by KELLEY GUSICH | photo courtesy of Lisa Arnold


Celebrating a Purposed Life

Jas Arnold, a hiking and environmental enthusiast, called Rancho Peñasquitos home for 29 years. While a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis left Jas wheelchair-bound, he never let the limitations inhibit him from making an impact in other’s lives, or from enjoying his own. A life in PQ provided Jas with many landscapes that he could explore, from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to Balboa Park to his own backyard. Before his passing this Spring, Jas became involved with the Black Mountain Open Space Park Citizens Advisory Committee, and for the past eight years worked on the “Trail for All People.”

The trail is a 1,100-foot flat path with four covered shade structures on the north side of Black Mountain, accessible for people in wheelchairs, young children, the elderly, and for anyone whose hiking may be hindered by more irregular terrain. “Being in a wheelchair didn’t keep Jas from loving the outdoors and wanting to provide access to it for everybody, not just the able-bodied biker or hiker,” shared Mike Kelley, secretary for the Friends of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. “Jas worked tirelessly with me and others on the committee to make the trail happen, as he did for many other projects in the park.”

Married for 35 years, Jas considered his wife Lisa to be his soulmate, caregiver, and best friend. “He was one of the nicest people you would ever meet,” Lisa shared. “Jas was one of the most engaging people I ever knew. He had a wonderful sense of humor and never took himself too seriously.”
Jas had been an avid skier before MS sidelined him, so one of his wishes for the organization National MS Society – for which he also volunteered – was that they’d find a cure and find a way to reverse nerve damage already done. “He never complained even though he had so much to complain about,” said Lisa.

Jas also loved bicycling, hiking, and backpacking, and was always looking for a way for people with disabilities to be able to get a taste of nature. “His persistence and continued work to get the Trail for All People built was truly amazing considering how difficult things had become for him,” Lisa affirmed. “Not only was he my husband, he was my best friend. I am so very proud of him – he loved his family and was proud of us too.”

Rancho Peñasquitos is also proud and grateful for Jas and his contribution to what will be a lasting legacy in the Trail for All People. He will always be a bright spot in the 92129 community.

Name: James “Jas” Arnold
Community: Rancho Peñasquitos
Volunteer Affiliation: Black Mountain Open Space Park Citizens Advisory Committee
Profession: Land surveyor for Rick Engineering; a photogrammetric for 24 years
Family: Wife – Lisa; Daughter – Meagan; Son-in-Law – Dan; Grandson – Smith
Hobbies: Geeking out on the computer, enjoying San Diego, and skiing
Favorite Local Spots: Craft beer establishments, Balboa Park, and San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

Group: Black Mountain Open Space Park Citizens Advisory Committee
Mission: Shepherd the Black Mountain Open Space Park; volunteer opportunities include cleanup projects, habitat restoration, and trail maintenance.
Contact: 858-538-8082;