Former mayor’s book tells Del Mar’s story

As the former five-time mayor of Del Mar, Tom Pearson knows much more than a thing or two about the county’s smallest city. In fact, many of the stories in his nearly 500-page book, “Exceptional Fortitude,” take place in Del Mar.

Thanks to the Del Mar Historical Society, readers can now more easily learn about the history of the city when reading the book as the organization had its high school intern create an index for all proper nouns, from local places to notable people’s names.

Canyon Crest Academy sophomore Jim Luo and Pearson finally had the opportunity to meet recently after the completion of the months-long project.

“It’s pretty interesting to meet Tom and see how he is now, after reading about all he’s accomplished all his life,” said 15-year-old Luo, a Carmel Valley resident who previously lived in Del Mar.

Written in chronological order, the book covers Pearson’s life from his childhood days in Maine to his adult life in Del Mar. It follows his diagnosis with polio as a young adult, his graduation from MIT and Harvard, his marriage to his late wife Christine and their family, but most of all, it follows the history of Del Mar.

Pearson moved to Del Mar in 1959 to work on nuclear submarines for General Atomics, and it was the encouragement of his wife that sparked his involvement in city government, which began on the Planning Commission and continued through five terms as mayor in Del Mar.

“I’m starting to read it again,” said 89-year-old Pearson. “There’s so much stories. My goodness! I’m so happy to have found it again. I’m still happy to talk about the stories.”

Del Mar also became a city in 1959. The book touches on that and every decade thereafter in Del Mar, covering the first 50 years of cityhood.

“Tom’s been meaning to write a book for 15, 20 years,” explained Antonio Dupont, a local computer consultant who met Pearson in 2006 after helping someone else write a book.

Despite losing nearly all of his photos and records in a fire, Pearson had collected about 600 newspaper clippings detailing the history of Del Mar, but needed help assembling them into a book. As a volunteer, Dupont agreed to help with the project.

About two months after the pair started working together, however, Pearson suffered a stroke.

“I saw him in the hospital, and I promised that we’d finish it,” Dupont said.

For four years, they worked together as much as possible whenever they could, anywhere from one to two hours per week, to 10-15 hours per week. Pearson self-published “Exceptional Fortitude: The Life of Tom B. Pearson” in 2010.

“His story needed to be told,” Dupont said. “He’s accomplished a lot of things and had a lot of good life stories. There’s a lot of good life lessons to learn.”

For more about the book or to purchase a copy, visit