Shirley Rübel Lorenz. Click to enlarge.
Shirley Rübel Lorenz — the inspiration behind Rancho Camulos Museum and its first president — was born April 16, 1927, three years after her parents purchased the ranch from the Del Valle family.
Nicknamed "Pete," she was one of five surviving children of August Rübel, a Harvard-educated dairy farmer, and wife Mary. (A sixth child, August Jr., died in infancy.) Shirley grew up on the 1,800-acre ranch, and wherever life took her, she always considered Rancho Camulos "home."
After graduating from Occidental College, Shirley attended the American Institute for Foreign Trade in Glendale, Ariz., where she met Robert M. Lorenz, a Stanford graduate who was preparing for a foreign assignment with National City Bank (later called Citibank). In the summer of 1955, the couple married in a double wedding on the steps of the historic chapel at Rancho Camulos alongside Shirley's sister Nathalie (Robert E. Trefzger) in front of 500 guests. Shirley and Robert raised four children.
After the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, Shirley, along with Nathalie (nicknamed "Boo") and other family members and associates formed the nonprofit museum to preserve, maintain and share the historic ranch property with the public. "My father brought us up to know that this place was a trust, and he wanted to make it into a museum," Shirley told reporters in April 1995. "That was his dream and now it's become mine." Shirley spearheaded efforts to secure state, federal and private grant funds to restore the earthquake-damaged buildings, and she led the drive to make Rancho Camulos a National Historic Landmark, which designation came in 2000.
Shirley poured her heart into Rancho Camulos before and during two full decades of active service on the museum board. In her later years she could still be seen at the ranch twice a week, tending her cherished rose garden — where yellow roses were a "must." Shirley died in her sleep at her Rolling Hills Estates home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula on May 17, 2017. Her ashes were spread in the rose garden on the north side of the chapel where she wed.
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. Rancho Camulos Museum collection.