Toni Atkins District 3’s City Councilwoman 2000-08. The Kroll Report concluded that the city council was negligent in its duty to provide accurate financial information to bond investors. In September 2007 Toni supported the 301 University development, as colleagues followed her lead 7-1. Talk of a recall lingered in the autumn air. In September of 2007 a superior judge ruled against the city and the 148-foot project that had been planned for the heart of Hillcrest. Toni is now an assemblywoman.
Joyce Beers (1929-1989) 92103 resident and community activist who was instrumental in the development of the Hillcrest business district — the first association of the kind in San Diego. Joyce served on the SD Transit Board for 16 years, was co-founder of the Uptown Community Planning Committee, ran for city council in 1979 and was the first Executive Director of the Hillcrest Association. Joyce was also instrumental in founding the first homeless shelter for women and children at the YMCA. The meeting center in the Uptown District is rightfully named in her honor.
Edwin Capps (1860-1938) A native of Tennessee and raised in Illinois, Capps came to San Diego in 1886 and began a career as a real estate agent and a mining engineer. He became a civil engineer in 1893 and designed the new police station in 1911. He went on to serve twice as San Diego mayor (1899-1901 and 1915-1917). In his second term Capps and the city council hired Charles Hatfield to deal with the ongoing drought. Edwin gets many kudos for creating the kewl Spruce Street suspension footbridge in 1912.
Helen Witham Chamlee
Helen Witham Chamlee, an assistant curator of botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum, helped found the Florida Canyoneers in 1973 with Nancy Inman serving as chair, Betty Robinson assuming responsibility for training and Claire Brey interviewing prospective candidates to serve as vounteer guides. For seven consecutive Saturdays the group presents training on the plants, animals, geology, history and Native American uses of the canyon.
Lesley & David Cohn
Lesley & David Cohn This extraordinary San Diego restaurant duo bought the Broderick home in nearby Marston Hills following the infamous murder of Dan and his new wife by former spouse, Betty. They’ve now moved downtown closer to their many tasty eateries. Their first restuarant (Corvette Diner) was located in Hillcrest until a 2009 move to Liberty Station. Another 92103 favorite, Kemo Sabe, moved in 2010, but they added 100 Wines in 2012.
Glendon H. Conklin (1926-1997) Printer, businessman and civic booster. His motto was “Watch Hillcrest Grow.” Always working to improve our village, he tirelessly campaigned in the 1930s and 40s to widen Sixth Avenue, a traffic bottleneck even then. Conklin Lithographic (located in 3700 block of Sixth Avenue) remained a family business until shutting its doors in 2001.
Wally Conklin (1926-2004) Wally’s first job in San Diego was setting pins at the Hillcrest Bowl. Twenty years later he owned the place. Working at the bowling alley gave him plenty of time to practice his game, and throughout the ’50s and ’60s Wally became one of the city’s finest amateur bowlers. Wally purchased Hillcrest’s only bowling alley in the early ’60s, selling it in 1973.
Midge Costanza (1932-2010) The first woman elected to the Rochester, NY City Council went on to be the first woman to be named Assistant to the President in 1976 by Jimmy Carter. This self-described “loud-mouth, pushy little broad” worked in the Carter White House as his “window to the nation.” After teaching a course on the presidency at SDSU for several years, the Hillcrest resident worked in DA Bonnie Dumanis’ office as an elder abuse advocate helping seniors protect themselves.
Thomas Crittenden (1825-1905) This Civil War officer retired and moved to San Diego in 1887, becoming a real estate developer. Two years later he filed a deed for the area directly north of the NE corner of City Park (now Balboa Park). The Crittenden Addition included the block where the Marston House is located.
Evelyn de la Rosa With the most beautiful soprano voice that you will every hear, this University Heights/Hillcrest resident has been christened a “vocal and theatrical treasure” by Opera News and the “most colorful coloratura in America” by Opera Monthly. Evelyn has performed at opera companies across the nation including the Houston Grand, San Francisco, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Sacramento Opera, Anchorage Opera, Opera Pacific, Carnegie Hall and Rimrock Opera Company.
George d’Hemecourt Born in New Orleans, this super duper city engineer is responsible for the design of the Quince Street pedestrian bridge over Maple Canyon in 1905. The Bankers Hill resident is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Mission Hills, but as all residents there…his marker has been removed.
Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) Gunslinger, gambler and an early investor in Hillcrest real estate. He’s rumored to have operated a brothel at corner of Fifth and University. Wyatt also enjoyed throwing horseshoes in the back alley.
