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Remembering John Kerridge
Bud Emerson | Klish Way


Photo courtesy Carol Kerridgr
more pictures of John's 1926 Frazer-Nash here

John was a true Del Mar original. Others in the scientific and vintage auto communities laud his many contributions, but in Del Mar we know the extraordinary contributions he made to building our community. He was an environmentalist in the best sense of the word, walking his talk.

He understood and articulated the delicate balance of the relationship between man-made structures and the gifts of nature. His voice, with its courtly British accent, informed many of our public discussions and decisions. How many times have we heard him comment “essentially, it is all about land use--if we get that right, everything else falls into place”?

I can’t remember any big decision made in his 40+ years here where John was not vitally involved. He loved local politics and played an active role in every City Council campaign. He was here when we determined to save the lagoon. He was here when we decided to tax ourselves to preserve open space and parks, “keeping greenery in the scenery.” He was here when we challenged the fairgrounds to respect the fragile lagoon estuary. He was here when we reclaimed the public beach front.

Again and again his voice, “if we want to differentiate Del Mar from other towns, we have to have the courage to make smart strategic decisions.”

John took over the editorship of the Sandpiper and for years made it the powerful voice of the Community Plan, constantly reminding us what we need to preserve and protect. Even after he relinquished the reins of the paper, he mentored and advised his successors to stay true to its core mission. No one deserved more the title we bestowed on him in his final days, “Editor Emeritus.” John’s name will be forever listed with the Sandpiper editors.

Very active on numerous city committees, John stood out as the leader on the Planning Commission for years, carefully crafting the rules and regulations needed to limit and guide growth. It was always comforting to the rest of us who could relax because John was on the case, knowing that he would be diligently digging into the details and always keeping his eye on the big picture.

Whenever we needed to raise a little hell at city hall, John would alert the troops, “it is vital that you be there Monday night” and we could count on him always to deliver very trenchant remarks to get the Council’s attention. How many times did we see a Council discussion going down some rabbit hole and John’s logic pulling them back to a more strategic perspective?

He and I served on the DMVA board together for awhile where he was passionate about taming traffic. He used the term “river of steel,” saying our downtown should not be dominated by cars but a place for “pedestrians to walk”
John was a classic “pull” leader. Not a leader who pushes to get things done. A leader who uses logical reasoning and persuasion to convince others and influence decision makers. His idea of power was to share it, not husband it. He recruited and motivated many many other citizens to join committees and run for City Council. He understood that Del Mar has an extraordinarily talented pool of citizens who need to be involved if we want to build a special community.

John’s style of leadership featured unusual combinations of qualities. He could be cooly logical and he could be intensely passionate. He could be patient and he could be insistent. He liked to talk and he was a good listener. He was respectful of differing views and he was willing to confront when appropriate. He respected others and he was impatient with weak reasoning. He could be serious and he had an engaging sense of humor.

John truly loved being an active citizen of Del Mar. He believed we were all involved in a long-term effort to craft a distinctive quality of life for generations to come. He left his mark on our town in ways that we will benefit from for a long time. We will miss this fine leader.

John’s 1926 beloved Frazer-Nash at the Vehicles of Character Rally in September 2005. Photos Larry Brooks


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