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San Clemente Journal

Rick Divel, Meet San Clemente’s New Patriarch

Aug 29, 2019 08:36AM ● By Tom Marshall

1949: The young Divel worked for his godfather Mert Hackett who owned the San Clemente Sun, our local paper.

by Tom Marshall, San Clemente Historical Society

As 73, Rick Divel finds himself not only the youngest San Clemente Patriarch in recent memory, but in an unlikely career as an insurance broker considering some of his youthful adventures.  
He received his first traffic ticket at age fourteen; not something most people in the insurance business would want on their resume. As Rick tells it, times were different then. “My mom and the kids in our family sometimes spent an entire day at the beach, surfing, eating, surfing, sunning, and then eating some more. My dad, Roy, Junior, would join us after closing the family furniture store in the evening.  So there would be two cars and my mom would sometimes be too tired out to drive home, so starting at age eleven she let me drive one car. I was instructed to take the back way home, along Ola Vista. We only had to avoid two cops back then,” Rick notes.  He was such a cautious driver his mom began letting him pick up his sister and drive to the

The ticket incident actually took place on a trip in Utah. “Mom was so tired she asked me to take the wheel for awhile.  I was doing just fine then this police car passed us going the other way. I saw him do a u-turn and I knew I was in trouble.  The officer pulled us over, but was very nice. He said my driving was just fine, but since I couldn’t even see over the steering wheel, it was not a good idea.  My mom actually got the ticket,” Divel said.

 Despite these early transgressions Rick Divel has continued the family reputation as pillars of the community. In June he succeeded longtime friend Jack Lashbrook who recently passed away as San Clemente’s Patriarch. Rick was named after his grandfather, who served as the first San Clemente Patriarch. His grandfather worked with Ole Hanson in founding San Clemente, and built one of the first commercial structures in the area, a mortuary, which Hanson insisted he built outside city limits. The junior Rick’s aunt Lois is the current Matriarch.

The entire Divel family has a long history of community involvement including founding the San Clemente Historical Society. Besides their business interests, the Divel Dynasty has been involved in a wide variety of community non-profit organizations.

Rick’s first paid job was in the newspaper business. His godparents, the Hacketts, owned the San Clemente Sun. “I remember Mert setting the old type and hand-printing the paper. My job was folding them.  I was almost five-years-old,” Rick said. Almost five? Let the record show he was four.

Divel entered Las Palmas Elementary School in 1950 and went on to become a member of the first class at Concordia School in 1955. Since San Clemente didn’t have a high school back then, Divel had to bus it to Capistrano Union High where he graduated in 1963. After graduating from Santa Ana College he played two years on the Golf Team at Cal State University Los Angeles. Then, Divel entered the most famous era of his life, becoming a professional golfer.

 He qualified for the P.G.A. circuit in 1968. He won some money that year, but he modestly says, “I knew I wasn’t good enough to make a living as a golfer, so I hung it up after that year.  It would have been a hard life anyway because back then you had to qualify every week and you drove to the tournaments.”  And it seemed like something would happen to cause problems; like the time after playing at Pebble Beach, Divel returned to his car to find all of his credit cards had melted on the dashboard.  You can see where the idea of insurance began to appeal to him.

Traveling the P.G.A. circuit did give Divel an appreciation for how great life is in San Clemente. “Until I started traveling to those other towns, I thought everyone lived like this with the beach and perfect weather,” Divel recalled.  

The golf course also gave him the opportunity to meet celebrities including President Richard Nixon.  “I never played with him, but I would see him and his Secret Service guys on the course occasionally. One time in Mission Hills a group asked if they could play through. It was Vice President Gerald Ford and Frank Sinatra,” Divel remembered.

Settling down, Divel followed his father into the insurance business in 1978. In 1983 he founded his current company, Divel Insurance. In addition Divel has been extremely active in local charities including youth sports programs, the Chamber of Commerce, the San Clemente Historical Society, Casa Romantica and of course the San Clemente Golf Commission and Men’s Golf Club.

The honorary Patriarch and Matriarch positions are selected by the Historical Society and confirmed by the city council.  “I am honored and delighted to be chosen as Patriarch,” Divel told the council upon his confirmation.

Rick Divel has two children, Ryan and Keith as well as three boys, Brandon, Ryan and Jeremy with his wife Reeca. 



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