Rick Edgil Officer Rick, once Hillcrest’s favorite cop (and local history buff), was the second member of San Diego Police Department to come out of the closet (following 10-year veteran John Graham) over a decade ago. When the city had money, Officer Rick was SDPD’s Community Relations Officer and attended the HBIA meetings at the Joyce Beers Community Center in the Uptown District.
Irving Gill (1870-1936) The architect responsible for many fine buildings throughout Hillcrest, San Diego and Southern California. His designs reflect the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement interpreted for the light and climate of the Southwest. Notable designs in the neighborhood include the Marston House and Sunnyslope Lodge.
Todd Gloria This dapper University of San Diego grad (a political science major ’00) became District 3’s new City Councilmember by defeating fellow Democrat Stephen Whitburn in the neighborhood’s first race matching two gay men (and it was nasty with the “Clawgate” mailer sent to voters a few days before the election).
Neil Good (1948-1989) Founder & first publisher in 1984 of Uptown, a community newspaper. Neil was a top aide to SD County Supervisor Leon Williams and a political activist before running as Hillcrest’s representative to the City Council (District 8) in 1987. One local paper, La Prensa, called Neil the best candidate, but would not endorse him because he was gay. “We respect his right to be a homosexual in his private life. His leap into the public arena, however, calls for us to accept homosexuality as a morale (sic) way of life. This we can not do.” A downtown day center for the homeless has been named in his honor. He died of liver failure at 41.
Robert “Bob” Grinchuk
Robert “Bob” Grinchuk The past president of the HBA and the Uptown Partnership is a longtime Hillcrest and Bankers Hill resident who, with his partner Reuel Olin, owns and manages properties throughout the neighborhood including the Wine Lover. Bob’s been active in many organizations throughout the community including the Uptown Planners, The Center and The San Diego Foundation. Bob and Reuel were honored by the Desert Business Association as 2005’s Businessmen of the Year for The Villa Resort in Cathedral City which they no longer own.
James Hartline Ex-gay conservative Christian activist who doesn’t like nudity or the LGBT community where he chooses to live. The rightwing Republican ran for District 3’s City Councilmember in 2008.
Hulda “Sissy” Isham CityFest chair for several years and former president of the Hillcrest Business Association. The San Diego native grew up in neighboring Mission Hills before joining her dad’s Hillcrest accounting busi ness, Betts Professional Services, in 1975.
Dr. Delores Jacobs CEO of The Center and a clinical psychologist with expertise in design and evaluation of management systems, Delores is responsible for managing one of the largest LGBT community centers in the country.
Dwain Kantor (1925-2007) Once a powerful landlord to many of today’s most popular eateries and retail businesses in the heart of Hillcrest. The 1949 graduate of SDSU lead their alumni assocation in 1954.
Mary Kearney (1847-1921) 92103’s first land owner! In 1870 Mary Kearney obtained a deed from the city for the land which will eventually become Hillcrest. She sells it the next year to C. D. Arnold and D. Choate.
Christine Kehoe California Senator Kehoe previously held office in the California Assembly as a Representative for 76th District. Prior to that she was our District 3 City Council representative (1993-2000) during some difficult times for the city. Chris preceded Warren Simon as the Executive Director of the Hillcrest Association. She was also a former editor of the San Diego Gayzette and The Longest Revolution. State Senator Kehoe will long be remembered as the first out-of-the-closet member of the LGBT community elected to SD City Hall.
Cathy Lee was instrumental in the creation of the Hillcrest Clean T.E.A.M. in 2005 and helped to lead this great volunteer effort for over a year. A graduate of UCSD in filmmaking, she has now returned to her Bay Area roots.
Cindy Lehman oversees Hillcrest’s branch of California Bank & Trust as its vice president/manager and was CityFest chair from 1992-1996. Cindy was a founding member and the president of the Uptown Partnership until 2010. She resigned a few month’s later following a negative report from the San Diego County grand jury. Cindy also served on the board of the Hillcrest Business Association until 2010.
Blu MacLaggan (1990-2004) Hillcrest’s beloved “dog in blue slippers” passed away in October 2004. For over fourteen years Blu enjoyed strolling the neighborhood with his “dad” Chuck. As an old man Blu had trouble picking up his feet, but still wanted the exercise. The slippers saved his pads from being worn away.
Aida Mancillas (1953-2009) This Hillcrest resident was a nationally exhibited artist, writer and community arts activist. She was part of the original triad of Stone Paper Scissors designers, who were recipients of several Orchid Awards from the American Institute of Architects public art including the Vermont Street pedestrian bridge. Aida was also a commissioner with the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture and a former president of the Board of Trustees, Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.
