At Home With Arlene & Richard Esgate
Posted on April 1, 2018
Gaze out the vast, floor-to-ceiling windows in Arlene and Richard Esgate’s apartment overlooking Harbor Drive and Market Street in downtown San Diego, and you quickly realize why their favorite room is the living-dining room. From here, they have incomparable views of the city below, the bustling port, and boats bobbing in San Diego Bay. At night, the view is magical, illuminated by twinkling city lights. “You never feel alone,” Arlene reflects. “It’s almost like Christmas with all the red and green lights. You can see planes taking off from Lindbergh Field and Navy ships sailing by.”
Richard, founder of engineering firm EsGil Corporation, had purchased a studio apartment in the same building years before. But after he met Arlene, a retired school teacher, there wasn’t enough closet space. So, the couple eventually designed and enlarged a three-bedroom, three-bath apartment with a master suite, state-of-the-art kitchen with a terrace for barbecuing, and a shared office that opens onto a second terrace. Every room has a city view. There are also clever storage areas, mirrored columns, and built-ins that maximize the space, enabling them to entertain as many as 80 people for fundraisers and receptions.
On Saturday, May 5, the Esgates co-chair “For Love of Country,” the 77th Stars & Stripes Celebration at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The evening benefits USO San Diego, which serves 130,000 military at the USO Neil Ash Airport Center at Lindbergh Field each year, as well as 230,000 local military and their families. The USO receives no government funding.
This year’s gala honors Jack McGrory, with entertainment by two-time Tony award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose father, a Tuskegee Airman, met his wife at a USO. Title sponsors are Hélène and George Gould, and co-chairs include Reena and Sam Horowitz, Jeanne Jones and Don Breitenberg, and Stephanie Brown.
The USO is a cause especially close to Arlene’s heart. “I love our country and military,” she says. “I come from a military family.” Her father was in the Air Force, as was her uncle, who met his wife at a USO. One of her sons, also in the Air Force, met his wife in the service. The couple was deployed to Europe, where two children were born on air bases in Germany and England. Another uncle joined the Marines, where he received two Purple Hearts.
The Esgates are also passionate about Balboa Park, where they co-chaired, with Jack McGrory, the 2015 Patrons of the Prado’s Masterpiece Gala to celebrate the park’s 100th anniversary. The following year, Arlene chaired the park’s “Full Steam Ahead” gala with co-chair Kristi Pieper. This year, the Esgates are on the gala committee for the San Diego Zoo’s annual RITZ (Rendezvous in the Zoo), with Arlene serving as “Queen of Cuisine.” The couple supports Mainly Mozart to bring music and culture to children on both sides of the border, and Childhelp, the national organization combatting child abuse and neglect. The Esgates also give to the San Diego Police Foundation, Salvation Army, Epilepsy Foundation, and Rady Children’s Hospital. Arlene was honored as a 2016 Woman of Dedication by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary for her volunteer work. Richard serves on the board of the Old Globe Theatre.
The Esgates have a blended family of six grown children and 14 grandchildren, a tribe that keeps them very busy. While the couple loves to travel, they especially delight in exploring their own backyard, walking to Little Italy to browse the Saturday farmer’s market, dining in the city’s many restaurants, hopping the ferry for a day in Coronado. They also enjoy cocktail parties and dinners with their neighbors. So, for the Esgates, there is truly no place like home — in their sophisticated aerie high above the city. usosandiego.org Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal