W. Virgil Opfer: Biography

W. Virgil Opfer (June 2007)

Virgil Opfer, S.E.C.It’s been said that the most valuable compliments are those that come from one’s peers. Virgil Opfer, a Past President of the Society of Exchange Counselors (2004), is certainly well regarded in many circles. Within the commercial real estate brokerage community, and among educators, S.E.C. members, and his fellow G5 investment partners, Virgil is highly respected. Throughout his working life, whether as an aerospace engineer and designer, a real estate broker, or in his current career as an entrepreneur, Virgil has been known for his integrity and dedication to doing the right and honorable thing. His work is characterized by his vision of process and result, and the careful logic he brings to all his endeavors. His high standards of excellence, along with his warm and affable manner, and legendary generosity have made Virgil a man of standing among his peers.

Opal’s memories

When Virgil’s mother, Opal, lost her larynx to cancer late in her life, Virgil gave her a word processor for her birthday to replace the troublesome old typewriter she had been using. She used his gift to write a series of vignettes of family origins and early adventures. Early in their married life, Opal Fowler and Waldo Opfer, like their German immigrant parents, left their Kansas home and set out on their own adventure to the West, hoping to find work picking fruit in Salinas, California. Among several hundred pages of family stories, Opal included her memories of one particularly important event on the journey.

Heading west by rail, the young couple found themselves in Littleton, Colorado, in the late fall of 1936. Waldo had found work as a railroad foreman in charge of a crew that built loading corrals and holding pens adjoining the tracks. The crew moved from one small community to the next, living in two boxcars refitted with somewhat primitive living quarters. The guys in the crew had the boxcar fitted with bunks, and Waldo and Opal had their quarters in the other boxcar, which also had some kitchen equipment and a large table for meals. Years later, when Opal thought that her son Virgil, then aged fifty, was “old” enough, she told him the story of his conception. Wanting to create a nicer setting for his wife and finding no place to stay, Waldo discovered a small “cave” outside of town. The cave had a false front to give the appearance of a cabin, but it really was a cave carved in the side of a hill at the site of a natural spring. It came with running water. The spring made a small pool in the cave, and then trickled under the door and down the hill. Waldo built a fire for a comfortable and romantic night’s rest. Here, a blushing Opal says Virgil was conceived; not immaculate, but certainly creative.

Moving west again in 1937, Opal and Waldo were in Fresno when their first child, Virgil, was born on July 30. A second son, Gerald, arrived eighteen months later, and their youngest child, Marilyn Sue, followed eighteen months after that. Within a few years, the family moved on to San Diego, enticed by the high wages air industry workers received during World War II. At war’s end, they remained in San Diego where Waldo worked, first as a machinist and then as a foreman at Ryan Aeronautical Company, an aerospace manufacturer/contractor.

Waldo and Opal’s fascination with gemstones led them to open a rock hound business. The parents’ love of finding, cutting, and selling semi-precious stones involved their children — Virgil, Gerald, and younger sister Marilyn Sue — in visits to Rock Hound shows and forays in the family jeep to remote areas in search of suitable gemstones. After a day of walking along a dry riverbed picking up beautiful agates, recalls Virgil with a grin, to lighten his load, he kept reaching back into his pack, removing stones during the long trudge back to the vehicle. When they arrived at the Jeep, his dad was upset that so many of the semi-precious stones had been left behind.

Education, Career, and Family

Virgil knew from the young age of five that he wanted to be an artist. By the end of high school, he had doubts that he was creative enough to be an original artist, but was still interested in a career in an art-related field. His love of drawing and math drew him toward architecture. With three children only three years apart in age, finding a school the family could afford was a problem. Although tuition at UCLA was affordable, the cost of living away from home wasn’t, and without knowing where it would lead, Virgil started a general education course at San Diego State University. After one semester, he needed to take time out to earn some money, and in 1955, he started an apprenticeship in the Engineering Department at Ryan Aeronautical, where his father worked as foreman in production.

