Rose Wiley has lived in Topanga her whole life and is our eldest native. Her grandfather, Francisco Trujillo, boarded horses and lived off the land while homesteading here in 1886. Rose, the daughter of Dolores and Cornelia Trujillo, was born in 1931.
Rose attended elementary school in the old schoolhouse on Topanga Canyon Boulevard (now Froggy’s) and later went to Canoga Park high school. At that time, the valley was mostly farmland; Santa Monica, a fragment of what it was to become, was the place for supplies and entertainment.
As a young adult, Rose worked in the canyon at the Hitching Post and met Robert (“Bob”) Wiley, whom she married in 1952. In 1959, they procured a building permit in one day and subsequently built the house in which she still lives. When reflecting upon life in Topanga at that time, Rose says that people “knew each other and watched out for each other.”
Rose and Bob had six children and have seven grandchildren. Their children have wonderful memories of Topanga and its rugged beauty. The family liked to go camping and they embarked on many adventures. Sometimes, times were tough but they always managed. Rose was a good seamstress and made many of the children’s clothes. She also sewed for others and claimed she was often paid less than it was worth. Bob (who passed away at 91 in 2010) worked for many years as an electrical/mechanical technician.
Progress moved along with time. The valley exploded with construction in the fifties and real estate prices followed suit. In the sixties and seventies, Rose was busy raising her children and wasn’t involved in the counter-culture that brought many people to Topanga. Her children were church-going and Rose made sure to instill a strong sense of responsibility in them.
Rose has a great memory and is thankful for her many blessings. Her house is often the scene of large family gatherings where food and memories are shared. These days she can be known to linger in her lovely garden and surrounding property. Rose, is a living legend in Topanga. May she continue to enjoy her life here.
*Editor’s Note: Long-time Messenger photographer Anthony Verebes passed away in early December 2017. This was one of the last photos he took for the Messenger Mountain News.
A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, January 4,
By Diane Shields