George White Marston
George White Marston (1850-1946) Businessman and community booster. Born in Wisconsin George arrived in San Diego in 1870. He founded Marston’s Department Store which was eventually located at Sixth Avenue & C Street. Appointed to the Park Improvement Committee in 1902, he helped raise funds (including $10,000 of his own money) for development and landscaping of Balboa Park (then City Park). In 1904 Marston hired Irving Gill to design a new family home on Seventh Avenue on the northern edge of Balboa Park in Crittenden’s Addition. Until recently the house was a museum open to the public and maintained by San Diego Historical Society which he founded in 1928 and served as its first president, but for financal reasons the society closed it. Besides local interests, Marston also raised funds and made donations to set aside land for Torrey Pines State Park and Anza-Borrego State Park.
Hamilton Marston (1910-2006) A tenacious guardian of Balboa Park and a champion of environmentally sensitive growth and downtown revitalization. “Ham” battled to keep the Naval Hospital from expanding in the heart of the park. Hamilton supported the founding of C-3 — Citizens, Coordinate for Century 3. and was the initiator of the 1974 study Temporary Paradise? funded by the Marston family. George Marston was his grandfather.
Elinor Meadows (1914-2002) Bankers Hill community activist and art teacher. Elinor led the campaign to save the Quince Street pedestrian bridge from demolition in 1987. Her former home at Third & Redwood was honored with historic designation in 2007.
“I am an old bridge. I was the pioneer structure across a lovely canyon. I have carried my share of walkers. I have provided a place to view the bay, a quiet place to pause, to stop and think. I have seen many changes. The bay is busy, the air is heavy, the streets are crowded. My people need me more than ever. But where are they? No one crosses me now. It’s enough to make an old bridge weep.”
— Hand-lettered sign placed on the condemned bridge by Elinor Meadows
Ephraim Morse (1823-1906) Here’s the guy to thank for Balboa Park. Ephraim W. Morse was a visionary and a man of many hats! Ephraim was a farmer and a teacher (from Massachusetts) until gold was discovered in California. He formed a company with 100 close friends and trusted associates, bought a ship, filled it with goods and headed for San Francisco. Mining (the work, as well as the weather) didn’t agree with him, so he moved to San Diego in 1850 and opened a general store. He was also an agent for Wells Fargo & Co. Express and served as the secretary for the Board of Trade for twelve years. In 1856 he began to practice law and was instrumental in bringing the railroad here. He was also County Treasurer from 1858-59 and 1860-63! Early on he learned the Spanish language and was regarded as a friend by the native population. Personally he was a lovable of man, full of unaffected kindness and so unassuming that his real worth and the true value of his services were often not appreciated.
Benjamin Nicholls was the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) Executive Director from January 2009 until summer 2013 after leading the 1,300-plus member business district in Pacific Beach for five years. He also brings experience from the Pioneer Square Community Association, which represents over 800 small businesses and residents in Seattle’s historic downtown. Ben is originally from New Zealand, where he was a legislative assistant for the United NZ Party.
Whether it’s Ramirez, Murray, Ramirez-Murray or Murray-Ramirez as a choice for his last name, Nicole is the LGBT nastiest queen. The Imperial Court Empress de San Diego for an unprecedented six reigns, creator of The Nicky Awards, social columnist and political insider, Nicole continues to be extensively involved in community fundraisers and social movement. This “legend in his own mind” has created a legacy for himself in San Diego queer history.
Father Tony Noble
Father Tony Noble, the Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, who has been instrumental in breathing new life into Hillcrest’s oldest church which was founded in 1897. One hundred-six years later (in 2003) Father Tony relocated from Fitzroy, Australia, an inner-suburb of Melbourne much like our own Hillcrest. We can credit Father Tony for the sweet addition to their traditional Anglocatholic High Mass Easter Vigil — a chocolate party. What a marvelous way for those giving up chocolate for Lent to celebrate the Resurrection! He’s now retired, moved home to Fitzroy and travels the world.
Suanne Pauley Update’s final female Crystal Heart award recipient, member of the InterPride board, CAPI person of the year, boardmember/co-founder of the Asian Story Theater and a fine, upstanding citizen, who has been screwed by several folks in the community. She also bakes a mean mac & cheese!
George Pernicano Owner of Pernicano’s, once the place to go in San Diego for Italian food (and cocktails!). It’s now the biggest eyesore and waste of space in the Hillcrest core. Still frequently sighted in the neighborhood, George is easily recognized by his gruff voice and large (once insured) mustache. After encouragement from Councilman Todd Gloria George opened his lot for community paid parking in 2010.
