Most anything that’s happened in Del Mar over the past 90 years, Tensia Moriel Trejo has not only known about it, she was likely at its forefront.
Or so it seemed as Mayor Terry Sinnott read through an abridged listing of her accomplishments last week as the city commemorated Sept. 8 — her 90th birthday — in her honor.
Born in Del Mar in 1927 to parents who had fled the Mexican Revolution, Tensia was among the first classes of the Americanization School, the now-infamous forced-segregation facility in La Colonia. As an 8-year-old, she attended the first county fair held in Del Mar. When horseracing arrived the following summer, she was there, too. A stint in the Junior USO followed her graduation from San Dieguito High School in 1945. Marriage came a year later, then her two children.
When Del Mar marked its centennial in 1985, Tensia helped launch the Del Mar Historical Society. The next year, she was among the brave handful to take the inaugural Penguin Plunge, the New Year’s tradition that now draws nearly 1,500 participants.
Her devotion to the area’s history continued with her hand in creating the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. In 2015, that devotion won her the Southwest Oral History Association’s special service award. She remains actively involved with the Del Mar Historical Society as well as Friends of the Powerhouse.
She has often attributed her longevity to a lifetime as an avid runner — a practice she maintained long into her golden years — but these days what fuels her fire is her work to preserve Del Mar’s history.
The day after her birthday, three dozen of her closest friends and relatives gathered at the Del Mar Library to shower her with thanks and congratulations, surrounded by a stockpile of newspaper clippings and other artifacts that embody her indelible imprint on Del Mar.
A particular passion over the past 15 years has been Del Mar Voices, an award-winning effort to record and archive oral histories from the city’s longest residents. Many of those materials are stored in a nook of the library where — when the building was the St. James Catholic Church — a 6-month-old Tensia had been baptized.
“Ninety years, I don’t put it in years, I just put it in the great time that I’ve had here in Del Mar and the people I have known — and hopefully, more that I will know,” she said at the Sept. 5 city council meeting. “Thank you so much for this honor. I will continue to take care of the history. I have over 51 binders on the history of Del Mar and probably all of you are in it, because if you do something in Del Mar, I gotcha.”