San Diego remembers Nancarrow with healing garden at Scripps


In memory of the late San Diego television anchor and weatherman, family and friends gathered Jan. 22 to dedicate the Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden at Scripps Radiation Therapy Center in La Jolla.

The healing garden was named in honor of the longtime TV personality, who died from brain cancer at age 60 in December 2013. He lived with his wife, Susie, in Solana Beach.

“It takes a village, and this is a pretty spectacular group of villagers gathered here today,” said Susan Taylor, Nancarrow’s former co-anchor and current executive director of external affairs at Scripps Health. “Here we are, one year, one month and 25 days after Loren passed away, able to stand in the Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden.”

More than 1,000 donors helped make Nancarrow’s dream a reality, raising more than $500,000. Funds raised in his name will also be used to provide patient support services for cancer patients at Scripps Health, including support groups, stress reduction classes, nutrition classes, acupuncture and yoga.

Designed by landscape architect Pat Caughey, the rooftop garden features benches, a tree and numerous plants, including a new variety of lobelia flowering plants that bloom cobalt blue — Nancarrow’s favorite color.

Phil Fischman and Valeri Okun from Encinitas-based Beads, Crystals and More donated a Shiva Lingam stone, which symbolizes balance and harmony.

“This garden is going to be a blessing to so many people — so many patients and their families going through some of the most trying times in their lives,” Fischman said. “May this be a place of peace that they can reflect and take a breath and be, finding some solace.”

The idea for the healing garden stemmed from Nancarrow wanting to create a comforting place for cancer patients.

“He said, ‘If I don’t make it, I want someone else to make it to their treatment so they can,’” Susie Nancarrow recalled. “So we decided to start a foundation to do something to make a difference.

“I just want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” she added. “Know that he’s gone, but he’s not forgotten. You being here will make — has made — a difference in other people’s lives.”

Singer-songwriter Peter Bolland, a friend of the Nancarrow family, opened and closed the ceremony with songs such as Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Scripps nurse Rod Salaysay played a song he wrote for the occasion on his ukulele.

One of the most poignant moments in the ceremony came when Nancarrow’s son, Graham, performed “We Ain’t Got the Time,” a song he wrote in response to a letter from his father.

“Not gonna lie, this don’t sit well. It hurts my heart to see you go through hell,” sang, Graham, frontman of American country band, Nancarrow. “I say my prayers every night in my bed, when the heaps of thoughts run through my head. Don’t cry. We’ve got a life to live.”

For more than 30 years, San Diegans welcomed Nancarrow into their homes. The five-time Emmy award-winning journalist’s career landed him on CBS News 8, ABC 10 News and most recently on Fox 5 News. With a love of nature, he was also an organic farmer, gardener and author of four gardening books.

Nancarrow was diagnosed with Stage III brain cancer in February 2013. He died on Dec. 28, 2013, leaving behind Susie and their three adult children, Graham, Hannah and Britta.

“Thank you for being a friend to Loren,” Taylor told the crowd through tears at the end of the ceremony. “Thank you for being a friend to his family, thank you for being a friend to Scripps and all the other cancer patients who will benefit from this place of healing and tranquility.

“The Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden — what a wonderful legacy to a man who gave so much to the community of San Diego for the past 30 plus years. Love grows, love blooms, because of all of you.”