Reporter’s Notebook: Pacific Beach spirit uplifts couple on wedding day


Reporter’s Notebook

By Savanah Duffy, staff writer

I just finished writing the article about Rose Creek Cottage’s new operators Letizia and Frank Gaxiola and their remodel of the PB’s historical event destination (see “Icing on the Cake: New proprietors give Rose Creek Cottage make-over”), when Letizia reached out with an incredible story about a bride-to-be with stage IV synovial sarcoma (a rare type of soft-tissue cancer) and how the community came together to give Rachel Lopez and her fiancé Thomas Simpson the wedding they dreamed of.

Rachel (formerly pursuing a dance degree at Grossmont College before receiving her diagnosis) and Thomas (a Petty Officer Second Class in the U.S. Navy) got engaged Oct. 13 while on a family vacation in Hawaii.

They decided to get married quickly at Rose Creek Cottage before Rachel’s chemotherapy treatments began. Apprised of their situation, Letizia reached out to PB Town Council president Brian White to see if he could rally civic leaders behind the couple.

White tapped into the PB community’s spirit and immediately, responses came pouring in from restaurants, hotels and businesses with a heart to serve.

“Pacific Beach is amazing,” Letizia said on the phone. “People get together and they work to make things happen. I’ve never encountered a community that is so close.”

Rose Creek Cottage hosted the wedding and reception for Rachel and Thomas on Halloween. Rachel’s bridal look was orchestrated by Karla Henry of Hair By Karla, with makeup by Marissa Loren of Beauty Unleashed.

A potluck reception was put together by Rachel’s foster parents while Pueblo restaurant treated the couple to a honeymoon dinner. TOWER23 Hotel donated a honeymoon suite. Photography by Carl Bringas captured the once-in-a-lifetime moments.

The complimentary wedding was pulled off in just nine days. Still, duty called shortly thereafter, and Thomas had to ship out with the Navy.

Our heartfelt congratulations, Rachel and Thomas! Cheers to love! Cheers to the PB community!

• Have a PB news tip or story idea?

Call PB Monthly editor Susan DeMaggio at (858) 875-5950 or e-mail the details (and a photo if possible) to The deadline for the December issue is Nov. 18.