Some people do what they do simply because they love doing it and it needs to be done, never for a moment seeking any glory. And by all accounts, longtime Puerto Vallarta resident Bernardo Applegate, who spearheaded the development of the south part of town and passed away recently at the age of 93, was just such a man. Says son Morey: “They threw away the mold when my father, a courageous, honest, hard working builder, was born.
“Cultured and forthright, he was extremely creative mechanically, always inventing things. He loved nature — trees especially, and duck hunting with his dogs, and reading tons of books.”
Born in the neighboring state of Nayarit to an American father and Mexican mother, people were constantly surprised to learn he was Mexican, his eyes a striking blue and his English impeccable. Educated as a sawmill engineer in Oregon, where the family fled after the Mexican Revolution, he served as a fighter pilot in World War II.
He later returned to San Blas to be with his dying father, then came to PV by boat in 1954, docking where restaurant La Palapa now stands. And the very next day, he bought the 350 acres that is now Conchas Chinas and proceeded to build some 50 gorgeous homes on it and roads leading to them — he being to Conchas Chinas what developer Fredy Romero was to Gringo Gulch.
Never afraid to stand up for what he believed, he won a lawsuit against the government, blocking it from building Highway 200 right along the shoreline rather than where it stands today. Insisting the residents of Emiliano Zapata have good drinking water, when the government wouldn’t provide it, he did. And he was the first to bring heavy machinery here, flying it in from Guadalajara, then breaking it down into pieces and transporting it by burro and canoe to its destination. Back then, there were no bridges and just one car on few roads. So, he set to work building more and went to Guadalajara to buy what would be the town’s second vehicle.
He leaves his wife, Teresa, and four sons here in Vallarta: Morey, Ivan, Douglas and Roberto, as well as three children in the United States and 10 grandkids. We hear he kept diaries, his life during those golden years of Vallarta so eventful that we hope their contents surface one day so we can learn much more about this fascinating man.