Bench dedicated to former mayor of Del Mar

New spot now known as Pearson’s Perch

The year was 1965.

Del Mar was newly incorporated as a city, and Mayor Tom Pearson was busy watching over its progress. For the times he was able to step away from the political sphere, Pearson found a spot in town that he could rely on for reflection and solitude. That location, high above Camino Del Mar, just below the Rock Haus, consisted of a wooden bench that offered sweeping views of the ocean under the shade of nearby trees.

But the bench was removed in the late 1980s to make way for construction of the Del Mar Plaza. Roughly fifteen years later, Pearson, who contracted Polio as a young adult, suffered a stroke and is now in a wheelchair.

And when Pearson, the only five-term mayor in the history of Del Mar, scheduled an appointment with City Planner Adam Birnbaum roughly one year ago, he only had one request.

“He brought me pictures of this bench and he explained to me, ‘I want this bench to go back in,’” Birnbaum said. “I told him that we really didn’t have any money for capital projects, but I said let me see what I can do.”

Birnbaum contacted the Del Mar Rotary Club and contracting company Steigerwald-Dougherty, who worked together to replicate the bench as it looked in 1965.

After six months of construction and fundraising, Pearson returned last Wednesday for a rededication of his favorite spot, now known as “Pearson’s Perch.”

In tears while surrounded by roughly 30 of his closest supporters, the former mayor and Rotarian thanked everyone for recreating this location.

“My friends, listen, I want to say I am happy and happy and happy for all of you because this is great for me. Look, this is great,” he said of the sweeping view.

Rounds of applause followed his sentimental statement.

The numbers “1965″ were re-engraved on the cement that sits below the bench. A plaque was affixed to a nearby rock dedicating the spot to Pearson.

Current Mayor Richard Earnest, whom Pearson helped get started in politics, said this honor trumps any political controversy that may have come during his career.

“It’s above all that,” he said. “This isn’t about politics. The man is very valuable to our community and he deserves it.”

Several longtime business owners and staples of Del Mar came out to the ceremony, which was not a city-sanctioned event.

John Wingate, owner of En Fuego Cantina, said Pearson’s connection to Del Mar is easily measurable.

“We’re probably all just one or two separations away from Tom Pearson,” said Wingate, who credits Pearson with finding the best location for his restaurant. “Each person that was there, yeah they had a story because he had caused a positive impact on just about everybody that was there.”

Pearson was one of the last to leave after the ceremony ended, taking in the view under the Southern California sun. Earnest said he hopes this bench will provide those who visit the same kind of inner peace that it did for the former mayor.

“I hope people just sort of sit there in quiet solitude and think about the city, think about Tom, think about whoever is sitting beside them, and have a nice conversation and enjoy life,” he said.

Rotarian Marty Peters said the Rotary Club of Del Mar Foundation has raised half the cost to install the bench through private donations and is accepting donations. Send checks to P.O. Box 552, Del Mar, CA 92014.

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  3. Mayor’s View: Crawford embraces third term as mayor
  4. Mayor proposes pay cuts, higher fees
  5. Nichols’ term as mayor is up

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