It’s hard to say whether the greater gift from Ed and Lynn Hogan is the beautiful Gardens of the World they bestowed upon the City of Thousand Oaks or the big-hearted couple themselves, who continue to share their good fortune with others in so many ways.
Written by Stephanie Bertholdo Photo by IRIS SMOOT
Ed and Lynn Hogan, founders of the travel company Pleasant Holidays, may be big kahunas in the travel industry, but that’s not nearly the most striking thing about the Lake Sherwood couple.
What’s most captivating about the Hogans—besides their penchant for sharing their good fortune—is the pair’s passion for the small things. They exude delight for the accomplishments of their children and friends, gush about their pets, and expound upon politics and culture with ease.
“We have a lot of hope in this country now,” Ed remarks.
Yet they’re probably best known—and loved—for one “big” thing they did for the city and people of Thousand Oaks: building the Gardens of the World.
The 4½-acre public oasis on Thousand Oaks Boulevard allowed the Hogans to share their love of foreign locales by nurturing English, Italian, Japanese and French gardens right in their own backyard. The land across from the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Center offered the perfect opportunity for the two to build the kind of gardens they’d come to appreciate as world travelers.
Flowers, trees and stunning landscapes at the Gardens encourage folks to breathe, relax and rejuvenate, something the Hogans believe is necessary for the soul. Concerts and art shows are regularly presented inside the sanctuary.
“I love the summer concerts,” Lynn says, adding that the place is packed during the summer, especially when the Air Force Band performs.
Ed is particularly fond of the Mission Courtyard area of Thousand Oaks’ garden paradise. Thousands of fourth-graders come to the Gardens each year to learn about the missions, he said. “We have an actor play the part of Father Serra, and he fits the bill.”
The Hogans, both 86, have another interest that sparks their passion: animals. And, as is their way, they put their money where their hearts are.
Their Rancho St. Francis project, named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, is located on 22 acres in Hidden Valley. The Casa Pacifica Equestrian Education Program offered there teaches horsemanship skills to kids in crisis to help develop confidence, discipline, responsibility and compassion.
Rancho St. Francis was opened in 2004. The Hogan Family Foundation, the charitable organization Ed and Lynn created, opened a second ranch in 2007. The Camarillo facility focuses on the rehabilitation and care of injured, abused or neglected horses, and offers a safe haven where aging horses can live out their lives comfortably.
The foundation’s horse rescue has captured international attention. While talking about it recently, Ed pulls out his iPad and clicks on a video of him atop a 15-year-old black Friesian horse. The graceful animal was shipped to him from Holland by a movie producer who might have had it euthanized if a proper home hadn’t been found.
To date, the Hogan Family Foundation has rescued 86 horses.
Abused and abandoned dogs are also near to the Hogans’ hearts—that’s why they created Big Paws 4 A Cause. Some of the canines rescued by the organization are later trained as therapy dogs to aid veterans suffering from anxiety, and others are adopted out to families in need of a loving companion.
Not surprisingly, Ed and Lynn have pooches of their own. There’s Cappy, short for Cappuccino, a name that speaks to the chocolate retriever’s flat coat, and Louie, the poodle Lynn won at an auction at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Westlake Village. Their Lhasa apso is called Bunny.
Part of the Hogans’ charm is their ability to chat about many aspects of their lives simultaneously.
While talking about the Gardens, world travel and humanitarian projects, Lynn reveals that she and Ed have renewed their wedding vows three times over the course of their 60-year marriage. She also mentions that she worked as an artist for Walt Disney and painted animation cels for the original “Peter Pan.”
Ed jumps back on his iPad to pull up a photograph of a chicken coop built by a group of Girl Scouts. Their foundation hosted a contest between a local Boy Scout troop and a local Girl Scout troop. The boys created “Tortoise Park,” and the girls built a chicken coop at Rancho St. Francis.
The Hogans loved both projects, but the chicken coop really tickled their fancy.
“It’s the Cadillac of chicken coops,” Ed says with unabashed glee.
Ed’s definition of wealth is threefold. It includes good health, good family and good friends.
“If you don’t have good health you become a burden on your friends and family,” he says. “Respect it, take care of it.
“If you have those three things you’re a wealthy person.” By Ed’s definition, the Hogans have it all.