CARLSBAD — Carlsbad resident Joan Kindle has served as a volunteer curator for nearly 30 years at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, and for that she has been honored by the California Parks and Recreation Society.
Kindle and her late husband, Alan Kindle, discovered the ranch when they moved to Carlsbad in 1985. Originally known as “Los Quiotes,” the rancho was established in 1937 by Leo Carrillo, an actor best known for his role as Pancho in the 1950s television series “The Cisco Kid.” Carrilo died in 1961, and the core remnant of the ranch was owned by the city. The initial plan was to restore the ranch’s old structures.
The Kindles took interest in learning about the former Hollywood actor and the role of the ranch in Carlsbad’s history. Former Mayor Bud Lewis asked Kindle to become the park’s volunteer curator, which she agreed to accept.
“I said to myself ‘don’t tell the mayor you don’t even know what a curator is,’ ” Kindle recalls. “And I didn’t want to disappoint him so I thought if I could figure out a way to do it, I’ll do it.”
Kindle became an advocate for the park and its restoration, and was offered artifacts that reflected Carrillo’s life.
The Kindles established the Carrillo Ranch Trust Fund to receive monetary donations and memorabilia displayed at the ranch.
Kindle also teamed up with city staffers to research, prepare and submit an application to list Leo Carrillo Ranch on the National Register of Historic Places. The status was granted in 1992.
“I’ve spent 29 years as a citizen of Carlsbad and just feel privileged to be able to walk beside city staff and city leaders as they encourage their citizens to help them with projects like this,” Kindle said. “You feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when they invite you in the door and you do something like this.”
The preservation effort peaked in 2003 when Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park opened to the public.
The California Parks and Recreation Society District 12, which includes San Diego and Imperial counties, recognized Kindle for her 30-year contribution to preserving the ranch on March 26.
Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at 6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Lane. For information, call (760) 476-1042.
Pictured, from left, are Chris Hazeltine, city of Carlsbad Parks and Recreation director; Joan Kindle; and Mick Calarco, city of Carlsbad Parks and Recreation special projects manager.