10 QUESTIONS: For Trenton Bonner, community service brings joy, friendship


Trenton Bonner founded Trenton Bonner Coastal Real Estate, La Jolla in April 2008 as an investment real estate company to provide opportunities to invest and or develop San Diego coastal properties. He began his career in commercial real estate in April 1977 in Dallas, Texas with Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate (now CBRE). Bonner was “Rookie of the Year“ in 1978 and tops in the office in 1986 when he was selected to be the new sales manager for the Coldwell Banker Commercial office in San Diego.

Bonner has been involved in civic and charitable organizations in La Jolla for more than 28 years — as a seven-year trustee on the La Jolla Town Council; a trustee on La Jolla Village Merchants Association; a past president of the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla; trustee and chair of the Veterans Honor Ceremony, Mt. Soledad Memorial Association; and as a member of La Jolla Presbyterian Church, he has served as chef for the Congregational Dinner as well as the July 4th barbecue.

Bonner was a Navy pilot (1969-1982); Boeing flight instructor (1975-1976); played basketball for Texas Tech University, where he graduated with a B.A. degree; was All State in Basketball at Graham High School (1959-1963) and top football player senior year — All West Texas.

What brought you to La Jolla?

I first came to the La Jolla area as a Navy pilot in fall 1971. We lived in Solana Beach and I was stationed at Naval Air Station North Island. I fell in love with La Jolla and the coastal area and made a decision that I would return some day. In 1986, I was hired as the sales manager at Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Downtown San Diego. We rented a home in La Jolla and enrolled our three children in La Jolla Schools.

What might you add, subtract

or improve in the area?

I would continue to improve the infrastructure and streets of La Jolla, the entrance (aka The Throat) into La Jolla, as well as the parks and beaches. There has been much improvement done in the past several years. I am a trustee of Mt. Soledad Memorial Association and on July 17 we purchased the Memorial from the U.S. government for almost $1.4 million. The Memorial includes the cross, the 3,700 Veteran plaques and walls, and of course, the ground that all of this sits on. This was a 25-year litigation process and I am very proud to be a part of this accomplishment. We want to continue to improve and install Veteran plaques on the walls.

Who or what inspires you?

There are many people that inspire me … locally it’s Chuck Norris, pastor Prince Chapel (AME) Church; Paul Cunningham, pastor La Jolla Presbyterian Church; Stan Beard, associate pastor La Jolla Presbyterian Church; and fellow Kiwanians Don Hodges, Wil Johnson and Moon Mullen. Moon was a former Navy pilot and a POW for seven years.

Oscar Knight was a great inspiration to me, too. He was a fellow Kiwanian who passed away several years ago as a result of Agent Orange. I was Oscar’s national campaign manager as he was elected to the board of trustees for Kiwanis International.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite Jesus, President John Adams, President Abraham Lincoln, General George Patton, President Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Oscar Knight and Moon Mullen.

What are your favorite movies of all time and what are you reading?

My favorite movies are “The Way We Were,” “Forrest Gump,” “Schindler’s List” and “Chasing Amy” because my stepdaughter, Joey Lauren Adams, is the lead actress in the film and was nominated for the Golden Globe Best Actress of the Year Award for her work in that film. Currently, I am reading “Killing Patton” by Bill O’Reilly.

What is it you most dislike?

That would be people who do not get involved in life. There is so much to do and so little time on this Earth. Everyone who is healthy can contribute.

What do you do for fun?

I really enjoy helping others and contributing to help others have a better life. Recently, Chuck Norris and I put on a concert and barbecue and raised money to help others. I’ve hiked most of the mountains in Southern California — and Mt. Whitney five times. I enjoy camping and skiing, and when I was younger, competitive basketball, having played in college and semi-pro.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

I think George Patton, Jr. once said something similar to “Either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way,” and that is a good start. However, my personal philosophy is slightly different, “Lead, also be willing to follow when appropriate, but always strive to help others.”

What would be your dream vacation?

My dream vacation (not my wonderful wife Karen’s, she would prefer Hawaii) is to always explore the high country of America — Yosemite, Yellowstone, the national parks …

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Food is my passion. I’m not a great cook, but a very good cook. My friend at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, Steve Vincent, is a real chef and one who gives me great counseling. I enjoy cooking for large groups. I try to always cook fresh and to be creative.

I’ve cooked the last four La Jolla Presbyterian Congregation Dinners (for 275 people) and the last four La Jolla Fourth of July barbecues Texas-style (450 people). In October, I’m going to have a food booth at the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival with barbecue and smoke beef brisket and pulled pork. My favorite foods are always Italian, Tex-Mex, seafood and Cajun.