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Historic preservation suffered

this past year from the loss of these highly effective and beloved advocates

James Ahern, 1925-2009
SOHO and the Gaslamp Quarter lost a champion fighter with the passing of Jim Ahern.

Ahern was among the first businessmen to recognize the historic and economic value of the Gaslamp Quarter. The Ahern Group, a family business, bought and resurrected several of the neighborhood's late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings and rented them to restaurants and art galleries.

He also helped establish downtown's Chinese/Asian Thematic Historic District and served on the Gaslamp Quarter Association's Land Use and Planning Committee for about 10 years, five of them as chair.

Jim publicly denounced the Centre City Development Corp. for its plans to demolish the T.M. Cobb Building, saying the public redevelopment agency was "not for the betterment of historicity in any way, shape or form."

SOHO member David Swarens said, "Jim was a good communicator and had a big heart. He came from a developer's and investor's point of view, but he understood historic resources were an important element in the revitalization of an undervalued neighborhood."

In 1996, SOHO honored Jim Ahern with a Preservationist of the Year Award, calling him "a tireless ally of historic preservation."

Suzanne Catherine Fear, 1937-2010
Sue began as a volunteer tour guide and joined the Friends of the Marston House soon afterwards. When SOHO took over operations, she was a champion of that transition and instrumental in producing our first period Christmas exhibition in December 2009 at the house.

While some of us at SOHO only had a brief time to get to know Sue, she was a real advocate for the goals and plans of the organization and we will certainly miss her.

Larry Ford, 1943-2009
A nationally known expert on urban development, Dr. Ford wrote several books including Cities and Buildings: Skyscrapers, Skid Rows and Suburbs. A recent poll of architects and planners ranked him among the world's top 100 urban thinkers.

SOHO cofounder Carol Lindemulder said, "Larry was very insightful about the importance of neighborhoods, their relationship to each other and to downtown, walking corridors, all those kinds of things were things that he understood; he had a perspective that no one else could offer in the same way."

In the early 1970s, Dr. Ford was active with Save Our Heritage Organisation and the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Committee. "He was known as the SOHO punster, he could make a pun out of every sentence ever said. Everybody loved Larry." Lindemulder continued.

"He played an important role in preserving Belmont Park," said friend and colleague Molly McClain. "His work was really important for San Diego history. He mapped the city geographically like no one else has."

Madelon Whittemore Seamans, 1926-2010
As one of the most ardent and longtime supporters of the Marston House, Madelon worked hard to raise funds for the property and was very successful in helping to raise over $15,000 for the carriage house restoration fund, which now resides in that fund under SOHO to be used for that purpose. Madelon was eminently pleased to see the carriage house opened and flourishing as a museum shop.

And even in her passing she continued to share with her love and support for the property. SOHO received $10,000 from her estate for the maintenance and upkeep of the Marston House.

She was an elegant and thoughtful woman and SOHO staff was honored to have known her in this brief period.

Nancye Maurer Splinter, 1947-2009
Nancey Splinter was an ardent activist and advocate of Historical Preservation beginning when she lived in La Mesa and continuing when she moved to Coronado. Nancye served on the Board of the Coronado Historical Association and was the rallying force in enacting the Historic Preservation element for the city of Coronado, including the Mills Act for preservation of historic homes.

She was the recipient of SOHO's Preservationist of the Year award in 2004 and was a dynamic and inspirational influence in all of the organizations and projects that were important to her. Nancye will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her, and she leaves mighty big shoes to fill for her roll as advocate for Coronado.

Sandrina "Sunny" Tarasuck, 1920-2010
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Sandrina Tarasuck was the daughter of Italian immigrants John and Pauline Pesa. Nicknamed "Sunny" by a young classmate, the name stuck with her throughout her lifetime as a testament to her happy demeanor.

She was an active member of Sweetwater Women's Club, Save Our Heritage Organisation, San Diego Historical Society and Mission Hills United Church of Christ, where she could often be seen wearing her signature hats. Sunny was the first receptionist for the architectural firm Marc Tarasuck, AIA and Associates, and was also a pre-school educator, as well as the guide for the historic Sherman-Gilbert House in Heritage Park for the County of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.

Joe Toigo, 1919-2010
His affection for San Diego's Old Town started in 1940, when Joe met his future wife there at a dance at the neighborhood church.

Old Town was his home since his 1941 marriage to the former Carmen Cerda and the couple were part of the fabric of the community for more than half a century. The Toigos worked for the historical preservation of the community.

His artistry can be seen in the diorama on exhibit at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's visitor center. The 10-foot by 12-foot model depicts a typical working day in 1870 and is an authentic and accurate rendering of Old Town.

Mr. Toigo became an expert on Old Town history by doing extensive research and was a volunteer consultant on renovation and redevelopment projects in the area. "Joe was quite an authority on the buildings of Old Town," said Geoffrey Mogilner, a local business owner. "I think that building the models was Joe's way of immersing himself in history. I really think he time-traveled when he was working on his models."

His love of the Old Town community was felt by all who had the good fortune to meet him. He will be missed.

Volume 41 - 2010


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From the Editor

The Cosmopolitan Hotel: A Resurrection of the Past

Most Endangered List of Historic Resources

Lead Paint: What's at Stake?

The California Theatre Under Siege

10-Year Anniversary at the Whaley House

Marston House - First Year Retrospective

People In Preservation Winners

An Evening Well Spent at PIP

Preservation Community


Book Review

Strength in Numbers

Donations 2010

Lost San Diego


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