Civic Activist Led Effort to Preserve Lagoon

In an Oceanside community that has been home to five generations of his family, David Rorick Jr. played the dual role of civic activist and environmental watchdog.

He liked nothing better than tracking and identifying rare birds, which he did as a board member of the National Audubon Society. “He would have us out at the crack of dawn on a bird-watching outing,” said his son, David. “And he had a beautiful library on the lore of birds and nature writing.”

Mr. Rorick, who dedicated many years to the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center and preserving Buena Vista Lagoon, died Friday at the same Oceanside home in which he was born. He was 88.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Sally Rorick Orlando.

During a business career that included ownership of a Buick dealership and the presidency of Oceanside Federal Savings and Loan, Mr. Rorick took up causes ranging from the arts to youths.

In a lushly landscaped garden featuring palms, plumerias and magnolias, he held fund-raising dinners for the Oceanside Museum of Art. He was a founder and former chairman of the North County Concert Association and helped found the Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside 50 years ago.

As an environmentalist, Mr. Rorick was instrumental in opening the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center in Oceanside in September 1988. He spearheaded efforts to preserve Buena Vista Lagoon, a 200-acre wildlife preserve, as a founding member of the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation.

“Dave was one of the reasons why a lot of things were done right in Oceanside,” said John Steiger, a longtime friend and president of the Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation.

“He had the time and wherewithal to spend on community causes and he did.”

In seeing Oceanside grow from a town of a little more than 1,000 residents to more than 160,000, Mr. Rorick encouraged fellow residents to prepare for growth as a member of the city planning commission.

“He had a reassuring manner, urging us not to be afraid of growth,” said Steiger, a fellow planning commissioner. “To me, he was like a mentor. He was gracious and smart.”

Mr. Rorick traced his roots in Oceanside to his father, David Rorick Sr., who moved to the coastal city from Kansas in the early 1900s. His father bought two lots a couple of blocks from the beach for $500 each on South Pacific Street.

Rorick Sr. built one of the two Craftsman-style homes for his father and lived in the other one, where David Rorick Jr. was born. Both homes remained in the family over the years, with David Rorick Jr.’s grandchildren occupying one of them.

Mr. Rorick graduated from Oceanside High School and Pomona College, where he earned a degree in business. After joining a partner in operating a farm-equipment company, he branched out on his own in 1940 by opening Rorick Buick.

His affiliation with Oceanside Federal Savings and Loan began in 1938 when he was elected a director.

He also was active over the years as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority and the San Diego Natural History Museum. He was a former president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of Oceanside Library.

In 1999, he was honored for his support of the arts at the sixth annual La Nuit des Beaux Arts gala benefiting the Oceanside Museum of Art.

Survivors include daughter Sally Rorick Orlando of Oceanside; sons, David Rorick of San Francisco and Nicholas Rorick of Norristown, Pa.; and seven grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for noon Saturday at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Oceanside. Donations are suggested to the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center, P.O. Box 480, Oceanside, CA 92049, or to Elizabeth Hospice.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, November 13, 2002

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