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Orangeland RV Resort Owner and California Outdoor Hospitality Pioneer Passes Away at 103

Virginia Welton, a centenarian and pioneering figure in the outdoor hospitality industry, passed away after a brief battle with cancer. 

Welton, who was 103, was a cofounder of the California Outdoor Hospitality Association (CalOHA) and the owner of Orangeland RV Park in Orange, California. 

A remembrance for Welton is scheduled for March 2, reflecting on her significant contributions to the industry. Welton, alongside her husband, Eldredge “El” Welton, launched what would become CalOHA fifty years ago, laying the groundwork for a thriving outdoor hospitality network in California.

Dyana Kelley, CalOHA’s president and CEO, commemorated Welton’s legacy, noting her vibrant spirit and passion for the industry. Kelley’s remarks underscore Welton’s influence and the personal impact she had on those within the community. 

“The industry has lost another hero,” said Kelley. “Many of you will remember Virginia from our birthday zoom tribute at the CalOHA Summit in April of 2022 when she turned 101. Through the magic of technology, we were able to celebrate her life and contributions to the RV park industry while at the same time allowing her to see a room of over 200 people that she helped bring together. “

Welton’s dedication to Orangeland RV Park was evident up until the pandemic, as she remained a familiar presence, engaging with guests and overseeing park operations. Her daughter, Cindy Wimbish, shared memories of Welton’s pride in the park and her continued involvement even after moving in with her daughter due to COVID-19 precautions.

“Mom was quite proud of her park, that as she would say, ‘Papa built’”, recalled Cindy, noting, “Anyone who met my mom in the 50-plus years that Orangeland has been in operation has probably been shown her Orangeland wristwatch and asked if they know of the park.”

Larry Jordan, Orangeland’s general manager, attested to Welton’s daily interest in the park’s occupancy, illustrating her unwavering commitment to its success. 

The Weltons’ role in founding the California Travel Parks Association (CTPA) in 1974, which later became CalOHA, was pivotal in establishing a unified voice for RV parks and campgrounds across the state.

Before their venture into RV parks, the Weltons were involved in the mobilehome park business, owning Val Verde Estates Mobilehome Park since 1959. Their extensive experience and passion for RVing enriched their contributions to the industry, fostering a community of outdoor enthusiasts and park operators.

Virginia Welton’s approach to life, marked by her saying, “I’m not old. I’ve just lived a long time,” reflects her vibrant outlook and dedication to connecting with family, friends, and the broader community through technology and personal interactions.

The upcoming day of shared memories at Orangeland RV Park will honor Welton’s wish for a celebration focused on joyful recollections rather than a traditional service. This event not only commemorates Welton’s life but also serves as a testament to her lasting impact on the campground and outdoor hospitality industry.

Welton’s legacy is a beacon for campground, RV park, and outdoor hospitality operators, illustrating the importance of passion, innovation, and community in creating lasting success. Her contributions have paved the way for future generations in the industry, emphasizing the value of personal connections and a customer-centric approach to business.

As the industry continues to evolve, Welton’s story remains a source of inspiration for campground owners and outdoor hospitality operators. Her dedication to her park, her pioneering role in forming CalOHA, and her commitment to the community set a standard for excellence and innovation in the field.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to cancer research organizations, furthering Welton’s impact by supporting a cause important to her. Virginia Welton’s passing is a significant loss for the campground and outdoor hospitality industry, but her legacy will continue to influence and inspire for years to come.

Featured image via California Outdoor Hospitality Association.

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February 19, 2024 4:28 pm

Did you know Virginia Welton was a trailblazing figure in the RV park industry and a dedicated advocate for environmental sustainability and community engagement? Her hands-on approach to management and friendly welcomes made a lasting impact at Orangeland RV Resort.

February 19, 2024 7:02 pm

Virginia Welton’s commitment to promoting sustainability and fostering a sense of community left a lasting impact on the RV park industry. She’ll be dearly missed.

April 5, 2024 4:23 pm
Reply to  YolandaCrest

You will be greatly missed. Virginia Welton made a profound impact on the RV park industry through her dedication to sustainability and community. We honor her legacy by continuing to uphold these values in our work. Our common passion for outdoor hospitality unites us.

February 20, 2024 12:21 am

Virginia Welton’s groundbreaking achievements have shaped a vibrant and hospitable outdoor hospitality landscape, inspiring countless individuals and businesses. Her impact will be felt for generations, and her legacy will continue to flourish. 🌟

John Clark
John Clark
February 20, 2024 12:26 am

It’s intriguing to learn that Virginia Welton was a trailblazer in the outdoor hospitality industry. She not only owned Orangeland RV Resort but also co-founded the California Travel Parks Association, now known as CalOHA. Her dynamic and committed approach left a lasting impact on the RV community, making her a beloved figure in the industry.

February 20, 2024 10:21 am

Isn’t it delightful that Virginia Welton was a trailblazer in outdoor hospitality? Her dedication to Orangeland RV Park made it a home for countless visitors. Her legacy will inspire future generations. She’ll be dearly missed.

February 20, 2024 2:48 pm

Virginia Welton’s contributions to the RV industry have left a significant impact, and her passion for outdoor hospitality continues to inspire new generations of RV park owners and enthusiasts. As a pioneer in the industry, her dedication to creating a welcoming and vibrant community within the RVing world has set a high standard for excellence and camaraderie. Personally, I believe her legacy will continue to shape the industry for years to come.

April 1, 2024 10:32 am
Reply to  skywalker_jane

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I couldn’t be happier to see how Virginia Welton’s impact lives on. Her dedication is truly inspiring. Her legacy will keep shining bright, guiding us in the great outdoors. It’s like her love for RVing is eternal!


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Orangeland RV Resort Owner and California Outdoor Hospitality Pioneer Passes Away at 103! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/california/orangeland-rv-resort-owner-and-california-outdoor-hospitality-pioneer-passes-at-103/