Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Historical society honors longtime residents, a business, and one of its own

FALLBROOK – At its annual awards ceremony June 26, the Fallbrook Historical Society presented the 2016 Pioneer of the Year award to longtime residents James Grevatt and Patricia Orcutt Showalter. This year, a new award was announced, the Member of the Year award, which went to Mary Belton. The Vintage Business of the Year Award was presented to Durling Nursery, a fourth generation family-run business.

Pioneers of the Year

James Grevatt was 11 years old when he came to live in Fallbrook in 1947. His parents had purchased a 10 acre avocado and lemon grove between West Ivy and West Dougherty Street. He entered seventh grade at Fallbrook Grammar School, now Maie Ellis Elementary.

He graduated from Fallbrook High School in 1953 and entered Palomar College to become a science teacher. He worked part-time for several local employers, including River Road nursery, the Fallbrook Baptist Church and later the Chevron Gas Station.

Grevatt was married to a fellow Fallbrook High graduate, Patricia Klaviter, from 1956 until her death in 2002. Together they raised four children: Sharon, Mike, Gail and Lois. Their grandson, niece and nephew are all graduates of Fallbrook High School.

Grevatt continued his studies at San Diego State University, eventually earning a master's degree. He had a long and fulfilling career in teaching, while continuing to help care for the Fallbrook acreage.

After his father's death, Grevatt purchased the Fallbrook property from his mother. The small home was soon remodeled. The new addition was built with the old house inside, and now his entire childhood home is his family room.

Still a proud Fallbrook Warrior, Grevatt is an active member of the Fallbrook Alumni Association and volunteers for the Fallbrook Historical Society. He is known for driving around town in his 1928 Model A Ford, which has been seen at the Hot Summer Nights events and the yearly local car club show. "Fallbrook is restful but there is a lot to do here," he said. "Living in Fallbrook has always been a positive experience for me!"

Patricia Orcutt Showalter was born in Jamestown, New York, and came to Fallbrook with her parents, Bessie and Dewey Orcutt, in 1942. Her father worked at Camp Pendleton as a carpenter and eventually became a licensed building contractor. The family lived on property near Sandia Creek where they commercially raised rabbits for meat until a fire burned their barn. "It was so much work to keep hundreds of cages of rabbits well fed, clean and cool during hot weather," she said.

Showalter attended Fallbrook schools from eighth grade through high school. Meanwhile, her two older brothers, Dana and Bud (Ellis), also became licensed building contractors. The Orcutt men built countless homes that still stand in Fallbrook, contributing to the lasting character of the town.

She married Dale Showalter in 1947 and raised three children: Terry, Gary and Tim. She worked at Larry's Cafe, Buy and Save Market, the Bank of Fallbrook, Rainbow Municipal Water District, and the Fallbrook branch of Oceanside Federal Savings and Loan.

She enjoyed being room mother in the children's Fallbrook classrooms during their elementary school days, and she was one of the founding members of the Bona Dea's, a women's service club that consisted of wives of the Twenty-Thirty Men's club. Both groups did good deeds in the community.

In 1973, Showalter had to leave Fallbrook for work, but returned in 2005 after retiring from the San Diego Community College District. "Fallbrook is home," she explained. Her son Tim and many nieces and nephews still live in Fallbrook. She continues to be an active member of the Fallbrook United Methodist Church and the Fallbrook Historical Society.

Member of the Year

Mary Belton had heard her older sister, Gloria, talking about some connection with founders of a small town homestead back in family history, but she paid little attention to the story as she grew up.

In 2012, Belton and her husband were looking for a new home. The realtor suggested that they see a property in Fallbrook. Belton happened to call her sister Gloria, who then was living in Texas, as they were driving, and when she mentioned that she was on her way to Fallbrook, her sister became excited. "That is what I tried to tell you, she said. "It was our ancestors who founded Fallbrook!

Belton and her husband did move to Fallbrook, and she immediately began researching her family history. She learned that Vital C. Reche, born in Montreal, Canada, homesteaded land in Live Oak Canyon and became the "founder" or first non-native settler in the area in 1869. Vital named his ranch, "Fall Brook."

His brother, Antoine (Anthony) C. Reche, selected an adjoining claim. Anthony and his wife Menora had a son on June 24, 1873, the first non-native child born in the area. He was named Anthony C. Reche, Jr. and he was Mary Belton's grandfather.

Belton never met her grandfather Anthony, but her older sister, Gloria, spent a great deal of time with him until his death in 1945. Unfortunately, Gloria also passed away in 2015.

Belton is an active member of the board of directors of the Fallbrook Historical Society. She represents Fallbrook on the CINCH committee, which is an group of historical societies and organizations in North County. She staffs a booth promoting Fallbrook Historical Society at Local Events and works with schools to share history with our children.

She recently lead a group of students, with the help of professional artist Daniel Martinez, in painting murals on the grounds of the Pittenger House. She was responsible for placing a display of citrus labels at the Juice Vault to bring a piece of Fallbrook's history to the community, and she is recording the memories of the surviving members of the founding families.

Belton goes above and beyond, helping the community in countless ways, and she continues to research and record the Reche family tree and memories. She has found that her great-grandfather, Vital Reche, was friends with Frederick Douglass, and that Vital's daughter, Helene was friends with Susan B. Anthony.

Mary has followed the Reche lineage all the way back to Louis XV, King of France! "It is not the royal connection that means the most to me," she said. "It is my sense of connection to Fallbrook through my family that is important. I only wish that my sister were here to share it with me."

Vintage Business of the year

Durling Nursery, a fourth generation family-run tree nursery is one of the most successful Fallbrook businesses, based on annual sales. Established in San Diego County in 1926 by Clarence Durling, the nursery then grew citrus and avocado trees mainly for orchard plantings. After WWII, Clarence asked his son Robert to join the business.

The nursery moved to the Morro Hills area of Fallbrook in the early 1960's. There were dirt roads in that area then, and the Durling children grew up with typical grove chores such as planting, staking, weeding and watering trees.

By the 1970's, business had increased and Robert's son Don Durling had joined the company. It was then that the operation moved to 175 acres in the De Luz area of Fallbrook. There, the soil was rich, the climate was free of frost and there was plentiful, deep hard-rock well water. Robert's daughter, Carol Elder, was brought in to manage the office, and Don's son Kevin became shop manager.

Don Durling retired in 2009, and Robert Durling passed away at age 94 in 2013. Robert's daughter, Carol, became CEO and her husband, Wayne Elder, is now the nursery manager. Their son, Craig, is operations manager and his wife, Wendy, is office manager. At least one fifth generation Durling, granddaughter Callie Elder, is standing in the wings.

For 37 years, nursery foreman Juan Garcia has kept the nursery running smoothly. His son, Joel, is the field and loading dock supervisor. Joel's wife, Amber, is the assistant office manager.

Today, Durling Nursery customers include movie stars, world leaders, shoppers at Home Depot, and many other retailers. Martha Stewart visited and filmed the nursery for her television show. The strong family tradition of Durling Nursery is a great fit with the culture of Fallbrook. Durling fruit trees grace gardens and provide fresh citrus world-wide.


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