Ted Kalil: Our Friend by Bob Jacoby
The passing of our friend, Ted Kalil, initially left me at a loss for words. Ted was such a wonderful and unique individual, it is impossible to adequately describe what he meant to everyone. His contributions to the Desert Explorers were numerous. To begin with, he volunteered to lead trips almost from the moment he joined the club. He knew every nook and cranny of the Mojave Desert, but perhaps his specialty was the San Bernardino Mountains. We could count on Ted leading a trip every summer in the coolness of this mountain range that he loved. I don’t think anybody knew the San Bernardinos as well as Ted did.
Ted was also right there every year to lead one or more trips at the annual DE Rondy. I don’t think he attended a Rondy without leading a trip. We can now smile at his adventure in leading a Saturday trip at the 2015 Lone Pine Rondy. It was at that event that Mr. Kalil acquired the nickname “Turnaround Ted.” Ted led a trip to Mazourka Peak in the Inyo Mountains. This trail had been run several times before over the years with no problems. Unfortunately, the group of over 15 vehicles encountered an impassable washout on the trail. The only option was to back up on this ledge road. With Ted’s exceptional leadership this was accomplished safely even though it required a couple of hours to complete. When the group finally returned to Lone Pine that night the praise was high for Ted as a very outstanding leader.
Ted served the DE in other areas as well. He volunteered to serve as Treasurer about three years ago and did a tremendous job in improving and professionalizing the function. He was able to significantly update the process for payment of newsletter subscription fees, including the establishment of a PayPal function. Also, of great significance is the outstanding assistance he provided the Mojave River Valley Museum Board, particularly in the area of tax returns. Ted’s background in Finance and Banking was a tremendous resource for the DE to have available. He made key contributions to the club in this area.
Another attribute of Ted that was truly special was his sense of humor. I don’t know that I ever enjoyed being around someone as humorous as Ted. No matter how difficult the situation “Turnaround Ted” could find humor in it and have a smile on his face. Furthermore, Ted had a great value system. He always was looking out for his great family and other people in general. Selflessness, I think is the right word to use. Finally, it is also appropriate to mention Ted’s high level of intelligence. He was a Renaissance man who was knowledgeable on so many topics. I know I learned a lot from him. Also the quality of his education is evident when you realize his undergraduate work was at the Naval Academy.
It cannot be said enough that the passing of Ted Kalil is something that will be difficult to overcome. One of the ways we can all pay tribute to him is to try and emulate his tremendous leadership skills and his caring for other people. We all have learned so much from him.
Trip Leader Focus: Ted Kalil
Ted wrote this profile of himself as a feature in the Newsletter.
Sue, his lovely wife of 30 years, says she figures he stands about 5ft. 4 in. tall (she being an inch or so taller than he). Although he’s not a physical giant, he is an athlete in every sense of the word. Sue mentioned Ted’s love of the water. Would you believe he has been a surfer up until about 15 years ago? Back in his younger days, Ted worked as a life guard in the summer and on ski patrol in winter. He’s done a lot of water skiing, scuba diving and sailing too. He once sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Newport, California – as a crew member for Frank Morgan, who, as some of us over-the-hill folks will remember, was the wizard in the Wizard of Oz movie. Sue says that once when he broke his leg snow skiing, he wrapped his cast-encased broken leg in plastic so he could go water skiing!
Landside, Ted counts racquetball, tennis and bicycling among his many athletic talents. Ted has had a motorcycle since he was 18, but has recently forsaken his dirt bike and is now into "quading"; he enjoys ATV jamborees in northern California and Utah. Ted got his first Jeep in 1951 - a little four-banger pick-up that he drove up and down the beach looking for the perfect surfing spot. In the winter he used it to play in the snow and to go skiing. Today, he drives a Jeep Liberty and a Jeep Wrangler. In addition to the Jeeps and quad, other current toys include a 36 ft. motorhome (his), a 21 ft. motorhome (hers), a 35 ft. 5th wheel "patio hauler" a pick-up w/camper, and a small (towed by a motorcycle) camping trailer. It’s a good thing they have 2 and 1/2 acres for their menagerie.
Ted and Sue moved to Apple Valley about 18 years ago. It’s a bit far from the ocean, and although he still enjoys the water, Sue believes Ted has now added the desert and the mountains to his list of loves. Not only is he a Desert Explorer trip leader, he also serves as the Adopt-A-Trail program coordinator for the San Bernardino National Forest.
Sue says Ted has grown to love dogs too - which are her "hobby." They foster pooches in need of a temporary home, but frequently adopt them themselves and presently have five.
Ted hails from Brooklyn, NY (no detectable accent) which he left at the age of 14. He and his family bounced around the east coast for a short while and eventually came west to Long Beach after the War. Ted attended the Naval Academy, but had to drop out when he became ill. He also attended USC and Cal Poly, but never did graduate. The lack of a diploma, however, didn’t seem to hinder Ted’s career as a banker. He became a Crocker Bank (now Wells Fargo) branch manager and then the Southern California Senior Loan Supervisor. He married twice and divorced twice before meeting Sue who was working as a teller in the Santa Ana Branch.
Ted is the father of four children (two boys and two girls), grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of three.
Despite being a soft-spoken fellow, Ted was a Toastmaster when he and Sue lived in Costa Mesa. And another feather that can be added to his cap was his tenure as president of his Toastmaster’s chapter.
Ted’s all-time favorite vacation was when he and Sue took a two month caravan trip to Alaska with their fifth wheel. He enjoyed that trip so much, he wants to go again. Another memorable group trip was floating down the Mississippi with their rigs on three barges.
Ted’s favorite food is Lebanese, which is not so surprising when you learn that his last name, "Kalil" is Lebanese; and was once spelled, "Khalil." His grandfather immigrated from Lebanon, and was processed through Ellis Island. His mom’s half added Scotch-Irish to his heritage. It’s obvious Ted inherited some outstanding genes from those predecessors. Or is it just luck? Maybe a little of both? Whichever, Ted is just thankful to still be active. Sue says he is always doing something or going somewhere. Not many 81 year olds can claim as many accomplishments as he can, or be as active as he is.