It Must Have Been the Roses


The city gets a huge grant to care for the gardens in Balboa Park.

The estate of Thomas and Lilyan Frank donated $1.25 million to the city to care for the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden and a cactus garden sited close by -- both of which are across Park Boulevard from the Fleet and Museum of Natural History museums -- as well as the Japanese Friendship Garden. The rose garden was recognized for excellence recently by the World Federation of Rose Societies.

The gift was formally announced at a ceremony Thursday that featured comments by Mayor Jerry Sanders, as well as Councilman Todd Gloria, and Marilyn Mahoney and Larry Wright, who were relatives of the Franks.

Dick Streeper was very excited by the gift.

"It's a real boost to this garden," Streeper said. "I love roses, and in the mid-60s, I started asking people, 'Why don't we have a rose garden in Balboa Park?' And people said, 'Well, we've tried that and it doesn't work.' A year later, I was elected president of the San Diego Rose Society, and the first thing I did was present a resolution to the membership of the rose society that we establish a committee to build a rose garden in Balboa Park, presented it to the city council, and from there on it was a lot of tough slogging to get it built, but we dedicated it in 1965."

Streeper said the garden has been recognized as one of the 24 best in the world.

Thomas Frank, who died in 2007, and his wife, who passed away in 1994, were Point Loma residents who cherished the beauty of the park's gardens. 

Eric S. Page reports about all things San Diego, but he draws the line at cat stories. You can follow his updates at or send him a story idea.

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