Road dedication to Mel Wilde.
Judge Tim Staffel, left, former Santa Barbara County Fourth District Supervisor Camillo “Mel” Wilde and Aaron Hanke, chief of staff for Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, stand behind a sign that will note the dedication of Constellation Road to Wilde. The retired Army colonel served as Cabrillo HIgh School’s first principal, and he spent more than 30 years serving on the county Assessment Appeals Board. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

A segment of Constellation Road in Vandenberg Village now recognizes a man who considers himself a regular guy. 

However, many others view Camillo “Mel” Wilde, a retired Army colonel, Cabrillo High School‘s first principal and a longtime member of the Santa Barbara County Assessment Appeals Board, differently.

On Tuesday morning, officials and supporters gathered to note the new signs dedicating the road in honor of Wilde. Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson made the nomination, which was approved without comment by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors late last year.

Approximately 40 people, including three of his four children, attended the ceremony held at Eddie’s Grill, where Tim Staffel, a former Fourth District supervisor and retired county judge, filled in for Nelson, who could not attend because of a schedule conflict.

“I am delighted to be here to honor Camillo ‘Mel’ Wilde’s lifetime of service to our community,” Staffel said. “He is truly community-service oriented. He has spent his life dedicated to our area of Santa Barbara County.” 

The decision affects Constellation Road, from Highway 1 to the end of Constellation Road near Cabrillo High School. Constellation will keep its name. The signs read, “Constellation Rd In Honor of Colonel Camillo Wilde First Cabrillo Principal True Public Servant.”

Camillo “Mel” Wilde.
Camillo “Mel” Wilde. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

Wilde retired at the rank of colonel after serving for 27 years of both active duty and with the U.S. Army Reserve

In 1960, Wilde moved to Lompoc, where he began a 31-year career in public education, including being the founding principal at Cabrillo High School.

He assisted in securing a Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund grant at the inception of the CHS Aquarium Project. 

He remained a public school activist in his retirement. 

Additionally, he spent four years on the county Planning Commission and more than 30 years on the county’s Assessment Appeals Board. 

Wilde joked that he was pleased to hear the clapping “because this is a dedication, not a memorial,” and he credited those he served with throughout the years in the military, education and county commissions.

He said road signs typically memorialize first responders or elected officials.

“I’ve never seen a sign for just a plain old guy,” Wilde said, expressing appreciation to Nelson for his leadership.

Until his retirement in July, his service on the county commissions spanned the terms of six different Fourth District supervisors — DeWayne Holmdahl, Dianne Owens, Staffel, Joni Gray, Peter Adams and Nelson.

“Camillo Wilde is a devoted public servant worthy of this road dedication. Constellation Road was selected as the best location because it runs past Cabrillo High School,” Nelson wrote in the nomination. “It is clear Mr. Wilde has committed his life to the betterment of Santa Barbara County and the nation, and it is only fitting to officially dedicate Constellation Road as Colonel Camillo Wilde Road.”

The proposal included letters of support from those who have known Wilde. 

CHS Aquarium founder Dave Long, who also was a teacher and coach at the school, and his wife, Elaine Long, a retired administrative assistant, were among those supporting the dedication of the road.

“Our family is in total support of a Santa Barbara County resolution and street signage honoring Camillo Wilde. … The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors got it right when their resolution of Dec. 7, 2010, recognized him as a true public servant, citizen soldier, educator and community volunteer,” the Longs wrote in a letter.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.