Palms planted at park

Ex-dentist provides donation

One man’s dream to memorialize his wife was realized when 30, 10-foot Mexican fan palm trees were planted recently in La Jolla’s Scripps Park.

Last July, 94-year-old retired La Jolla dentist Dr. George Gerrodette offered the Jolla Town Council $25,000 for a specific project at La Jolla’s centerpiece Scripps Park. The advisory body voted to use that money for park beautification.

Gerrodette’s late wife, Billie, had loved the tall Scripps Park palms, and during her lifetime had encouraged him to “do something to make sure the tall palms never go away.”

Now they won’t, thanks to his tree-restoration donation.

Councilwoman Sherri Lighter presided over the tree-planting ceremony at Scripps Park to honor the private citizens whose donations made the planting possible. Joining her were city forester Drew Potocki, along with Gerrodette, Jack Holzman, Betty-Joe Peterson and Robert and Ann Dynes of UCSD fame.

“Dr. George Gerrodette and his wife, Billee, came up with the plan to plant new trees alongside the old ones so that a relatively mature tree will be in place when an older one dies off,” Lightner said. “The Gerrodettes have helped to preserve these palm trees as an enduring legacy for all La Jolla residents and visitors.

Sadly, Billee passed away before their vision could be realized, but I’m sure she would be proud to know that she has contributed to an enduring legacy.”

Regional city park arborist Mike Marika said the 50 or so existing Mexican fan palms in Scripps Park are doing fairly well.

“However they are getting up in age, having been planted back in 1927.” he noted. “We estimate they have 15, 20 years of life. Hopefully, these new ones will be there to continue to provide that beautiful scenery that we see daily.”

Marika added Mexican fan palms are easy to take care of and can grow to impressive heights. “The record is 121 feet tall,” he said. “The slang for them is sky dusters.”