It was May 2009, three years after his father Clyde’s passing, and Miles Romney, 32, a great-great-grandson of George Romney — brother of the original Miles Romney, who brought the family name to America — was playing a familiar role as Petco Park’s life of the party.
“Wearing a Padres cap and a Padres jersey with the number ‘1040’ on his back, Romney is a favorite to friends and other Padres fans who cheer his antics,” said a news release from the University of San Diego, a Catholic school known for its ties to the local business establishment.
“On this night — and each time he attends a Padres game — Romney was ‘transformed’ into his alter ego, the Dancin’ CPA. He was out of his seat and dancing around to celebrate key moments in the game — such as Scott Hairston’s three-run home run to give the Padres a 6–5 lead in the fifth inning.
“‘I love it,’ exclaimed Romney, who has been a Padres fan since 1987.”
Miles, the release went on to say, “is a 2005 graduate of the master’s program in accounting. At USD, Romney teaches Accounting 202: Principles of Managerial Accounting. Married to Amy Romney, a 2003 USD graduate, Miles is active in USD’s Accounting Society, which made up 50 of USD’s contingent at Monday’s game.”
A 2001 graduate of Brigham Young University, Romney worked for Deloitte & Touche before continuing his schooling in San Diego and becoming a professor. But even with graduate-level financial training, like many Americans, he was caught short by the country’s hard economic times. In March 2011, Wells Fargo Bank filed a Notice of Default regarding the mortgage on a house he owned in San Marcos; the notice said that $15,461.91 was overdue. The debt went unpaid, and a Notice of Trustees Sale was recorded June 28. The next day, records show, the house was sold and the mortgage paid off.
“That was about the home losing about 40 percent of its value and me deciding to go back to school,” Romney said last week during a telephone interview.
Last year, he taught his final class at USD and moved to Lansing, Michigan, the state the late George Romney, Mitt’s father, once governed, to pursue a PhD in accounting at Michigan State. That May, he was invited by the USD faculty to give the school’s annual “last lecture,” an honor bestowed on departing faculty members deemed especially worthy.
The student newspaper reported: “Romney began by satirically describing who he was and what his history at USD had been. Romney then continued to break down his lecture into three main themes, including the quest for excellence, ‘you can’t take it with you,’ and ‘life is short.’
“The lecture took a more serious turn when Romney shared the story of the three major losses he had experienced through the deaths of his father, his son Matthew at two weeks old, and his mother-in-law.
“‘You never know how much time we are going to have,’ Romney said. ‘Why waste it doing stupid stuff?’”
Being a Romney in Salt Lake City has long meant money, influence, and freedom to venture far beyond the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Brother Orson Douglas Romney was blessed with all three. One of 35 children fathered by Bishop George Romney (brother of the original Miles A. Romney), Orson, according to an early biographical sketch, had “holdings in the Co-operative Furniture Company, in which he is a director; the Oregon Lumber Company; and in the Amalgamated Sugar Company, in which he is a heavy stockholder.”
In the 1920s and ’30s, Orson and his wife, Emma Phillips Romney, became year-round regulars at the Hotel del Coronado. No less an authority on San Diego history than Burl Stiff, the late society columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote in April 2006 that the Romneys “maintained a two-bedroom suite at the hotel, traveling between Utah and California by train.”
Orson died at 81 in 1941 in Salt Lake City, but his family often returned to Coronado.
“Their youngest son, Melbourne Romney, and his wife, LaRue Peterson Romney, spent their wedding anniversaries there, sunning on the beach and dancing in the hotel’s ballroom,” wrote Stiff.
“After World War II,” he continued, “Melbourne Romney Jr. brought his bride, Janice McCune Romney, to the Hotel Del for their honeymoon. (The Romneys had given up their suite during the war, so Melbourne and his wife had a room ‘above the kitchen.’ The suite was off the hotel’s courtyard, in the northwest corner.)”
The occasion for Stiff’s take was a small wedding reception held at the Del’s beachfront restaurant for Orson’s great-great-granddaughter, Ashley Ann Romney Farr and her husband, Jesse Farnsworth Woodcox.
“Ashley Ann’s grandmother and grandfather, Janice and Melbourne Romney Jr., were there — they have retired to The Shores in Coronado — and so were her mother and father, Paula and Hal Johnson Farr, and her brother, Taylor Romney Farr. They live in Salt Lake City.”
“‘We were here for our honeymoon,’ Jan Romney recalled. ‘We took the ferry and came over. He had given me a little black Studebaker as a wedding gift. We only spent two nights here — it was too expensive!’
“Her husband added: ‘I paid cash for the Studebaker. It was brand-new, and it cost $1700.’”
According to its company website, the Romney Lumber Company today owns strip malls in Phoenix, Salt Lake, and Lancaster, and a Burger King and billboards in Orange, California, among other investments.
Three of Mitt Romney’s five sons are well familiar with San Diego County and its real estate. In September 2007, the North County Times caught up with Matt, then 35, as his father was making his first bid for the presidency: “All of us are canvassing the country,’ he said outside a Mira Mesa office where volunteers made fundraising phone calls. He mentioned that his brothers were campaigning in Alaska and Florida. ‘We really try to get around and represent my dad as best we can.’...