HomeBlocksFront-GridDespite Veronda’s Passing, Southwestern Charges Forward

Despite Veronda’s Passing, Southwestern Charges Forward

San Marino’s venerable Southwestern Academy is quietly but confidently assessing its future following the death of Ken Veronda, who served as its headmaster for 58 years.

Veronda died on April 9 after a brief illness. When he did, it marked the first time in its almost 100-year history that Southwestern did not have someone with the last name Veronda among its leaders.

Though he had retired as headmaster two years ago, Veronda had remained active on Southwestern’s board of directors and continued to participate in the school’s operation until his final days.

“Kenneth Veronda’s indomitable will and unbridled love of life make this a painful loss for all of us at Southwestern Academy,” said Robin Jarchow, Southwestern’s head of school. “Since his retirement in July 2020, Ken always made himself available to offer counsel and assistance to those of us entrusted with the future of the school. His six decades as headmaster earned him a trove of experience that is irreplaceable. As we mourn his passing, we shall also keenly feel his absence.”

Veronda’s father, Maurice, started Southwestern in 1924, when he purchased the property on Monterey Road known as the Los Robles Ranch. When Maurice Veronda died suddenly, Ken Veronda became headmaster at the age of 23.

“For more than half a century thereafter, maintaining his father’s legacy was Ken’s life mission, one that he pursued with dedication and passion,” said Jarchow.

“Ken’s expansive understanding of local history, his dry wit and his worldly perspectives on many facets of education will surely be remembered by the many lives which he impacted in a positive way,” said Jon Crowley, a lifetime San Marino resident, who currently chairs Southwestern’s board of directors. “Most importantly, though, his genuine concern for others will be missed more than anything. His extraordinary efforts to establish and maintain personal relationships with Southwestern’s students, faculty and staff members for many decades were remarkable. His quiet generosity, supportive encouragement and authentic kindness were all part of his unique personal fabric.”

While approaching its centennial and celebrating its history, Southwestern is also busy addressing its future. The academy has been rattled by the pandemic, which has challenged its status as a destination for international students.

“Now, it is our honor and duty to preserve and advance that family legacy with an unwavering commitment,” Jarchow added. “The changes and positive advancements that we initiated upon Ken’s retirement are beginning to bear positive results.”

Along with its iconic presence on Monterey Road, Southwestern in 1963 purchased a property in Rimrock, Arizona — the Beaver Creek Ranch campus. Jarchow will now be in charge of charting Southwestern’s course as it approaches its centennial.

“While Ken’s passing ends the long tenure of the Veronda family’s stewardship of Southwestern Academy, the school’s fine legacy will continue to grow under the competent and experienced leadership of Ms. Jarchow,” Crowley said. “Ken’s proud confidence in Robin was quite visionary. The board of trustees shares Ken’s opinion that Robin is well equipped in every way to successfully lead the school to great accomplishments in its second century.”

“Some of our deepest sadness comes from knowing that Ken won’t be with us to witness our next chapter, nor with us for Southwestern Academy’s centennial anniversary in 2024,” Jarchow said. “It is our hope that he shall be at peace, secure in the knowledge that this school shall remain a San Marino educational institution for many decades to come.”

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