Edwin F. De La Torre
Edwin F. de la Torre, 84, passed away January 20, 2020 after battling various health issues over the past 4 years. Ed was born at St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara, June 5, 1935 to parents Frank and Mary (Girardot) de la Torre. His earliest known de la Torre ancestor, Jose Joaquin de la Torre, came to this country as a soldier from Spain in the later 18th century. He married Maria de los Angeles Cota, who was born at Presidio Santa Barbara in 1790. Their son, Ed’s great grandfather, Jose Antonio, homesteaded in Santa Barbara in the Rattle Snake Canyon area. His wife, Josefa Soledad Olivera, was the granddaughter of Scotsman George Stewart, a mutineer on the HMS Bounty, and his Tahitian bride he named Peggy. Another great grandfather, Juan Lopez, was the alcalde (ranch foreman) for Nicholas Den on the Dos Pueblos Ranch. Ed’s mother’s family were French and Swiss. His DNA pretty much covered the globe but he was most proud of his Santa Barbara roots.
Ed attended Delores Elementary School, Catholic High School (pre-Bishop Garcia Diego High), and Loyola University in Los Angeles. He graduated there in 1957 with a BA in business. Many of those classmates remained friends his entire life.
He learned the tire business from his father, the owner of Santa Barbara Retreading Shop. He worked in his dad’s shop during summer vacations. After college he worked for a time at Bennett’s Music in Santa Barbara as a salesman. In 1961, Ed started working at Southern Counties Gas Company (later to become Southern California Gas Company). He started on the Distribution crews, then transferred to Customer Service and became a residential and, later, a commercial field representative. In 1985, he was promoted into the Marketing Department, where he remained until his retirement in 1993.
Ed has always had a concern for the environment and was very well versed on alternative sources of energy. Because of that, he started his own solar water heating business–Solen Enterprises. It was in operation for about 10 years.
Ed appeared in plays in high school, college, and local theater productions—including Alhecama Players up until the mid-1970’s. He was also the founder of R.O.M.E. (Residential Opportunities Made Equal) Investments—an organization formed in 1967 to provide open (integrated) housing in Santa Barbara.
After retiring, he was a volunteer counselor for 10 years with the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) run through the California Department on Aging. He helped seniors navigate the issues involving Medicare and health insurance. He enjoyed helping people and was tenacious in untangling complex billing issues and doing battle with insurance companies and medical facilities when necessary.
In 2004, he became part of a working group formed to save Goleta Beach Park from erosion and other environmental hazards. He was passionate about preserving the park for the approximately one million people that use the park yearly. In 2015, the Goleta Chamber gave him the honor of naming him Volunteer of the Year. He was proud of that honor and all that the Friends of Goleta Beach Park volunteers have accomplished over the years.
Ed was an avid fly fisherman. He traveled to Montana, Alaska, Chile, New Mexico, and anywhere he could cast a fly rod. He also enjoyed jazz music and played the keyboard. He especially liked Brazilian jazz.
Ed is survived by his wife, Sue Ramsey, of nearly 40 years; his daughter, Mary (Bill) Geck of Albuquerque; son, John (Mabel) de la Torre of Santa Barbara; granddaughter, Emma (Jordan) Drake; grandson, Will Geck, both of Albuquerque; his only great grandchild, Levi Drake; and his half-brother, Frank (Jennifer) de la Torre, Simi Valley. His former wife, Sharla Rodriguez, who has remained a friend, along with her husband, Gil, also survives him. Both were a tremendous help during these last difficult years. Lastly, he is survived by his beloved cat, Buster. His parents and his oldest son, Ed Jr. preceded Ed in death.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful and caring staff of Abundant Care assisted living. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to entrust Ed’s care to. God bless each one of you.
Final services will be private.