At Home With Deb & Les Cross
When Deb and Les Cross remodeled their Del Mar home, Les knew exactly what he wanted. “I want to feel like I’m walking into the lobby of the Grand Wailea when I come home from work,” he told Deb, both of whom love Hawaii. While their Rancho Del Mar Estates home, at 4,000 square feet, isn’t quite as large as the sprawling, 40-acre Maui resort, it has the same tropical, welcoming feel. At their entrance, sconces decorated with bronze pineapples, symbolic of Hawaiian hospitality, greet guests.
Les, Chairman of the Board of Alphatec Spine, a medical device maker, is the retired CEO of DJO Global Inc., a leading provider of orthopedic devices. In 2009, he was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Deb, a retired audiologist who had her own successful practice for many years, is President of The Country Friends, the 61-year-old nonprofit that raises funds for San Diego County-based charities with a special emphasis on women, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
The Crosses’ open living room, with its 20-foot ceiling, is designed in a luxurious tropical resort style, with the help of Innerspace Design’s Laura Wireman. A massive painting by Hawaiian artist LeoHone provided inspiration for the color palette of taro and palm tree green with touches of teal and golden rattan. The sofa, upholstered in a textured fabric by Kravet, is paired with two Tommy Bahama woven grass “Rum” beach chairs in a large-scale palm frond fabric, and an octagonal glass-and-rattan table. Personal touches include a player piano and ukuleles, whimsical metal sculptures of frogs, and a pillow imprinted with “Hawaiian Sol,” the name of their 60-foot sailboat. No mere pleasure craft, Les and a hardy crew of five, including son Andrew, sailed from San Diego to Hawaii in 2013, a two-week-long adventure in rough seas.
Curved glass doors lead to a lush backyard sanctuary, overlooking the Lomas Santa Fe Golf Course, with a pool, spa, putting green, and a large outdoor kitchen and entertainment space. Wireman is also designing an outdoor art casita for Les, who took up painting a few years ago after asking himself: “If you hadn’t been so busy, what roses would you have smelled along the way?” Largely self-taught, his many impressionist works include the striking “Rain Over Hawaii.” “A blindfold came off,” says Les of his newfound passion. “I see colors I’ve never seen before.” Deb’s photographs of flowers, trees, and lily pads often form the inspiration for his paintings.
Family and community are very important to this accomplished couple, who have three grown children: Lara-Lee, Sarah, and recent UCLA honors grad Andrew, and three grandchildren. They chose their home because of the close-knit neighborhood where Deb says “everyone looks out for everyone else’s kids.” Adds Les, “When the kids were little, it really was a village. Your kids wandered safely from home to home. Every kid learned to ride a bike in the street. We put Band-Aids on kids from all over the neighborhood. We’ve had a few ‘hedge wars’ but common sense always prevails.”
They also appreciate the wealth of leisure opportunities in the area, from golfing at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club to watching the races at Del Mar. The Crosses are longtime members of the Turf Club, and love to dine close to home at Market Restaurant + Bar and Jake’s in Del Mar, Pacific Coast Grill in Cardiff, and Rancho Santa Fe’s Mille Fleurs.
Much of their time is spent volunteering. Les now serves on the Midway Foundation Board, dedicated to preserving the USS Midway Museum and providing annual grants for veterans’ causes. The Crosses are also heading up The Country Friends Legacy Campaign with the goal of raising $1 million in order to serve even more human care agencies throughout San Diego County. They both served on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, where Les was twice chair and “Man of the Year,” while Deb co-chaired the clubs’ gala “Tropical Nights.”
The couple also supports the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which, since 1962, has provided more than 33,000 scholarships nationwide to the children of Marines and Navy corpsmen. When he was CEO of DJO, Les started a golf tournament that has since raised more than $1 million to educate children whose parents have been killed or injured in the War on Terror, a commitment continued by current CEO Michael Mogul. The foundation recently recognized DJO with its Semper Fidelis award for the company’s longtime support for the children of the fallen. “I thought it was important for these children to know that their parents’ service is not only valued, but that it will not be forgotten by the community,” says Les. “We honor their sacrifice by providing for their children’s future.” Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal