Theodore Gildred, Sr. (1900-1967) was born on May 12, 1900, in Rochester, New York, one of nine children. His parents moved to South America in 1905, and he was educated in Argentina and Ecuador. He entered New York University in 1915 and graduated in 1918 as a civil engineer. His engineering career began with the job of surveying Lake Tahoe to establish the permanent water levels of the lake. He next returned to Ecuador to work with his brothers. During this period, he was granted Masonry's highest degree, the 33rd degree.
In 1925, he and his brother, Phil Gildred, came to San Diego, Ca, where they began building the Fox Theater in 1927. During the same year, he began flying at Dutch Flats, San Diego, with Doug Kelly, pioneer San Diego aviator, in a Travelair biplane. He bought a Stinson monoplane in 1929 and, accompanied by Doug Kelly, flew to New York to give his mother her first airplane ride. In 1931, he acquired a Wright R5 Whirlwind-powered Ryan Brougham monoplane from Mahoney Ryan Aircraft Corporation and embarked on a 9,000 mile goodwill flight to Quito, Ecuador. He was given a "Lindbergh Welcome" upon landing in Quito and commemorated with the Ecuadorian Medal of Honor by the President of Ecuador. After his historic flight, he donated his aircraft, "Ecuador", to the people of Ecuador as a goodwill gesture to help the growth of aviation in that country.
Returning to San Diego he married Maxine Edmonds, and in 1934, moved to Mexico City with his family. In the period between 1937 and 1965 he developed Lindavista, one of the largest subdivisions north of Mexico City, in association with Ign. Pascual Ortiz Rubio, ex-president of Mexico. During the 1940's and 1950's, Gildred also developed one of the largest chains of movie theaters in Mexico with Gen. Abelardo Rodriguez, who had also been one of Mexico's presidents.
Gildred died in June, 1967, in San Diego. Prior to his death, he established the Gildred Foundation in San Diego, which has made major contributions in the medical research field to the Scripps clinic and Research Foundation, Salk Institute, and University of California at San Diego.
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