Compared to his previous job at a car body shop taping, sanding, and painting cars in hot confined indoor quarters or outside in the elements, all for pay of 75 cents an hour, Virgil thought his office job was heaven. He could use his creative thinking, artistic talents, and flair for design. He also could apply the mathematics that he enjoyed. In addition to the creature comfort of an office setting, he earned an impressive $1.25 per hour. An early and important life lesson learned on the job was that financial rewards were greater for work that used the mind than for work that required physical labor.

Virgil celebrated his new affluence by treating himself to a brand-spanking new 1956 red MGA sports car, which he recalls felt “pretty cool.” At the same time, the young woman in his life, Sharon Ruggles, was becoming more than just another date. The two had first met a few years earlier in high school, and as young adults had renewed their acquaintance in their church. When Sharon looked at Virgil, she saw more than an office professional with a fancy roadster. They began dating in 1956, but this was interrupted when Sharon, on a scholastic scholarship, spent the 1957–1958 school year at North Central College in Naperville, IL. The long separation was difficult. Shortly after her return, they got engaged and were married in 1959. Virgil and Sharon went up to Los Angeles for the wedding since their pastor had recently been transferred to a new church there. Besides the normal tension of any wedding day, Sharon’s parents got lost on the way to the Church and the ceremony was postponed for over an hour.

Virgil relates that they never rented property during their entire marriage. Taking $3,000 of Sharon’s savings from her job at the telephone company, they bought a very expensive $15,000 home when they married. Four years later, they sold this house for $20,000, and thought they had made a killing!

Virgil enjoyed his career at Ryan (later Teledyne Ryan) for twenty years, remaining there until 1975. After his first two years there, his supervisor told him that they liked his work but, despite promotions and raises, he couldn’t go much further without an engineering degree. Taking his supervisor’s advice, Virgil enrolled for night courses at the university, but after several semesters of general education classes, he came to an impasse. The engineering courses he needed were offered only as day classes. When presented with the timing issue, his sympathetic boss gave him time off during the day, on condition that by creating his own schedule, he put in his forty-hour workweek. Virgil often found himself starting his day at six a.m. and finishing at midnight, so that he could in get the engineering courses, the travel time, and required work hours. He still found time to be with his family, albeit less than he wanted. Starting in 1959, he persisted and completed twenty semesters, making the dean’s list for six semesters and recording a perfect 4.0 grade point average during his senior year. Virgil graduated as the Engineering Department’s Senior of the Year in 1970 and was elected to the Tau Beta engineering honor society.

By then, fifteen years out of high school, Virgil says he was a lot older than his fellow students and took on the role of “a big brother” and mentor to many of them. When he heard some students complain that they would never remember some subject matter for their job in “the real world,” Virgil consoled them by reminding them that much of the course work wouldn’t apply in the workforce, and that the real world was like an open book exam where you could consult reference items and other engineers. After gaining his BS Engineering, Virgil transferred to Business, completing all MBA course work, with a specialty in Real Estate in 1975, a full twenty years after his first semester at State.

Virgil takes pride in becoming an Advanced Design Senior Engineer for Ryan, the highest position in the company short of management. He worked with a small, elite design group. While he feels that during his twenty years at Ryan, he really had ten years’ experience twice, he still considers his role in the elite design group to be the best job in the company. He flourished when given a Request-For-Proposal from the military. With nothing to work with except a concept, certain parameters, and a time limit, Virgil proved to be very good at “assembling things in a way that was attractive.” He not only coordinated the efforts of aerodynamics, propulsion, and electronics, he worked with management, engineers, and other designers to bring all the pieces together. In the same way an architect creates a special-purpose building to meet the needs of a client, Virgil created drawings of aircraft, manned and unmanned, that incorporated the needs of the military. The design started around the propulsion system, usually a turbojet engine, then a fuselage that needed to house all of the other components required to fulfill a specific mission. He had a unique talent for pulling everything together in a concise and attractive configuration. Although politics or sheer competition often frustrated Ryan’s proposal efforts, Virgil, working with the Advanced Design team, produced technical designs equal to or better than those of larger aerospace manufacturers, and for the same or lower cost. “More often than not,” he says, they didn’t get the contract, but the military always gave Ryan high marks for its designs.

