Did you know that Nellie Gail was a real person? In 1909, she married Lewis F. Moulton, a landowner whose largest holding, Moulton Ranch, encompassed the area’s present-day community of Nellie Gail Ranch.
It’s in the book, Images of America: Aliso Viejo by Bob Bunyan, published by Arcadia Publishing, and available in bookstores or through the Aliso Viejo Community Foundation Aug. 8.
Proceeds from the book will go to the Foundation’s College Scholarship Fund. When purchased through the Foundation, a greater percentage of the book’s price will be contributed to the scholarship fund.
Launched in 2011, this fund is part of a five-year program to annually award 10 scholarships, worth $5000. This year, the Foundation has awarded twelve $1000 scholarships to graduating seniors at Aliso Niguel High School.
“We’d like to award more, if we can do it,” said Bunyan, President of the Foundation.
Founded in 1988 by Mission Viejo Company, the original master developer of Aliso Viejo, the Foundation is a non-profit, public-benefit corporation created to provide and support academic, educational, cultural and physical fitness programs in Aliso Viejo.
Bunyan never imagined he’d “take on the Foundation. I ended up kind of inheriting this role,” he said.
Bunyan served as a sales and marketing executive for 30 years with the Mission Viejo Company and its successor, J.F. Shea Company.
“I was one of a handful of surviving managers from the sale of Mission Viejo Company to Shea,” Bunyan said. “I was responsible for winding down Mission Viejo Company’s operations and the Foundation was on my to-do list.”
In a “benign transfer,” Bunyan took over the Foundation in 2003. The other board members are Bill Woollett, the first city manager of Aliso Viejo and Irvine, and Eric Hauber, a former dean for Soka University and Owner/CEO of Eric Hauber Enterprises, LLC.
With proceeds from the Aliso Viejo Community Cup, the city’s annual golf tournament, and other events, such as the Evening with the Mayor and the Mayor’s State of the City, the Foundation has contributed close to $400,000 to youth-oriented and family programs in Aliso Viejo since 2003.
Bunyan’s involvement with the planning, development and marketing of Aliso Viejo helped to create his strong feelings for the city.
“I feel like Aliso Viejo is my child,” he said. “I was there when we acquired it in 1976, and when we put the first shovel in the ground, and I am privileged to be one of the few people with the original master developer still working on real estate development projects within Aliso Viejo.”
Bunyan’s fondness for the city isn’t the only reason he wrote the book.
“I love history and I like to write," he said. "Through the book I hoped to record some of the Moulton Ranch history, including the last 6,600-acre parcel that became Aliso Viejo, while many of the people involved with the early ranch and its development are still with us"
"I also wanted to record for future generations how this master-planned community originated, how it became a city and the contributions made by a handful of city pioneers who guided its development after Mission Viejo Company was sold and was incorporated.”
“This tenth year anniversary seemed like the appropriate time to release the book.”
Bunyan was inspired to start the Foundation’s Scholarship Fund when his son complained about the dramatic increase in tuition at his college. That reminded Bunyan of “the daunting financial challenge of higher education.”
For Bunyan “the real benefit in working on this scholarship program was talking to the applicants. I was just amazed at the talent and leadership qualities of these students. It has confirmed my faith in our young people.”
“After being in real estate development in Orange County since 1969, I’m very grateful for what this industry has provided for me, my family and many of my peers,” Bunyan said.
“Now it’s not about me anymore. It’s about helping others, especially our youth, and preserving our heritage, including the history of this great area.”