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By Helen Ofield, President, Lemon Grove Historical Society

Photo: Marcos and Concepcion Ortega

December 14, 2017 (Lemon Grove) -- The City of Lemon Grove will honor Ilse Hanning and Marcos Jewelry on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Community Center, 3140 School Lane, as part of the city council's year-long observation of the 40th anniversary of civic incorporation. Businesses and community builders that have played key roles over four decades are recognized at council meetings.

Ilse Hanning (right) is the former assistant superintendent of the Lemon Grove School District, one of the first women school principals in the country, and a former teacher in several local schools. She co-chaired two school bonds, LL in 1998 and W in 2008,which upgraded aging, post World War II schools and built the beautiful Lemon Grove Library. In a follow-up she served on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee on Prop W.

 A world traveler who speaks four languages (German, English, Spanish, French), Hanning is a veritable ambassador for Lemon Grove, especially through her years of serving Soroptimist of Lemon Grove, for which she has hosted international visitors, led international tours, promoted international goodwill in more than two dozen countries, and chaired countless fundraisers.

A native of Vienna, Austria, she met her late husband, Keith Hanning, when both were fledgling teachers in South Dakota. Together they moved to California, ultimately landing in Lemon Grove, where their impact on the community's educational growth spanned 40 years. Hanning remains in touch with many of the faculty and administrative staff she hired over the years, and is a favorite with school district alumni.

Concurrently with a busy professional career, Hanning has raised an accomplished family, devoted years to raising funds for St. John of the Cross Church, and enjoys cooking and hosting public and private events.

Marcos Ortega, a native of the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, and his wife, Concepcion Ortega of Vera Cruz, Mexico, have run Marcos Jewelry on Broadway, Lemon Grove, for decades. Their planned retirement in January, 2018 will leave a void in the business community, which they have come to symbolize as a leading "mom and pop business" so typical of the community.

Ortega brings Old World artisanal skills to watchmaking and watch and clock repair, as well as jewelry repair. He can take apart an intricate 19th century clock and reassemble it in working order. His expertise, patience, courtly manner and modest prices hail from another age.

Yet, the Ortegas have keen, current involvement in their adopted country, having raised a son who is a 20-year veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, as is their daughter-in-law. Their son's USMC badges and gear are proudly displayed on the wall of Marcos Jewelry.

Marcos Jewelry is emblematic of local businesses built and nurtured by a single family, often immigrants to the New World. The Ortegas are heir to the European, Mexican and Japanese pioneers who have built Lemon Grove since the late 1880s and whose cultural, family and business ties have made the home of The Big Lemon the most diverse and integrated community in San Diego County.

The board of the Lemon Grove Historical Society salutes these leaders in our community and urges all to attend the Dec. 19 council meeting to witness Mayor Raquel Vasquez's presentation of civic proclamations, and applaud and cheer the accomplishments of two of our very own.