Vertical takeoff aircraft, unmanned target vehicles, cruise missiles, and high-altitude reconnaissance drones are some examples of projects developed by the Ryan Advanced Design team. Because of the type of leading-edge work conducted by this group, Virgil helped develop new ideas and he holds four U.S. patents in his name. One design patent, U.S. Patent No. D244265, issued on May 10, 1977, is for an aircraft configuration that is designed to minimize radar detection and is strikingly similar to today’s stealth fighters. Just for fun, I went to Google and found the U.S. patent office, then searched for Virgil Opfer and found his patents. I’m not sure I understand the patents, but they’re impressive, nevertheless.

Virgil stated with some pride that, from time to time, T. Claude Ryan, the company’s founder and designer of The Spirit of St. Louis, would drop in and peer over Virgil’s shoulder to get a peek at the team’s newest design effort.

The Lure of Real Estate

When Virgil is asked how his interest in real estate began, leading him to take a Master’s Degree in the subject, he talks about his introduction to real estate. In 1971, Virgil and Sharon attended a real estate seminar. The primary attraction was a free steak dinner for all attendees, but they found the seminar interesting and decided to make a more thorough investigation of the real estate world. They drove out to Lake Riverside to see the presented project. Virgil recognized the organized sales process, from the red-carpet reception and scripted pitch, right through to the golf-cart escort to the lots, which were quickly dwindling in availability according to the “just sold” announcements over the loud speakers.

At the end of four hours, their salesperson brought in a sales manager who offered to discount a lot for them, but only if they bought that same day. Holding off temptation, Virgil and Sharon left the sales office without buying. Instead, Virgil did the homework, calling numbers from the “For Sale” signs surrounding the development. He found that land in the area sold for one-tenth what the lots were commanding within the subdivision that they had just left. Recognizing that real estate was profitable, he decided to buy acreage and do the developing himself.

True to form, Virgil did next what he always does when approaching a problem. He did the homework, spending a year researching and learning about real estate. When he was ready, he started looking for a broker who was both honest and knowledgeable. He remembers that the search wasn’t easy, but his long and thorough preparation paid off when he found a man who met the requirements, Ken Tilton. Like a good engineer, Virgil prepared a logical and concise list of the investments he was looking for, and what he could afford. Long before the development of the buyer-broker concept evolved, Virgil suggested to Ken that if Ken would work hard to meet Virgil’s objectives, he would remain loyal to Ken as his broker. Ken found the first of many good real estate investments and Virgil followed up on it. The first transaction was the 1972 purchase of a twenty-two acre parcel, bought for $20,000 and divided into two one-acre and four five-acre lots. By 1973, after selling all lots for a total of $50,000, Virgil had a 350% per annum return on investment. His next two transactions brought returns of 216% and 150% per annum. Along the way, as his family and friends showed interest in Virgil’s land-division projects, Virgil began putting partnerships together.

Meanwhile, back at Ryan, as Virgil talked about his real estate adventures during coffee and lunch breaks with friends, a colleague, Dick Huber, asked for his help in dividing a ten-acre parcel that Dick owned. Impressed by the results, Dick encouraged Virgil to try for his broker’s license, even though Virgil had no real estate salesman license. To sit for the broker’s exam without the required apprenticeship as a salesman would require special permission from the Department of Real Estate. Based on his college courses in real estate and his investment experience, the State granted his petition. On one real estate school practice exam, Virgil was marked “wrong” on six answers. He double checked the answers and found that, in fact, he was correct with four of his answers. He pointed out the errors in both questions and answers to the school. Classic Virgil! Sharon told him, “If you can find errors in the answers provided with the practice exams, I think you’re ready for the real exam.” In 1974, he passed the exam in the first sitting.

