South Bay 2019 Beach Passings

JoAnn Turk in King Harbor Marina, where she began work in 1976 and became its president in 2004. Photo

1951 to 2019

DK brought music to Suzy’s

DK Kahlo and husband Sal Longo shared many interests. A love of music was at the top of that list, leading the couple to buy Suzy’s Bar and Grill in 2008. DK’s legacy was her passion and support  for musicians. She enabled hundreds of musicians, aspiring and accomplished, to perform locally at Suzy’s. She passed away Jan. 22, at age 68.

JoAnn Turk in King Harbor Marina, where she began work in 1976 and became its president in 2004. Photo

1939 to 2019

Turk was anchor of King Harbor

When the battered Redondo Beach Sport Fishing Pier was closed in early 2018, Polly’s on the Pier owner JoAnn Turk told the City Council, with characteristic gratitude and humility, “You’ve all individually encouraged us, and the city staff couldn’t have been nicer. It’ll be different for us. We hope we can live up to your expectations.” 

Of course, she did. Customers followed the restaurant she and husband Terry had run for three decades across the harbor parking lot to its new location on the International Boardwalk, content to wait for the Sport Fishing pier to be rebuilt and Polly’s to be restored to its rightful place over the water.

But when Polly’s returns to the pier it will be without Turk. She passed away from cancer at her Manhattan Beach home on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at age 80 Her passing marked the further fading away of the World War II generation that built King Harbor and for whom community service was an unshirkable duty.

In 2013, Mayor Mike Gin honored Turk with the Mayor’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Turk’s previous honors included Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year (1998-99) and Chamber Volunteer of the Year (2006-2007). Turked served as president of the Redondo Beach Round Table, and was a co-founder of Cheers for Children, the Lobster Festival, the Redondo Beach Visitors Bureau, and an annual fishing trip for students with severe disabilities.

1931 to 2019

Horn was NCAA Water Polo 

Coach of the Year

Bob Horn, UCLA’s swim coach and water polo coach for nearly three decades, passed away January 11 at the age of 87. The Hermosa Beach resident guided the Bruins to 50 straight wins over five years and coached four undefeated squads before the NCAA recognized water polo as an NCAA sport in 1969. His teams won seven national titles. 

Horn was the 1965 water polo “NCAA Water Polo Coach of the Year” and was honored in 1972 as the “NCAA Swimming Coach of the Year,” He was also a goalkeeper on the US National team at the 1955 Pan American Games, and at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. He then went on to join the coaching staff for the 1968 and 1972 Olympic teams. 

Roger Bacon in 2009, climbing the Vetter Windmill, which he helped restore. Photo by Abigail Miller

1930 to 2019

Roger Bacon seals final deal

Roger Bacon’s civic contributions to Hermosa Beach equaled those of anyone of his generation, as did the enmity he engendered.

“I know I piss people off,” the Trader Joe Shopping Center owner said in a 1997 Easy Reader interview.

In 2000, he raised $40,000 to restore Vetter Windmill in Greenwood Park. A Pacific Coast Highway banner program he created raised over $300,000 for the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation and other Hermosa charities. The banner program provided money for plaques on the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame, which Bacon founded in 2003 to celebrate Hermosa’s surfing history.

“Like President Trump, you didn’t have to admire his methods to admire his energy,” an Easy Reader reporter observed after Bacon’s passing. Bacon died in March, at age 88. — Kevin Cody

1934 to 2019

Reporter Keating joined ECC 

In 1977, after nearly three decades as a newspaper reporter, Mary Ann Keating was invited to interview for the public information officer position at El Camino College.

“I walked into the president’s office and here sat all these people staring at me, asking me all these questions,” she recalled in a 2012 Redondo Beach Patch interview with columnist Katherine Blossom.

“I said, ‘Listen, I have interviewed kings, queens and presidents. But I have never been interviewed. Either you want me or you don’t. Excuse me.’” With that, Keating walked out.

She got the job. Among the people Keating interviewed during her years as a Daily Breeze and Los Angeles Times reporter were President John Kennedy, presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, astronaut John Glenn and celebrities Jackie Cooper, Phyllis Diller, Liberace, Maurice Chevalier, Bob Newhart, Sid Caesar and Glen Ford.

