Residents remembered with dedication benches in Del Mar

By Claire Harlin

After a 14-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, former Del Mar postal worker Bobby Carter passed away last April. But his combined 35 years of postal and military service isn’t forgotten, and his memory will be further preserved for posterity with a dedication bench placed recently in front of the post office.

“Everybody knew Bobby. He was probably the most beloved postal employee ever,” said co-worker Nick Brumbach, who sponsored the installation of the bench. “People would come in and wait for Bobby.”

The dedication bench is one of 15 installed around downtown Del Mar as part of an ongoing downtown revitalization effort. Each bench cost $2,000 and was paid for in part by a resident donor, with a matching a grant of $10,000 for the entire bench project coming from the County of San Diego as part of its Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. The Del Mar Village Association (DMVA), which facilitated the grant process, donor outreach and installation, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 22 to say “thank you” to the donors who made it possible to install the benches around the city.

Del Mar resident Bernadette Watkins was in for a surprise after her husband, Jim, donated funds to have a bench dedicated to her.

The surprise came on Christmas Day, when the couple was taking a stroll up 15th Street.

“I pretended to have a heart attack and had to sit down on the bench,” Jim recounted. It was then when his wife noticed the plaque on the bench with her name on it.

One of the benches was dedicated to Eddie and Lisa Villalpando, who lost their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in a tragic vehicle accident. The Villalpandos’ son, Ryan, his wife, Veronica, and the couple’s two young children — one seven months old and the other 4 years old — all died after being hit by a semi on Feb. 13, 2010.

The dedication ceremony, held at the office of local lawyer Bing Bush Jr., fell on what would have been Ryan’s 35th birthday. Ryan and his wife were both teachers in the Redlands area, and both had hopes of becoming principals.

The Villalpandos are clients of Bush and are in the process of relocating to Del Mar — a longtime family vacation spot for them. The couple attended the ceremony, and although difficult, Bush said it “really meant a lot to them to have it on Ryan’s birthday.”

“They’ve been through so much,” said Bush. “That bench will really help this place feel like home to them.”

A number of donors contributed to honor the late Helen Glaser, a Del Mar resident of many years, with a bench.

“Well known for her active participation in a number of Del Mar organizations, knowledge of Del Mar facts and faces, and vibrant personality, [she] is greatly missed but certainly not forgotten,” reads a statement by the DMVA. Glaser’s bench was dedicated in a separate ceremony on Jan. 28.

For more information on the DMVA Streetscape Sponsorship program, visit and click the “About DMVA” link.