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So Long, Garry | Garry Shirts Rememberred | I Remember by Garry Shirts


So Long, Garry!
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera


Garry Shirts.  Photo Art Olson

Garry Shirts was a longtime Del Mar resident and much loved community leader. He was a keen observer of human nature and had a disarming sense of humor, traits that he used both personally and professionally. Garry had earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. In his professional career, Garry earned an international reputation for his work in devising simulations that were used effectively in organizational strategic planning and cross-cultural training.

As a neighbor of Garry Shirts, I came to appreciate him through numerous interactions, some light-hearted and others more weighty. His unassuming manner and “regular guy” demeanor belied his intellectual accomplishments and deeply caring attitude. Garry looked after his neighbors, and was always willing to lend a hand. He used his self-deprecating wit to ease the impact of even the most difficult circumstances. On one occasion, during the time he was undergoing estrogen hormone treatment for his protstate cancer, he “confessed” to me that at unpredictable intervals he would suddenly be overcome with the urge to go shopping, and that carrying Cozzett’s purse had become second nature.

Garry loved Del Mar and tried to make it even better through his community involvement. He was involved in many early efforts to flesh out the Community Plan. He was an enthusiastic participant in the citizen committees who helped formulate the Del Mar 2000 Plan for downtown. During the ‘80s when the green/gray conflicts were underway, he was always respected by all factions as a leader with integrity even though he was identified with the “greens. “ At one point there was an effort to mediate factional differences involving a dozen community leaders--Garry was the unanimous choice to facilitate those interactions. Garry took the lead in organizing a large undergrounding district, which was defeated by voters after two years of community organizing work. When asked if he regretted losing after so much time and effort, he responded, “I have no regrets. I think this is what good citizenship is all about. I invested my time and effort in something that I thought would be good for the community, but I respect that a majority of neighbors disagreed. You don’t win them all, but I know that I gave it my best.” It is clear that Garry practiced what he preached: life has its ups and downs; do what you can, and make the best of what is.



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