REGION — Longtime Encinitas resident and entrepreneur Theodore Lambro “Ted” Vallas died of heart failure on Nov. 13 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, according to a family spokesperson.
He was 99 years old.
“June, Tee and the entire Vallas family are overwhelmed by the heartwarming response from Ted’s friends, business associates and family members,” a family spokesperson told The Coast News.
Vallas was born on March 11, 1921, in Pocatello, Idaho.
In high school, Vallas was a standout basketball, football and baseball player, according to his 2009 self-published memoir, “Life is an Opportunity.”
Upon graduation in 1940, Vallas enlisted in the Navy’s aviation program. During World War II, he served as a gunner and radioman in a Douglas TBD Devastator, a carrier-based torpedo bomber on the USS Wasp. After three years of fighting in the Pacific Theater, Vallas earned the title of chief petty officer.
In 1946, Vallas enrolled at the New England College in New Hampshire to play football and baseball.
After two years, Vallas had a brief stint at the University of New Mexico before enrolling at Balboa University (now California Western School of Law).
During his time at Balboa, his baseball career flourished after a chance meeting with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, who worked for the Cleveland Indians. Later, Vallas nearly signed with the San Diego Padres, a minor-league affiliate of the Indians at the time.
Eventually, Vallas left baseball for a more lucrative career as an entrepreneur, going on to own several resorts and country clubs, including El Camino (currently featuring a tribute to Vallas in the lobby), Whispering Palms (Morgan Run), Imperial Valley (Barbara Worth) and Olympic Resort in Carlsbad and Palm Desert.
Additionally, Vallas developed country clubs in England, France, Portugal Holland and Morroco, according to his book.
He also owned two aviation companies that operated out of Carlsbad, including Air Resort Airlines and California Pacific Airlines. The future of California Pacific remains unclear.
Vallas is survived by his wife, June, of 67 years; his son Theodore “Tee” Vallas, of Carlsbad; brother Charles Vallas, 103, of Florida; brother Larry Vallas, 98, of Oceanside; and Vangie Pemberton, 96, of Spokane, Wash. Vallas had two younger sisters, Peggy and Helen, and an older brother George B. Vallas, all of whom predeceased him.