Dick’s wife, Betty, had received her real estate salesperson’s license a few years earlier and was working for a broker who had decided to retire. Dick, who had just received his salesman license, suggested that Dick and Betty form a partnership with Virgil and Sharon to buy the real estate business from Betty’s retiring broker for $5,000. The four of them opened their brokerage, “Four Flags West,” on January 1, 1975. They built the business into three offices — two residential and one commercial — at one point managing forty-five salespeople. Dick managed the residential agents while Virgil specialized in development and limited partnership syndication, and built a shopping center. Building wealth for others very successfully, they phased from the equity building of the early to mid-1980s to a liquidation phase dictated by the economics of the times. By 2000, the partners had sold their shopping center and 120 other properties.

BA Philosophy for Real Estate Success

One of Virgil’s greatest assets is his ability to recognize his kind of people and sustain relationships over many years. His loyalty to friends and business associates, and their loyalty to him, shows in his thirty-two-year partnership with Dick Huber, his partnership with Dan Harrison on projects between 1985 and 2000 (now continuing in G5), tennis friendships that have lasted for more than twenty-five years, and his more than fifty-year friendship with high school pal Fred Riffle.

Virgil met Chet Allen nearly thirty years ago when Chet was giving a class on large money syndication in Los Angeles. Virgil knew Chet as a national educator with a reputation as “one of the brightest guys in the business.” Virgil describes Chet as a wonderful person and a great guy to be around and was flattered when Chet stopped him once to say, “I’ve got to take a minute and tell you something. I really, really appreciate your business sense.” For his part, Chet says Virgil “is an impressive presence” and “the most brilliant guy that I’ve ever met doing anything in regard to investment offerings and progress reports.”

“Everyone calls Virgil the go-to guy, or the center of the G5 spider web,” pointing out that he “makes a good partner,” says Chet, and he should know. Years later, the two became partners, along with three other people, in G5 Enterprises. Chet points out that Virgil’s representation of the group is “well beyond the administrative positions of his current roles of President and Treasurer of the corporation, and Administrator of the different projects. He excels at those roles, of course, unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen before. However, he is a great point man for investor relations, lender relations, and client relations. Virgil is the man.” This is quite a compliment from not just a peer, but from a real estate leader, instructor, and long-time successful developer, who many consider a real estate legend.

Another recognition of Virgil’s unique abilities came from Jim Brondino, a nationally recognized real estate professional and instructor, whom Virgil holds in high regard. Because Jim was unavailable at the time, Jim referred an attorney to Virgil to act in the capacity of an expert witness in a legal proceeding. Virgil doesn’t always see himself as the expert that others do. Maybe that is the sign of a good and cautious developer.

Besides being proud of his work at Ryan, Virgil lists his academic achievements as a Bachelor of Science (Engineering) and an MBA (Real Estate), and professional achievements as membership in S.E.C. where he was President in 2004. He has also served on the Board of the National Council of Exchangors, and wrote a portion of their Gold Card Course manual. For his contributions to the S.E.C., including his stint as editor of the SEC Observer, Virgil was awarded the Bob Steele award.

Virgil never liked any form of traditional sales activities, which he calls “door-to-door encyclopedia sales,” using insincere techniques such as “overcoming objections” and convincing, or manipulating others. (He listed a condo once, but never sold a single-family residence in his entire career.) Asked to name a personal and professional strength, he mentions his logical approach to decision-making, “clearing away all emotional clutter allows for a focus on solutions.” When asked what he likes about his work, he mentioned logic, details, being his own boss, and life-long learning. His natural affinity for tax law, real estate law, and business law all appeal to his technical side.

Using the logic of science and engineering, he believes that “a problem well defined is a problem half solved.” Virgil has encouraged many, including me, to approach any situation by writing it out. “If you can’t write it in concise language, then you don’t understand it,” he says, and “stating the problem in writing opens a process of discovery that leads to new solutions.” As frustrating as his evenings of writing can be, he knows that during sleep his subconscious will keep working and present him with new insights in the morning. Virgil points out that “frustration” is your friend. Without frustration, the subconscious does not go to work to provide you with the answer. His partners and friends look to him for advice, knowing that if he says something, he’s researched it thoroughly and spent time thinking the problem through.

