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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


FREDERICK MONROE RENFRO There is no truer saying than that which states that we live in deeds and not in years; in thoughts and not in breaths, and the young men of the West are giving living and convincing illustrations in proof of the above. One of them is Frederick Monroe Renfro, one of the best-known men in Southern California, former secretary of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce and general manager of the National Orange Show, but now general manager of the California Flower Show and Horticultural Exposition, with headquarters at Los Angeles, although he still maintains his residence at San Bernardino. Although his years have been few, his accomplishments in behalf of the citrus industry, and the advancement of San Bernardino would do credit to a man double his age, his recent appointment occasioned no surprise to those who have followed the career of this earnest and determined young man, and while his friends seriously deplore his transferring his energies to another part of the state, they appreciate the fact that his genius needs broader fields of action, and rejoice for him over his promotion.

Frederick Monroe Renfro was born at Springfield, Missouri, January 27, 1887, a son of George Absalom and Belle (Ross) Renfro. George A. Renfro came of Revolutionary stock, and of English and French ancestry in the remote past. His wife belonged to the famous Ross family, to which the celebrated Betsy Ross, the maker of "Old Glory," belonged.

Growing up in his home city, Frederick M. Renfro attended its schools, and following his graduation from them, took a business course in a commercial college. His first position was in a clerical capacity with the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, St. Louis, ^Missouri, and he remained there from 1906 until 1910, at which time he decided to locate permanently in the Golden State, and did so, bringing his family here, and making the change with characteristic courage and faith in himself, for he had no resources aside from his own capabilities. They proved more than equal to the drain upon them, and he has steadily progressed.

Coming to San Bernardino in June, 1910, he occupied himself with whatever came to hand until the following January when he went to work, at a meagre salary, with the National Orange Show Association, and immediately began to display that genius for organization which he possesses in so marked a degree. He was soon made secretary of the association, and held that position during the succeeding four years, and so impressed were his associates and co-workers, that he was at the termination of that four-year period made general manager, holding that office until he resigned it to assume the responsibilities of a much more important one.

It is generally conceded that Mr. Renfro made the National Orange Show what it is, re-organized it, placed it on a sound financial basis, and made the annual shows a brilliant social feature. People from all over the world, and, of course, every Californian, visit these shows each year, and look forward to them with delightful anticipation. The last one with which Mr. Renfro was connected, held February 18 to 28, 1921, was the finest in every detail yet held by the association. His reputation has been firmly established through these shows, and this admirable work has been supplemented and strengthened by his connection with the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce, in which he has held the office of secretary since 1914.

When Mr. Renfro accepted this office there was less than $20 in the treasury, and but a handful of men belonged to the chamber. After he had everything in working order, he left it for a few months, but pressure was brought to bear upon him and he once more took hold of the affairs of the office in 1918, remaining as secretary until he resigned June 27, 1921. Since 1914 he has seen the membership increased to 700, all of the members being enthusiastic in behalf of the chamber, and determined to do all that lies in their power to advance the interests of San Bernardino. There is a substantial balance in the treasury, and every man connected with the organization is his warm, personal friend.

In June, 1921, Mr. Renfro received an offer from the State Nurserymen's Association, sponsoring the exposition to be held at Los Angeles in October, 1921, to act as general manager of the combined California Flower Show and the Horticultural Exposition to be staged at Exposition Park, Los Angeles. At first he refused to consider the project, but finally was induced to accept the offer, and immediately resigned the two positions he had been holding with such efficient capability. The people of San Bernardino, while pleased at the distinction bestowed upon their fellow citizen and the recognition of his ability, entertain the hope that he will return to them and the National Orange Show Association when he has completed the gigantic task before him. Others feel that he is too big a man to be confined to any one locality, and are convinced that further honors await him in other fields.

While he exerts his right of suffrage, voting for the candidates of the democratic ticket, Mr. Renfro has not otherwise taken any part in politics. Likewise he has been too much occupied for many fraternal activities, although he did act for a time as counsel commander of the Woodmen of the World, and in that connection increased the membership of his camp by 100 members. He prizes greatly a beautiful ring which was presented to him by his fellow members when he left that office. He belongs to San Bernardino ' Lodge No. 836, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, San Bernardino Lodge No. 348, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and still retains his membership with the Woodmen of the World. For several years he has been one of the active members of the San Bernardino Rotary Club.

On March 20, 1907, Mr. Renfro was married at St. Louis, Missouri, to Miss Viola Woolford, a daughter of Joseph and Melissa Woolford. Mr. and Mrs. Renfro have a daughter, Virginia Mae, who is a student in the San Bernardino schools.

Mr. Renfro is a man to whom organization comes naturally. He possesses the vision which enables him to look into the future and plan for subsequent events accurately and profitably. A man of such convincing sincerity and singleness of purpose, finds no difficulty in persuading others to fall in line with his plans, and securing their enthusiastic co-operation. Such a man is invaluable in any undertaking requiring executive ability of a high order, where it is necessary to have a clear and accurate knowledge of human nature. Those who know him best realize that his work in connection with the Los Angeles Exposition will but be a repetition of his brilliant successes in San Bernardino, only upon a broader scale, and they predict an overwhelming triumph for him and his associations.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011