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Richard Pilgrim, An Icon in the Imperial Beach Community, Celebrates Being 80 Years Young Today!

Dec 23, 2017 01:12AM ● Published by Paul Spear

Gallery: Happy Birthday! [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

Richard "Dick" Pilgrim, An Icon in the Imperial Beach Community, Celebrates Being 80 years Young Today. Dick and his wife have lived in Imperial Beach for 30 years now and he has been busy volunteering around town and the San Diego area since retiring about 12 years ago. 

If you've spent any time out and about in Imperial Beach, there is a very good change you've run across Dick Pilgrim and his charming smile and cheerful, carefree personality. You may have run across him while he's volunteering at the Tijuana Estuary, or while he was working as a volunteer sheriff for Imperial Beach. Dick volunteers doing lots of work that's involved with helping others in the community and whatever it is he is doing, he always does it with that cheerful smile of his. He also volunteers for the San Diego Blood Bank and helps seniors with their taxes.

Dick has volunteered for over 12 years at the Tijuana Estuary. One of the programs Dick helps with is overseeing the stewardship program that meets every Friday. They will do things such as planting habitat, removing weeds, to training new volunteers. Dick also is a Community Ambassador for the Estuary.  

Dick has been a fixture in Imperial Beach since he and his wife moved here in 1987. With their 4 daughters grown up and their way of life changing they were looking to make some changes in their lives. They came down to see the Sandcastle Festival and couldn't find any beach parking and ended up parking in front of a house on 5th Street that happened to be for sale and they ended up buying it and calling it home. A few days later he ended up getting a job offered at UCSD and had a much longer drive to work but has no regrets. 

But before Dick ever got to Imperial Beach, he spent his childhood growing up in the Midwest. Dick grew up in Oklahoma and lived there until 1962. On a trip to California to visit a friend, the friend sent him to interview for a job with the San Diego School District. Much to his surprise he got offered the job and returned home to Oklahoma in time to inform his wife. They had to pack up almost immediately and they made a road trip with their 18-month-old daughter cross country to San Diego. Dick started teaching for the San Diego School District and he raised his family living uphill from Qualcomm Stadium. 

After retiring from UCSD and a career teaching mathematics, Dick was looking to for ways to keep busy and give back to the community. One day he was looking out his back door at his backyard on 5th Street and saw the it didn't need to be mowed but figured they could use some volunteers. You see, he has the Tijuana Estuary as his backyard. One day he decided to just walk into the office and ran into Park Ranger Debbie Good and although the Estuary Building was new and had just gotten going and had nothing special set up for volunteers, Debbie created a position for him and gave him 3 hours every Friday. Dick has become a fixture there and enjoys volunteering.  

Said Debbie Good, a Park Ranger at the Tijuana Estuary, one of the many people Dick helps there, "Dick is always a positive influence. Whatever project he is working on he always does it with a smile. It's always fun being at work when Dick is there." 

Debbie's comments about Dick and his attitude are almost repeated verbatim with anyone you speak with who has had the pleasure of meeting him. 

So today, a very Happy 80th Birthday to Richard "Dick Pilgrim from all his friends which include us here at Dig Imperial Beach!

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