Historical Society Program Salutes Ernie Marquez and Marquez Family History

Historical Society President Barbara Kohn introduced speaker Randy Young, who spoke about the Marquez family. On the screen is Ernie Marquez, whose legacy was honored at the meeting.

By PATRICK HEALY

Historical Society Board Member

The 2024 Pacific Palisades Historical Society Annual Meeting, held May 6 in Pierson Playhouse, was led by President Barbara Kohn, who welcomed special invited guests.

They included individuals who identify as Tongvans, the indigenous people of this area, and also members of the Marquez family, whose ancestors in 1839 received a grant from the Mexican government to the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, part of which became Pacific Palisades.

Historical Society Curator Randy Young then led a program honoring the Marquez Family Legacy, with special attention to the contributions of Angie Marquez Olivera, Rosemary Miano and Ernest “Ernie” Marquez, who passed away in January at age 99.

Randy also introduced Sharon Kilbride, Rosemary’s daughter, a cousin of Ernie, and herself a tireless community activist and champion of the family’s legacy. Sharon recalled growing up in Santa Monica Canyon, and noted that the roots of her ancestors go so deep, they lived under the flags of three nations—Spain, Mexico, USA—without ever leaving the canyon.

She shared a century’s worth of Ernie stories, from his childhood eagerness to attend nearby Canyon School to his work advocating for and protecting the legacy of Rancho Boca.

Sharon also revealed that this winter’s intense rains led to the collapse of an 18-ft. section of the adobe wall that was built around the historic Marquez family cemetery on San Lorenzo Street in 1926. Ernie, various family members and generous neighbors worked to ensure that the cemetery would be preserved, and donations towards that goal are appreciated. (Checks made payable to La Senora Research Institute-Cemetery Account can be mailed to Sharon Kilbride at 245 Entrada Dr., Santa Monica, CA 90402.)

After Sharon’s remarks, Randy presented a slide show featuring historic photographs of Rancho Boca and Marquez family members. Randy and Ernie shared a passion for locating and identifying such photos as they worked on their respective books documenting local history.

Ernie Marquez in his Navy uniform.

Randy marveled at the extraordinary collection Ernie compiled over his lifetime, before entrusting his photos to the safekeeping of the Huntington Library. Randy also gave credit to Ernie, more than anyone, for being the history enthusiast who “built” the Pacific Palisades “Hysterical” Society, as Marquez family members enjoyed calling it in jest.

After Randy’s presentation, Ernie’s eldest daughter Eileen revealed that her father will be laid to rest in the family cemetery. And that her brother Ernesto is at work with another artist in creating a cross to mark the gravesite, a task that Ernie had undertaken for all who had been laid to rest there but had never gotten around to his own. Eileen thanked all who attended and assured them that Ernie’s spirit is still with them. “He hovers over all of you now,” she said.

PPHS board members include Barbara Kohn (president), Donna Vaccarino (VP), Harris Smith (treasurer), Patrick Healy (secretary), Janet Brodie, Bill Bruns, Eric Dugdale, Shirley Haggstrom, Libby Motika, Anthea Raymond and Randy Young.

Visit the organization’s website: www.pacificpalisadeshistory.org.

Colleen McAndrews Wood was a Sparkplug Winner for helping to raise money to purchase the land where the Marquez cemetery is located on San Lorenzo. Ernie Marquez is next to Wood and Sharon Kilbride is driving the car for the Palisades 4th of July parade.

 

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