DMF: Dreaming Big, Then Making It So – DMF’s Founders Lou Terrell and Joel Holliday

When Del Mar Day, a terrific 1980 event, turned into an annual happening, the need for a nonprofit organization to manage its finances became clear. That’s how the Del Mar Foundation came to be, with early incorporation and organizational work in 1981 (though DMF views 1982 as its “birth year”). The close ties between Del Mar Day and the City explain why one of the Del Mar Foundation’s Incorporators was the City of Del Mar (Lou Terrell, Mayor), along with the Del Mar Chamber of Commerce and the Del Mar Day Committee (Harvey Shapiro, Chair). In fact, early DMF Board meetings were noticed by the City Clerk, and the incorporation work was done by the City Attorney (Dwight Worden).


The vision for the Foundation articulated by the first Board of Directors (Joel Holliday, Lou Terrell, and Bill Kirwin) is notable for its ambition, well beyond Del Mar Days. Lou Terrell envisioned cultural performances, resulting in the first Twilight Concert Series in 1983. These concerts continue as a signature DMF event, along with other cultural events that Lou worked to achieve for our community. Joel Holliday envisioned a Community Endowment to provide funding for important community goals. A 1983 letter from the Board declared that the Foundation’s goals were “to provide the residents of and visitors to the Del Mar Community with cultural, recreational, and environmental amenities; to establish an endowment fund to provide both short and long-term funding sources for projects targeted to enrich the quality of life for Del Mar and the surrounding area; and to increase community involvement in civic affairs.”


In 2007, in perhaps the most momentous action in DMF history, Joel Holliday, back on the Board, led the launch of the DMF’s Community Endowment. In short order, Founding Endowment donors gave more than $600,000 to kick-start this important community resource. Quite an achievement during a worldwide economic crisis!


It would take a book to describe the visionary leadership Lou Terrell and Joel Holliday have provided to DMF and our community. In countless ways, Del Mar benefits because Lou and Joel dreamed big, then made it so.