His belief that all problems have solutions is a key factor in his willingness to stick with a difficult situation until he finds the best solution. A hotel transaction in the mid-1980s is an example of Virgil’s tenacity. He and Dick Huber each had a $500,000 line of credit secured by a valuable piece of commercial land. They were also invested in a San Diego hotel on Park Boulevard, master leased by an operator in the elderly housing business. In an unfavorable economy, the bank decided to call the lines of credit at renewal. A broker surfaced with an offer on the hotel that Virgil accepted. However, despite no security deposit from the master lease tenant and an estoppel certificate supporting that fact, the tenant insisted that they be refunded $25,000 for a security deposit. The broker, who had promised Virgil that she would not be a dual agent and would represent him only, came to Virgil and told him that “her client” (her surprising reference to the buyer) expected Virgil and Dick to pay the unreasonable tenant demand of $25,000.

Despite their need to be ready when the lender called the debt within ninety days, Virgil reprimanded the agent over lunch. She had acted as the “buyer’s agent,” she had not “fought for him,” and “she had not fought for the truth,” which was supported by the estoppel certificate showing that no security deposit was due. Virgil ended the lunch with a declaration of his intention to cancel the transaction. The broker called back later that afternoon to say that the buyer would pay the tenant’s unreasonable claim. Escrow was thereafter closed and the line of credit paid off. A long-time broker friend, Jennie Niles, calls it “the gutsiest thing” she’s ever seen. I asked Virgil whether, given the circumstances, he had been bluffing. Without hesitation, Virgil answers, “Not a bit. I wasn’t bluffing. I would have canceled. I think the broker realized that I was very serious.” Perhaps it depends on the situation whether Virgil’s approach here reveals a personal strength or a weakness. It could be either, and in this case, Virgil assessed the buyer’s desire for his property in his risk analysis. He chooses his risks wisely and, up to now, his track record has been strongly on the plus side.

G5 Group and Golden Circle Exchangors

In 2000, at the age of 63 and not planning to retire “until it stops being fun,” Virgil attended a meeting in Colorado, an S.E.C. Business Development Conference, to discuss how commercial realtors could be better business people. Virgil expressed frustration that his skills were not being translated into commensurate profits, as he watched relatively inexperienced agents earning large fees for listings that he felt he would be at least equally qualified to handle. He remembers the meeting as the most significant real estate turning point since the “steak dinner introduction” to the industry thirty years earlier. He came away from that meeting committed to setting specific goals and examining the barriers that could prevent him from reaching those goals.

Concurrently and coincidentally, Virgil had been meeting informally from time to time with four other like-minded people, all of whom were members of the Golden Circle of Exchangors, to look at real estate opportunities and share ideas. The five of them — Bob Stewart, Dan Harrison, Greg La Marca, Chet Allen, and Virgil Opfer — got along well and trusted each other. Given Virgil’s new determination to change the way he did business after the Colorado meeting, the highly specialized group, whose skills complemented each other, began more serious and formal discussions. Early in 2001, the five-member team became G5 Enterprises, a C Corporation. Their written objective in their newly formed mission statement read, “Make a lot of money while having a lot of fun.” Although caring for investors’ money is always paramount, Virgil believes in the basic rule that when skilled people are enjoying what they do, financial success is most likely to follow. Underlying G5’s success is Virgil’s belief that “with the right partners, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Good partners create a synergy that changes the math from 2 + 2 = 4 to 2 + 2 = 5, or even more.” With Virgil as President and CEO, his vision of team synergy proved itself in one of G5’s first deals, a condo conversion in Bonsall, California. All units in the condo conversion were sold within sixty days of completion in May 2004, and the group realized a profit of $2,924,000. The project had made nearly profit on invested capital of in less than a year, from start to finish, Virgil credits Chet with the “genius of creating leadership roles.” Chet’s concept was to create roles for five basic elements of most real estate projects, with a lucrative financial incentive attached to each role. The five roles are as follows: Finder, who finds the prospective project; Funder, who finds the equity; Project Manager, an on-site asset manager; Administrator, who brings different aspects of the project together while reporting to the investors and the bank; and Loan Guarantor, the recourse member whose personal assets are at risk when acquiring the bank loan. The individual and collective reputations of the partners are such that they are able to capitalize G5’s projects, to a great degree, with investors’ capital.

