Those who have gone before us pave the way for us today. Their lives and accomplishments leave a legacy for those who come after them. Such was the case with lawyer Roland Swaffield. A famed lawyer, Roland dedicated himself to community service. He created all the horse trails in the community and was also nicknamed “The Squire of Rolling Hills.”
His great-grandson, Rolling Hills resident Robert Bogdonavich, holds his great-grandfather and his great-grandmother, Grace, in the utmost respect. Roland was a trial lawyer for 40 years and a resident of the Peninsula for 15 years. Also known as “Suavefield,” he shaped the future of Long Beach by winning the oil suits. His legacy stands today. The Palos Verdes Peninsula News reported back in the 1960s, “He represented the city against the oil producers, won valuable drill sites and obtained additional rights in the turning basin of the city.” Roland even wrote a softback novel, The Saga of the City of Rolling Hills.
To commemorate Roland, a rock was placed in his honor at Portuguese Bend Road, serving as a memorial of his influence on the community. “A ceremony was held in Rolling Hills back in 1961, dedicating the rock to my great grandfather,” says Robert.
Robert recalls Roland’s life, commenting, “He and my great-grandmother moved here in the 1930s to the property that is at the northeast corner of the Portuguese Bend and Crest Road.” After their kids had grown up, Robert’s grandmother liked the area so much that they moved over to 71 Saddleback Road after World War II.
“That’s where my dad grew up,” he says. Robert has fond memories of seeing his grandparents as a child and is appreciative of his lineage. “My grandfather got the oil rights for the city of Long Beach,” he says. “His daughter, who became Nancy Bogdonavich — my grandmother — married Joe Bogdonavich, who was in the fishing industry at San Pedro. The company was called the French Sardine Company, but he changed it to StarKist Foods Inc.”
Robert moved back to Rolling Hills in 2018, doing an extensive remodel on his backyard and adding a swimming pool, before moving into his home in 2019.
“I’ve been here ever since,” he says. Originally from Palos Verdes, Robert grew up in the Valmonte area, where his mother still lives.
“I went to Marymount College at the top of the hill, followed by a four-year degree at Loyola Marymount University and Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. I’ve been in the restaurant business in the South Bay, and I’m also in the hotel business with my father in Costa Rica,” he says.
Robert is married to Griselda, who went to USC and Long Beach State; she is certified as a Pilates instructor. They are blessed with two children, Penelope (6) and Bobby (3). Griselda’s mother, Esperanza, also lives with them and lends a helping hand with the little ones.
Penelope is in the first grade at St. John Fisher, and Bobby attends Riviera United Methodist Preschool (R.U.M.P.). Penelope is a social butterfly and likes to talk to others. She also loves swimming and her cat named Turbo that she got for Christmas.
“Turbo is a hypoallergenic Savannah cat and looks like a little tiger with spots like a cheetah,” explains Robert. “Penelope loves her cat.” Turbo likes to keep the rats away with her superior hunting skills, as well as lizards.
Everyone also enjoys the constant companionship of their dog named Ramon, a cocker spaniel, and their Yorkie named Lola.
As a family, everyone enjoys going to Catalina Island. “My mom has a house that we’ve been going to since 1982,” says Robert. “We also like to go to Costa Rica for business reasons and to see my father.” Robert used to be a surfer in his younger years and still surfs sometimes when vacationing in Mexico. Golf is a pastime that he enjoys more, which suits him to a tee.
We are honored to feature the Bogdonavich family in this month’s issue! The next time you see the rock in Rolling Hills, remember the significance of the Bogdonavich family. What an inspiration!