Gregg Symonds – Old Agoura Icon – Dies May 2012Apr 27, 2019
Gregg and his wife Dee, built their custom Old Agoura home in the 1980’s AFTER their kids were grown and on their own. Gregg had an amazing life.
Gregg wrote the following after he had started to paint art which became a very important part of his life, it was a great joy for him to be able to put the people in his life into a painting.
88 YEARS OF CHALLENGE
For many years my son- in-law, Jim Daly, an artist well known for his painting of children of the 1920’s and 1930’s, was after me to try painting, I could not tell you why he thought I could paint. In high school in the 1930’s I had taken art and stage art, it was required in those days, along with reading, writing and arithmetic but afterwards I never gave art another thought. Oh, I liked to look at “good” art through the years but never considered trying to paint anything, especially portraits. At his urging, sometime in 2000 I started to paint in acrylics, a few landscapes and flowers in my yard, nothing of any consequence. In March of 2005 Jim sent me a book, ” Portraits from Life in 29 steps” by John
So what happened in the first of 88 years?
Born Robert Gregg Symonds on August the 24,1921, at home 1310 No. Broadway, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A church is now at that location; I’ve gone back and looked. My father was Robert Clinton Symonds and my mother Gladys Elizabeth Gregg Symonds. My father was a Realtor all his life, we moved a lot, California, Florida, back to California. Santa Monica, Burbank, Glendale, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Studio City to name a few. We drove over the wood highway thru the sand dunes on the first trip to California, over paved two lane roads (no interstates in those days) to other places and back thru the Panama Canal on the H M Alexander on the return to California in 1928.
I went to schools in all these cities but managed to finish high school, 7th thru
So the Challenge goes on. In late 1943 I was drafted into the USNAVY 13th NCB Battalion. In Hawaii we connected the two small airports in Honolulu which is now the main airport in the Hawaiian islands, From there we went to Tinian and built the 4 airstrips for the B29’s which flew to Japan and back bombing the cities we read about in history. We went to Okinawa building the airstrips and hospitals for the invasion when the white airplane flew over on it’s way to the Philippines that ended WW2 on that day in1945. Discharged in December 1945, I returned to work at Western airlines. 1946 I took up Flying, I hold a commercial, instrument and multi engine pilots license and owned a V-Tail Bonanza, flying all over the USA for work and pleasure. In 1955 I left Western airlines and went to work for my father building stores, shops and industrial buildings At the age of 48 I took up motorcycle racing with my son David in the desert earning number 9 in district 37 having become a member of the Checker motorcycle club before breaking a wrist and moved into off-road cars at age 55 and joined the Checker car club becoming president in 1985. Off-road racing is a family sport, I drove with my son and 2 daughters in many races in the California, Nevada and Baja Mexico, while Davida handled the pit radios as “Checker Main” that cared for us in our races. I was sponsored by Toyota and Yokohoma tires for 5 years but lost out when I turned 70. From there I went to circle track racing NASCAR and MSRA pro 4 class, earning number 2 at the end of the 1994 season. Turning 80 after 35 years of racing I gave up racing and took up Golf. Oh, Tiger does not have to worry about my Golf game, but it’s fun and the challenge goes on.
LIFE is a challenge. So at 84 I took up Portrait Painting.. In September/ October
BELIEVE ME NO ONE IS MORE SURPRISED THAN I AM THAT MY PAINTINGS HAVE COME OUT SO WELL. One never knows what one can do if one will only try.
THINK YOUNG AND BE WILLING TO TRY, SURPRISE YOURSELF. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR THE NEXT CHALLENGE.