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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Evey Torre-Bueno's 'Whole Little World'

Evey Torre-Bueno listens and learns about the 'whole little world' of plants.

By Karen Krugman.

If you have ordered or picked up your SDHS name tag, chances are you have met Evey Torre-Bueno. Born near Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx in 1923, she’s our oldest (in years only) volunteer.

Evey came to San Diego from Astoria, Queens with a colorful history to share. She tells me that she had a garden in Queens where she grew peonies, lilacs, and forsythia. Upon moving to San Diego in January 1992, she needed to learn what would grow here and experimented with different kinds of plants. Her inquisitiveness is what drew her to the newly formed SDHS in 1994. The meetings were at the Quail Botanical Gardens (now San Diego Botanic Garden), which was under construction. According to Evey, “There weren’t even doors on the bathrooms for the first meeting!”

In the early days, Evey listened and learned at the meetings. After her daughter-in-law, Susi Torre-Bueno, became SDHS president in 2003, Evey started handling the distribution of name tags (in 2007) and continues to do so.

Evey studied personnel at NYU and worked for the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation as a regional salary and jobs analyst. She previously earned a degree from Goddard College in Art. Her husband was an artist and art history teacher, so it was a natural extension for her to enter that field of study.

Her affinity for photography came in handy when she served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 as a photographer. Originally stationed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard at the Naval Air Experimental Station, she later spent eight months in Hawaii taking ID pictures of everyone who lived or worked on Ford Island.

Volunteering is not new to Evey. In 1962, Consolidated Edison had plans to build an atomic plant in Long Island City, near the 59th Street Bridge. She helped form a committee to fight it, but in the end it was Rockefeller University that put the kibosh on it. (Thank you, Evey!)

In the 1970s, Evey developed a program to offer summer concerts in a park in Astoria, Queens. “There was trouble with boys fighting in the park, so I felt that if we had concerts then everybody could use the park.” It worked.

“During my early days in San Diego,” said Evey, “I was a docent at the San Diego Art Museum and at the Mingei Museum and represented them at the Docent League. Between Susi, my daughter Ava, my son Jose, and I, we got together and published a booklet (for the Docent League) listing over 100 museums in San Diego County." You can get this listing online.

And she proudly told me that she has participated in the last two Women’s Marches, as well as other political marches. She proves that activism knows no limits when it comes to age!

When asked to describe herself, Evey said, “Inquisitive.” What is she looking to learn more about? “I still want to learn about gardening even if I don’t do it. I’m interested in learning how to get low water plants to grow and making the place beautiful with them…it’s a whole little world."

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