Phyl Sarber, a former small-town Kentucky girl, says she is living her dream in Coronado. Photo by Kelly Sarber.

When I was growing up in Benton, Kentucky, my dream, when I got big, was to “live in a small
town, by the water with perfect weather next to a big city.”

Before graduating college in Lexington, my two girlfriends and I were recruited to teach elementary school in a “fast-growing military town somewhere in Southern California.”

It was a leap of faith driving across the country, but when we arrived in 1956 by ferry to this enchanted, little island, I knew I had found my dream home that just keeps getting better and better.

Coronado’s isolated geography is unique, with its picturesque ambiance, mostly flat terrain, year-round mild, climate, and the best beach in the world.

The heart of Coronado has always been our community made up of a lot of overlapping social networks.

Because of the military, families were always moving, so it’s in our DNA to be a welcoming place for newcomers.

I have a soft spot in my heart for people new to Coronado and like to make sure they feel at home here.

For me, except for the traffic and certain crowded months, I don’t see a big difference in the
seven decades that I have lived in Coronado.

The beach is still pristine, our neighborhoods warm and inviting”

-Phyl Sarber

The beach is still pristine, our neighborhoods warm and inviting, and we share a small-town ambiance that we love and protect.

Young Navy pilots, SEALS and locals still enjoy local watering holes, except now it’s Costa Azul, Danny’s and McP’s instead of the Officers’ Club, Manhattan Room or Mexican Village – where I met my
husband, John Sarber, (who was a Captain in the SEAL’s/UDT) after being introduced to him on
blind date.

We were married for almost 50 years before he died in 2006.

There is no place as special as Coronado to raise children. Like many young military families,
John and I started having kids pretty quick so that by 1960, we had three kids under four years
old — Kurt, Brant and Kelly; Molly was born in 1969.

Life was idyllic when the kids were growing up”

-Phyl Sarber

We bought our house on Tolita Avenue 1960, and I still live here. Life was idyllic when the kids were growing up; the schools terrific and children had a lot of independence due to safety and ease of biking or walking everywhere.

I am fortunate that my kids moved back to be close to me, although we are still mourning Brant’s
death last February.

Covid actually was a positive because we spent so much time together.

Luckily, I am also close to my grandkids – four girls, Grayson, Emily, Riley and McKenzy and
a grandson, Michael.

Phyl Sarber (center) with family members (L-R) Kelly, McKenzy, Emily and Molly. Photo courtesy of the Sarber family.

Family time is so important, and we have fun together. I can’t seem to go anywhere without knowing someone, which is another reason I love Coronado.

When you live in a small town, it’s easy being spontaneous.

A lot of my relationships go back more than 60 years, and we still play bridge, go to restaurants, take walks and participate in Coronado centric activities.

One of my best decisions was to get into real estate.

“Work never felt like work because most clients became friends”

-Phyl Sarber

Work never felt like work because most clients became friends. When I announced I was going to retire, so many people said they still needed my help that I had to say that the news of my retirement was grossly exaggerated.

End result?

I still dabble in real estate and live vicariously when new people “discover” Coronado.

I love meeting new people and try to connect them to folks that they would have something in
common. Every day I still feel grateful to be here and how lucky I am to love so many people.

As told to Kelly Sarber by Phyl Sarber

Coronado Love Letter will celebrate local residents and why they love Coronado. Contact if you want to submit a story.

More News