In Memory

R Victor Venberg - Class Of 1924

R Victor Venberg

Victor Venberg

July 19, 1905 - March 4, 2002


Visitors to R. Victor Venberg's San Diego office in the 1930s didn't have to be told he specialized in fire insurance. They could probably tell by the decor. An avid collector of firehouse memorabilia, Mr. Venberg proudly displayed a vintage fire helmet and leather water bucket from the 1870s. As his collection grew over the years, he found an appropriate place to exhibit the items: an old fire station in Little Italy that he helped convert 35 years ago into the Firehouse Museum. Mr. Venberg, who founded the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Co. to honor San Diego's original volunteer firefighters, died of natural causes March 4 at his home in Olivenhain. He was 96.

The museum, which opened in 1967 as the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Museum, contains early hand-drawn rigs and firefighting equipment dating to the 1830s. The building in which it was founded is a relic. Built in 1915 at 1572 Columbia St., it was the longtime home of Fire Station 6. Mr. Venberg had said he would donate his collection for public display when he found a building large enough to securely house it. Previously, he kept his collection at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Ford Building in Balboa Park.

His interest in firefighting stemmed from his childhood in his native North Dakota. His father, a Swedish immigrant, owned a mercantile establishment that burned to the ground. Mr. Venberg moved to San Diego County more than 70 years ago and operated his insurance agency for 50 years. He was president in the 1930s of the San Diego Insurance Exchange and president in 1936 of the San Diego Executives Association. In 1969, he was elected to his second term as president of the San Diego Museum Association.

Mr. Venberg served as building chairman for the Community Presbyterian Church in Loma Portal. He was instrumental in founding the Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe, where he served as an elder. He had been a potentate in 1950 of Al Bahr Shrine and was a member of the Scottish Rite.

Survivors include his daughters, Mary Kay Knieriem of Pearisburg, Virginia, and Dordi V. Moriel of Olivenhain; six grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren. 

San Diego Union Tribune, March 10, 2002