The return of capital in addition to eighteen percent per annum both go to the capital investor who supplies the money. Then profits are distributed first to those who have performed a leadership role and, second, the remaining profit is split to each of the G5 members in five equal parts. To date, G5 has completed five projects (with the sixth just finishing now), including condo conversions, land development, and residential construction, and is currently working on another four additional active projects. G5 meets monthly to deal with old business, project reports, pending transactions, and consideration of proposed projects. Often the experience and expertise of the partners is sufficient to complete a project. When they need assistance, one of them knows who to go to for answers. Problem-solving discussions are typical and unanimous consent is needed for all decisions to move forward.

Chet Allen says there was “never a discussion of who the Administrator should be.” Virgil was the obvious choice for the role. When a G5 representative has to meet with the top people in companies the group is dealing with, again says Chet, “It should be Virgil.” The Administrator’s job is full time. All information from the Project Manager on-site crosses Virgil’s desk. While he speaks with Chet and Bob often, he normally speaks with Greg several times a day. Virgil initiated the G5 practice of giving monthly and/or quarterly reports, not just to his own team, but also to equity investors and banks. Bank managers praise the quality of Virgil’s work, and appreciate the periodic reports, something many of them say they don’t usually get from equity investors who borrow from them.

According to Virgil’s ballpark calculations, he has made five times as much money in the five years with G5 than in the previous thirty years combined. He is proud of this accomplishment and believes all his previous experience prepared him for his roles within G5 Enterprises. His advice to others is that they find the right people to work with, thereby enhancing the skills of the group and increasing production tenfold. His advice on choosing partners is never to pick one whose skills are available for hire, such as attorneys, accountants, and general contractors. A partner’s skills, he says, should be essential to bringing about the successful completion of a stated objective, which otherwise would be difficult or cost prohibitive to hire.

Life Now

Virgil’s life, projects, and varied careers prepared him for where he is right now — a well-rounded person, a contented family man, and a successful businessman. Besides taking pleasure in his counselor role within the S.E.C. family, he enjoys the S.E.C. brainstorming sessions where talented professionals share advanced knowledge in a confidential environment. Everyone involved in the process comes out ahead, through either experience gained or discovering a new avenue to profit.

Virgil and Sharon have now reached the stage of their life together when they are the senior generation. Virgil’s father, Waldo, passed away after a heart attack at the young age of 54. His mother, Opal, fought cancer for many years and lived into her 89th year. The legacy Waldo and Opal passed on to their three children — determination to succeed, well-honed professional skills, and a strong work ethic — have propelled Virgil and his siblings through successful and satisfying careers. Virgil’s brother Gerald retired in San Diego after a career building prototypes of electronic devices at the Naval Electronics Laboratory (NEL). Their sister, Marilyn, is also retired and living in Covina, following a career as head of Food Service at Mount San Antonio Junior College.

Virgil and Sharon have four children and two grandchildren. Their oldest child, Laura, is a self-employed faux painter. Their second, Brad, and his wife Melanie, have a six-year old son, Chad, and live in San Diego. Their third, Todd, and his wife Debbie also live in San Diego with their thirteen-year old son, Dalton. The youngest son, Doug, lives with his wife, Pam, in Las Vegas. All of them have inherited the Opfer dedication to meticulous work habits and creative thinking.

