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  • Writer's pictureJoan Gand

Historical Info on owner/builder Robert Liebner and family

Updated: Jun 1

We are the second owners of 807 La Jolla Rancho Rd. Here is some history on the original owners, who built the home.

Robert W. Liebner, a graduate of Michigan State with a degree in civil engineering designed and built our home in 1961. A native of Flint, Michigan, he received an engineering degree from Michigan State University. He moved to San Diego County in 1951. After working at Convair/General Dynamics in Aerospace for 15 years, he became a contractor. He served in the Army during the Korean War. This San Diego Union obituary (below upper left) was published on March 21, 1980.

College photo of Robert Liebner

Bill and Becky Ivans

Here is some background info from Renee S., the daughter of the original owner of the home:

"Bob Liebner designed the house along with my mother, Becky Ivans. Bob was a mechanical engineer and later a contractor who also did designs for owner build projects, even though he was not an architect. My mom came from Glen Ellyn, a suburb outside of Chicago. My parents divorced in 1961 or 1962, my mom remarried William Ivans immediately thereafter and they bought back the home that my mom had left my father in the divorce. We moved back in and friendly relations continued. Bill hired Bob to add the lower floor in 1962 and expand the carport in 1970. I was raised there with my sister Ginny and Dennis and Denise who were born in about 1963 and 1965. You will see from the newspaper article they hosted annual Christmas parties in the house for about 400-500 people. Bill also had a large vegetable garden in the leveled out area in the canyon and they had regular corn dinner parties with numerous card tables set up in the living room. Bill died in 1999 in a glider crash (he was still Chairman of the Board of Cohu Electronics and on several local business boards but was also a world class glider pilot. The passenger who also died in the glider crash with him in his self-launching, high performance glider was Don Engen, then head of the Wash DC Air & Space Museum and previous head of the FAA). Becky continued to live in the house until about 2014, when she moved to independent living at the Vi at La Jolla. Assorted grandkids lived at 807 during this time and we brought her home during her last days due to her love of the home. This clipping has a wonderful photo of Becky and one of her recipes!

Bill (2nd husband) and Becky. Bill was a famous glider pilot who eventually died in a glider crash. Bill worked at Convair, then became Chairman of the Board of Cohu Electronics.

Bill Ivan prepares his Sisu 1A for competition at the 30th National Soaring Championships at Harris Hill, NY in July, 1963.

More info came in May 2024 from Ginny J. the eldest daughter in the Liebner family. She saw the Open Spaces video and wanted to correct some information, especially that Bob Liebner built much more than just our house. We are thrilled to hear this!

"We lived in Montecito while my father built his first custom home on Oak Grove Drive - we had a creek in the back yard. Slate walk into the home where it dead ended into a rock wall with waterfall into a pool - open concept. It was here that my father obtained his General Contractors license, and Architect license. He kept working in the Aerospace industry but built homes on the side. They moved to La Jolla and my dad designed and built the La Jolla Rancho Rd, house. This was his second custom home. The fireplace was an engineering marvel - it heats the room, vents well, and the hanging part never got hot. His design, got awards for it.

My parents divorced. Mom and new husband Bill Ivans bought the LJ Ranch home from my dad, and then he added the downstairs for them. My dad moved to Long Beach area - first in Belmont Shore, where he built a 4 unit condominium and lived in one unit. Then he built two mirror homes in Naples on one of the larger canals. These were designed and built by him. My dad got another job and moved back to the San Diego area - Encinitas. He ended up leaving the aero space industry and became a full time architect and contractor. He built an estimated 8-9 custom homes for clients - several engineering feats like the La Jolla home - also a few spec homes. He built the Encinitas Board of Realtors offices, added an addition to the hospital there.

All his homes had open concept, lots of light and always white carpet. I think my father would have really liked what you did."

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