2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Balboa Park.
Fondly known as the Jewel of San Diego, this global destination for arts and culture welcomes more than 28 million visitors annually and is a perfect representation of the longstanding generosity of San Diegans.
From the early contributions by Kate Sessions, to support from family philanthropists such as the Fleets, Balboa Park is a vibrant destination for locals and tourists alike thanks in large part to San Diego donors.
One unsung hero you may not have heard of is V. Susan Gephardt.
Living to the age of 100, Susan spent most of her life living in San Diego, enjoying the many museums and attractions throughout Balboa Park. A frequent visitor, she knew firsthand how important the park was to those who lived in the region.
Before she passed away, Susan established a legacy fund at The San Diego Foundation with the specific purpose of supporting the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, one of the most popular attractions in the park. Susan’s hope was that through her philanthropy, countless others could enjoy the beauty of Balboa Park just as she did.
Today, through the V. Susan Gephardt Endowment Fund at The San Diego Foundation, her legacy lives on as funding enhances and enriches the visitor experience in Balboa Park and the iconic Rose Garden.
The stunning Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden displays approximately 1,600 roses of more than 130 varieties on a three-acre site full of fragrance, color and beauty. The garden is in bloom from March through December, with the roses usually at their peak in April and May.
Thanks to recent grantmaking, Susan’s legacy fund will help significantly raise the stature of the beloved San Diego garden. Through an initiative spearheaded by the Balboa Park Conservancy, funding will support enhancements to the area, such as rose planer improvements and new entrance pergolas, and the creation of a docent program in the garden.
When complete, Susan’s visionary act of kindness will have helped elevate the Rose Garden visitor experience to meet world-class public garden and horticulture standards.
Next time you visit Balboa Park and the Rose Garden, remember generous philanthropists like Susan who are leaving a legacy for current and future generations of San Diegans to enjoy.