An interview with one of GVCA’s first presidents Clay Perkins

Tell us about your background
I grew up in Austin, Texas, and received my Master’s degree in Physics in 1958 from the University of Texas Austin. I then moved to San Diego and married that same year. We had two children while living in Green Valley and now have three grandchildren. I am 80 years old.

How did you come to settle down in Poway?
In the early 1960s Poway was wide open and connected to San Diego only by a two-lane road (really). A great place for the money, where we could buy a lot and design our own house. Our biggest personal event in Green Valley was a tragedy: the great brush  re of 1967. Our home and about twenty other Poway houses were burned to the ground and many others damaged in a  re that started ten miles away in Ramona. We lived there another two years while building a new home in San Diego. We moved for business reasons, not because we wanted to leave beautiful Green Valley.

How and why did you become involved with the GVCA?
A budding interest in civic affairs, coupled with some local problems: under-grounding utilities, white striping the roads, lack of neighborly cohesiveness, for example. Back then, there were three developments, each not really wanting to cooperate with the others. They were (in decreasing size) the original Green Valley, Valle Verde to the west, and the much smaller Del Norte to the southwest. We had an association officially named “The Green Valley / Valle Verde Civic Association.” When I appeared before County Board of Supervisors, I always got a laugh with that name. One Supervisor once said that we had the longest name of any organization appearing before them.

What were the GVCA’s greatest accomplishments during your tenure?
It sounds minor, but the most important was changing our name. I started a quiet campaign pointing out the awkwardness of our redundant name, and how it made us look unprofessional. I met with the Valle Verde residents in particular and sympathized with their love of the beautiful Spanish name. This was a really big issue; we had the biggest meeting ever. I had organized speakers on both sides, but carefully hid my own feelings. And I had found a 19th Century map showing Green Valley creek originating in our valley; that helped a lot. The result was a majority vote among the Valle Verde folks for the name Green Valley, and thus few hard feelings. After I was thrown into the pool, I discovered that most people thought that I had opposed the change!

I was president for two or three years during which we formed a public utility district to sell bonds to fund the under grounding; and we white striped the roads, and we white striped the roads. No, that is not a typo. The county refused to stripe the roads because of our light traf c, so we paid the county to do so. That took some pushing. Then just weeks later they slurry-sealed the roads, covering up the lines. Boy, was I mad. After a lot of yelling and finger pointing, the county repainted the lines without charge. That we painted them, and then we painted them again, became a standing joke.

What awards have you won?
Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas. Election to honorary membership in the 509th Composite Group (the WWII atomic bombers). As such I attend annual reunions with the men who ended WWII. Although now deceased, the last three crew members of the Enola Gay were personal friends of mine. Also I was given a plaque of appreciation from the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (the WWII POW organization for the Paci c Theater). My wife Dorothy and I won the 2014 Los Alamos [NM] History Award.

What you would like to see happen in the future of our community?
Well, selfishly I would like to see it stay wide open, so I can gaze at and hike on other peo- ple’s land. Oh, wait that was 54 years ago; I’m too late. Heck, I don’t know anything about Poway today. Well, when I came to see my grandsons play football and lacrosse at Poway High, I greatly admired how the trees had grown. But I can hope that the future of Poway will bring happiness, prosperity, and cooperation.

I am delighted that GVCA has grown to what looks at a glance to be 20 times bigger than it was back then – and that you have not changed the name.