Queen Eddie (1928-2002) Eddie Conlon was better known by the stage name of the character he created in the ’80s at Bee Jay’s (the present home of Baja Betty’s). Sharing his sage advice and cleaver wit, his advice column, Ask Queen Eddie (first published in Bravo, then in Update) rapidly became a favorite of the LGBT community. Eddie and his long time partner Shawn were happily “married” without any legal rights for over 40 years. After a five-year battle, throat cancer took Queen Eddie’s life. His memory will live on through The Center’s Youth Fund in his name. On a personal note: Eddie had the smoothest skin of any man or woman we know!
Steve Russell As District 3 Council Representative and aide to Toni Atkins, Steve focused on city planning and transit issues. This San Diego native, UCSD grad and an all-round good guy is an architect and has been instrumental in the redevelopment of El Cajon Boulevard.
Lori Saldaña Our former Assemblymember for District 76 was also the Assistant Majority Whip! Before entering politics, Lori was a classroom teacher and community college professor for over 20 years. She was even a field hockey coach! Saldana also served with the leadership of many environmental groups including the Sierra Club and was a member of the board that created Balboa Park’s popular “EarthFair” in 1989.
Ruth Schulman (1916-2008) How many people can say they were born in the very spot where they work? This octogenarian can, because the antique house she and her husband opened in 1973 was once the surgical wing of St. Joseph’s Sanitarium, San Diego’s first hospital. Originally built on the site of Chipotle and Kinkos (and facing east), the structure was moved across the street to its present location (facing north) in 1924 and eventually became Ruth and Victor Schulman’s House of Heirlooms featuring European antiques which they personally collected twice a year on their trips abroad.
Kate Sessions (1857-1940) Horticulturist and “Mother of Balboa Park.” KOS was born on Nob Hill in San Francisco, Kate graduated from UC Berkeley in 1881 with a degree in natural sciences. She owned and operated of succession of nurseries in San Diego. In 1892 she leased 30 acres of City Park, as it was called then, to operate a plant nursery. In exchange for rent, she agreed to plant 100 trees per year. Balboa Park, Hillcrest and Bankers Hill canyons are filled with remembrances of Kate. She was appointed to the Park Improvement Committee in 1902 and helped raise funds for development of (renamed) Balboa Park. Her nursery eventually moved to Pacific Beach near the site of the city park now named in her honor.
Warren Simon Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association from 1989-2008. Warren was honored for his dedicated community service by Councilmember Toni Atkins during her 2005 State of District 3 Address.
Lynn Susholtz Visual artist and arts educator. Her art consortium with Aida Mancilla and Gwen Gomez — Stone Paper Scissors, designed the art for the Vermont Street Bridge. Lynn was also instrumental in the 2003 exterior update of Florence Elementary School collaborating with Andrea Singer and the honors students in graphic design from City College.
William Wesley Whitson (1866-1958) One of the handful of businessmen who deeded tracts of land in uptown for development in the early 1900s. Whitson’s 40-acre tract (the former George Hill Estate purchased in 1907 for $115,000) was located northwest of Fifth and University avenues. Laura Anderson, his sister-in-law, suggested the name “Hillcrest” for the development and the name evolved to encompass the surrounding neighborhood. WWW is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery near the “Father of San Diego” — Alonzo Horton.
Dr. Stanley Willis
Dr. Stanley Willis (1924-2004) Once described by Dr. Seuss as a “psycho-legalistic-wine bibing-thesbianistic-seagoing hotelier,” this long-time owner of the Park Manor Hotel (now the Inn at the Park) pumped over a million dollars into restoring the grandeur of the 1926 landmark.
Harriet Wimmer (1900-1980) Landscape architect and “flawless hostess” — Harriet grew up in the neighborhood (at 3969 Third Avenue) and attended Florence School. At the age of 51, she opened her own landscape architecture office in the Design Center on Fifth Avenue. The superb landscape designs she created benefited from her knowledge of local gardening and a close collaboration with progressive post-war architects. In 1954 she hired a talented young Berkeley graduate, Joe Yamada, to work as her apprentice. They became an award winning team quickly. Six years later they formed a successful business partnership.
Mike Wright Mike and his business partner Alan Bilmes owned and operated the popular City Deli at Sixth & University from 1984 until 2013. This Minnesota native served in the Peace Corps in Africa before moving to San Diego. Mike was a longtime HBA board member, twice elected president of the business group. The world traveler is also an avid bicyclist, averaging over 50 miles a week.