical society’s earliest volunteers, Mowery was instrumental in obtaining the historically significant La Flecha House for the society in 1988. Located at 6036 La Flecha in the Village of Rancho Santa Fe, the home’s first residents were Sydney R. Nelson, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company’s manager, and his wife, Ruth, and son.

“We will forever be indebted to the contribution Rea Mowery made to the historical society and to the community,” said John Vreeburg, president. “Rea was involved in creating and nurturing so many of the organizations in the ranch. lt is to thank him for his foresight and spirit that we will be honoring him.”

La Flecha House was designed by Lilian Rice and built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1923 to house the Nelsons as the railroad’s Santa Fe Land Improvement Company started to develop what is now the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant. ln 1960, E. I. (Bud) and Marguerite Reitz bought the property, which Bud used as an office for his lumber business. When they later decided to dispose of some assets, the couple initially offered the building to Mowery, who instead suggested they donate it to the historical society in 1984.

ln 1989, the Covenant received California historical landmark status for the community as a whole, and La Flecha House was recognized as Landmark No. 1.

Mowery, who died at the age of 91 last year at his daughter’s home in Whittier, came to the ranch in 1968 as a cartographer for the Rancho Santa Fe Association after retiring as a U. S. Marine Corp. chief warrant officer and Marine gunner. “It was kind of interesting to come from Da Nang (Vietnam) and four days later start working in Rancho Santa Fe,” he once said, “It’s the best tour of duty I ever had. I came here and never |eft.”

Because of a lapse in record-keeping during the lean years of the Depression and World War II, the association found itself with some 500 homes with no street addresses. Mowery was given the job of updating and coordinating the Covenant and San Diego County records. Another part of his job was to codify the Covenant and explain the rules to homeowners.

He later became building commissioner, manager of the association, and then a founding officer of the Rancho Santa Fe National Bank, serving for 21 years as vice president and director of community relations. When the bank held its grand opening celebration, he persuaded the board members to donate the funds they would have spent on the party to the newly formed Rancho Santa Fe Foundation instead.

Mowery also was a 35-year member of the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club, where he served as president and on the board of directors. ln addition, he served on the boards of the Rancho Santa Fe Library and Garden Club. When active in the Rancho Community Center, Mowery helped to start the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center.

He even was behind the beautifully landscaped median strips on Paseo Delicias in the Village. Mowery’s volunteer efforts also included Children’s Hospital, Boy Scouts of America, and the American Red Cross.

“What’s important is being able to help somewhere,” he once said. “If you want to live, and live happy, participate. Participation is the key to the whole thing.”

For reservations to attend the tribute, please call Administrator Sharon Alix at 858-756-9291.