Speaking with Todd and Laura, both of whom I met before, Laura considered herself the luckiest person to have the parents that she does. She is amazed at her father’s ability to “see multiple perspectives simultaneously.” Laura appreciates that she is able to go to Virgil for advice without being made to feel that she must do what he says. Todd echoed that sentiment when stating that he had “always been able to count on my Dad with the best Fatherly advice. It’s a good feeling to know that he’s there if I need him.” Laura recognized that while growing up, after Virgil and Sharon bought the second house that the children lived in, Virgil was working very hard and wasn’t home a lot. Laura said that her father is fun to be around, is “generous and caring” and “easy to look up to.” In addition, she points out that Virgil and Sharon are a great team that is enhanced by the balance that Sharon brings, motivating and supporting Virgil while giving him “the sunshine that he needs.” Todd mentions that his parenting skills have been helped by life values instilled by his parents. Todd appreciates the fact that his dad was there as his baseball coach when Todd was playing Little League; and now Virgil is there beside Todd at Dalton’s Pop Warner football games. As well as considering Virgil to be “the best Grandpa,” Todd enjoyed working with Virgil on a few projects that Virgil designed and Todd built. Todd says, “It was great to work on a project when you can see someone’s vision that is so clear and concise.” Todd’s wife, Debbie, added that Virgil “is a fantastic writer expressing his life experiences that touch anyone who reads them.” Todd sums up that his dad is “an all around great guy with many talents.”

Since 1981, Sharon has enjoyed singing with the Rancho Bernardo Chorale, a community choir whose performances raise money for music students. Sharon’s Silver Life Master title for bridge demonstrates her competitive (and winning) side. When I asked her to give me some dirt on Virgil, all she could think of was that “he eats too much peanut butter.” It was clear that even that very minor fault was long-since forgiven when she said, “Virgil is my rock.” They will celebrate their forty-eighth anniversary next month (July 2007).

As for Virgil, he’s always busy with projects and family, and states that he doesn’t have time for pleasure reading. He remains an avid sports fan and enjoys tennis twice a week, as he has for over twenty-five years. He still has his stamp collection, loves to sketch, and appreciates good craftsmanship and “well-executed mechanical skill.”

Above all, he loves to spend time with his grandsons, and he also loves to talk about them and their accomplishments. In addition to applauding Dalton’s football talents, he is proud of Dalton’s intelligence and scholastic ability, which put the youngster in an elite group of students receiving the Scholastic Achievement Award for perfect 4.0 grade point average in both the sixth and seventh grades. Chad, the charming extrovert, enjoys his time with Virgil, but recently pointed out that his grandfather couldn’t join him at karate practice because “you’ve got to be a member, Grandpa.” Virgil believes that this grandchild could be President of the United States.

When asked about his life goal now, Virgil states that he wants to “live long enough to see my two grandsons make a difference in the world.” Besides loving, enjoying, and spending time with the younger generation, Virgil gets a kick out of telling me the ongoing plots of the stories he writes for them. More recently, he started an adventure story that included the two boys needing to wear gas masks because the giant grasshoppers that were attacking the boys had bad breath. At this point of Virgil’s recounting, Chad remarked to Dalton, “Wow, who knows what, or who, they have been eating.” With the children off to bed thinking of the adventures, Virgil retires for the evening thinking of where the adventure should go next. Virgil awakes early to complete the next phase of the story so that his eager audience won’t be disappointed.


Almost any organization would consider themselves fortunate to have a member like Virgil since he is a welcome figure to any problem-solving situation, giving generously of himself to family, friends, the S.E.C., and his community. He has been very helpful to many (including the author), which makes him not just a member and a past President of the S.E.C., but a good man, a good friend and an asset to the S.E.C. family and the community at large. It is a fun and rewarding experience to meet him, which, not surprisingly, is the way Virgil sees it when he meets you.

One Comment »

  1. This was a very interesting bio. I happened to read it after Nikki Phillips gave me a copy of a well written letter you sent her on June 21, 2013 regarding a home she has in Indio.
    Your history and success would indicate you would prefer that business is “fair to all concerned”.
    We hope it turns out OK for Nikki.