Audrey Deardorff, a successful horse breeder and owner, wanted to ensure that her passion for equine education and activities would continue after her death. She died in 2005 at the age of 82 and left her horse ranch to Cal Poly Pomona, knowing that the university would preserve her legacy.
The windfall gift, which is valued at nearly $3 million, includes 6 acres of land, stables, a barn, three houses and a horse arena in Norco.
“This was definitely a wonderful surprise. As a horse lover, Mrs. Deardorff was likely familiar with the history of Cal Poly Pomona and W.K. Kellogg’s Arabian horses,” says Michelle Moyer, interim associate vice president for development. “We want to honor Mrs. Deardorff’s desire to share her love of horses with Norco and the surrounding community.”
Deardorff grew up on a ranch in Costa Mesa, and at an early age, developed an exceptional ability to communicate with horses. A skilled stunt rider, she won numerous blue ribbons at horse show competitions throughout the Southwest. She could ride on the backs of two galloping horses while standing with one foot on each. Her talent and statuesque beauty won her an invitation to be a stunt rider in the 1944 film “Take It Big,” starring Jack Haley, Harriet Hilliard and Ozzie Nelson.
For more than 50 years, Deardorff raised and bred hundreds of thoroughbreds and racing quarter horses. The Deardorff Ranch is home to a private riding school that trains numerous young people in the art of English riding.
Cal Poly Pomona has embarked on a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to ensure that a quality college education is within reach for future generations of students. The campaign will strengthen the university’s ability to provide a hands-on education, to prepare students for the changing demands of the workplace, and to increase research and scholarship opportunities. The fundraising campaign relies on the support of the entire campus community — from alumni to faculty and staff to friends of the university. For more information, visit https://campaign.cpp.edu/.