A few years after he returned from World War II, where he was decorated with several awards, Bill Arballo set to work preserving the North County community that he loved.
Arballo, who was a key member of the committee to incorporate Del Mar then served as its third Mayor in 1962, died of natural causes on Dec. 8 at the age of 92.
Community service is a path his daughter Teresa Barth also followed, as she served on the Encinitas City Council from 2006-14, including as Mayor in 2013.
Born in 1924 in Nestor, Arballo’s family also lived in Oceanside and Carlsbad before settling in Del Mar. In the mid-1930’s Bill’s widowed father, Loreto Arballo, moved the family to Del Mar where he found work at the local farms and ranches.
Bill Arballo attended San Dieguito High School and Oceanside-Carlsbad High School, graduating in 1942. He enlisted in the Army and served as a medic in North Africa and Italy during World War II. It was there that he earned a host of awards including the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Medical Badge 1st Award.
He married Angelyn Johnson in 1948 and they settled in Del Mar, where Arballo became active in numerous civic projects.
He was one of a handful of community leaders who successfully fought plans to route Interstate 5 through the coastal communities from Leucadia to Del Mar.
“We tend to forget that after World War II, we had all of these men come home from the war and they were determined to move forward and raise their families and help the community,” Barth said. “That was the greatest generation.”
Arballo also was a driving force behind the acquisition and opening of San Dieguito Park, just east of Solana Beach and the incorporation of the city of Del Mar. In 1960, he was elected to the Del Mar City Council.
“He one of the core of people that wanted to preserve the community so it wouldn’t just get swallowed up by the city of San Diego,” Barth explained.
Later, his work as a correspondent for United Press International and the Copley News Service, took Arballo to Hilo, Hawaii where his reporting included interviews with visiting president Richard Nixon, vice-president Gerald Ford and Apollo astronauts training for moon landings at Volcano National Park.
As co-founder and first president of the Big Island Press Club, Arballo pushed for Hawaii County to conduct the public’s business in public. In 1971, the Big Island Press Club won its “right-to-know” lawsuit against Hawaii County in federal court.
Later, the family returned to California and Arballo took the position as public relations director for the the Del Mar Fairgrounds. He also was an early supporter and long-time board member of the Mexican American Educational Guidance Association (MAEGA), a fundraising group that provides scholarships to Latino students in the San Dieguito Union High School District.