Decking the halls for the holidays takes on a whole new dimension at Dee and Jon Ammon’s Tuscan-style estate along a winding country road in Alpine. The philanthropic couple — named “Nice Guy of the Year” in 2021 — invited me to their festive home where we talked about holiday plans and causes close to their hearts, including The Salvation Army, where Dee is president of the women’s auxiliary, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, and Vista Hill.
Dee goes all out for Christmas, decorating their house with ornaments lovingly collected and catalogued over the decades. (She even has a spreadsheet to help her find them, neatly stowed off-season in carefully marked containers in the garage.) The massive tree in the foyer is festooned with shiny Christopher Radko ornaments as carved wooden nutcrackers stand guard near the winding staircase. A large collection of snow globes graces tables in the formal living room, just waiting for grandchildren to stare at them wide-eyed and then give them a shake to watch the swirling “snow.” Near the entryway, a wooden butler is at the ready, bearing a tray of drinks and nibbles, and no doubt, cookies for Santa when Christmas Eve is nigh.
Dee has also set an elegant table in the dining room in a palette of red, green, and gold, accented with holiday botanicals. She decorated a smaller tree with tinkly silver bells. Upstairs, a traditional “family tree” displays handmade ornaments and mementos from Christmases past. The cheery kitchen, also dressed up for celebrations to come, is Dee’s favorite room because it’s big enough to accommodate a crowd, and she loves to cook and bake. For dessert this Christmas? A peppermint drum cake and a rum cake. Of course, she tempts me and the Ranch & Coast crew with plates of homemade treats, and we are happy to oblige.
Dee and Jon met at a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in 1996 and later exchanged vows at a wedding ceremony in their home. They now have a blended family of four grown children and seven grandchildren, whose photos they proudly display. The Ammons are world travelers and avid golfers, playing twice a week at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club where Dee has had two holes in one, and Jon, three.
Jon is the longtime owner of Tri-County Insulation Co. in El Cajon, providing mechanical insulation systems for large commercial projects including San Diego Airport’s Terminal 2, Jacobs Medical Center, and the Mormon Temple. He learned the business from the ground up during the day while also working nights as a grocery store manager. Eventually, he bought the company from his parents and hopes his two sons will take the reins one day.
Jon became involved in charity work in 1988, joining Jackalope Inc., which provides help for needy families in the East County. In 1994, he joined Nice Guys of San Diego, which serves individuals and families in San Diego County who have fallen on hard times. Jon was a board member in 1996 and president in 2000. Last year, the Ammons were named “Nice Guy of the Year” for their decades-long commitment to community service. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria proclaimed October 23, 2021 “Dee and Jon Ammon Day” in their honor. Jon notes that he and his wife are the first married couple to receive the honor — the first “couple” were radio legends Hudson and Bauer, the former morning drive team at radio station KFMB-AM (760).
The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary honored Dee as a Woman of Dedication in 2017 for her community service, which includes serving on boards for the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Foundation, Friends of Vista Hill, and Patrons of the Prado, and chairing numerous fundraisers for SAWA, City Ballet of San Diego, and Vista Hill, as well as the annual Sharp HospiceCare Benefit Regatta.
She is especially excited about plans for the $58 million Sharp Grossmont Hospital Neurosciences Center, a state-of-the art facility for those fighting brain and spinal diseases. Together with Dr. Perry Mansfield, she is co-chairing the campaign to build the center. “This will be the first hospital in San Diego dedicated to caring for patients who need advanced neurosurgical, neurological, comprehensive spine care in a single center of excellence,” says Dee. “This is very important to me and important to San Diego County.”
This Christmas season will find the Ammons ringing bells for The Salvation Army, feeding the hungry, gathering with family and friends — and spreading lots of holiday cheer.