The longtime Redondo Beach resident passed away March 6, at age 85.

1961 to 2019

Seville-Jones balanced life

Sandra Seville-Jones, a planning commissioner and longtime civic stalwart who was also an internationally prominent attorney, passed away March 9 of complications following surgery. She was 58.

Seville served two terms on the Planning Commission, from 2007 to 2012 and from 2017 until her death. She also volunteered with Leadership Manhattan Beach, served on the Hometown Fair Board, and was a key organizer of the biennial City Council candidate forums.

Former councilperson David Lesser, who served on the Planning Commission with Seville-Jones, said she somehow balanced her hometown volunteerism with an extremely high-powered professional life. She was a managing partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, a prestigious law firm best known for its work with the billionaire financier Warren Buffett. 

Bob Brigham in 2002, with yearbooks from his three decades of teaching at Mira Costa High School. Photo by Jerry Roberts

1927 to 2019

Mira Costa’s “Saint Bob” 

Bob Brigham began teaching at Mira Costa High School in 1951, one year after the school opened. Over the next 36 years, he taught history, government, social studies, psychology, typing and driver’s ed. He was also a counselor, sports announcer, and football, tennis, swimming and wrestling coach.

Brigham passed away March 13, in Paso Robles, where he moved in 2005, after having lived in Manhattan Beach since 1939, when he was 12 years old. He was two weeks short of his 92nd birthday..

Of all of his teaching roles, Brigham said in a 2002 interview with Easy Reader reporter Jerry Roberts, “Driver’s training was among the most gratifying…. At most, there were four kids in the car and they were all highly motivated. They wanted to drive. From a purely pedagogic point of view, it was near perfect.”

The insight was characteristic of Brigham’s humility and also his instinct for separating out the  truth among false trappings. The story was headlined “Saint Bob.”

In high school Brigham noticed a city park on prime, oceanfront property on Highland Avenue,  between 25th and 26th streets, in Manhattan Beach.

Brigham’s master thesis at Fresno State, titled “Land ownership and occupancy by Negroes in Manhattan Beach, California” led to Highland Avenue park, overlooking the ocean, being  renamed Bruce’s Park in 2007, after the black family the city took the property was taken from in 1924.

1945 to 2019

Gerold was lifeguard, builder

South Bay builder and former beach lifeguard Chris Gerold passed away March 20 at his Redondo Beach home. He was 74 and suffering from pancreatic cancer. Gerold was known throughout the Beach Cities for his handlebar mustache and driving big trucks with stickers that read NO BAD Days. In the late 1970s, he owned the Golden Nugget restaurant in El Segundo and a door and window business. He subsequently formed Gerold Development, a general contracting business, which he later called NBD. Goat Hill in Manhattan Beach was among his  developments.

1972 to 2019

Valente was avid AYSO coach

AYSO regions throughout the South Bay mourned the loss of long time coach Valente Marin, of Torrance, during a tournament in April at Columbia Park. Marin passed away April 9, at age 47, following a long battle with heart disease, which included two heart transplants.

Marin was born March 22, 1972 and attended Torrance elementary schools and South High, where he played soccer. Childhood friends Rich and Eric described him as a “maniac” on a motorcycle when they raced together at Ascot Raceway. His other passions were snowboarding and wakeboarding. After he and his wife Amee had three children, he turned his attention to coaching AYSO.

1957 to 2019

Angel left it all on the field

There’s a saying in sports about guys who play hard, play for others, and never take a down or an inning off. The same might be said of Easy Reader’s long time sports editor Randy Angel. He left it all on the field.

Angel started work at Easy Reader as a production manager in 1988, and soon became the sports editor. In his younger days as a player, Randy was a third baseman, and in football, an offensive lineman. Those are the least glamorous and most selfless positions in their respective sports. 

This carried on to his reporting. Most of his interviews with coaches were maybe 25 percent about the story at hand. He usually knew their kids, or something about their families, or just generally liked shooting the breeze with them. It was nothing strategic, not a way to get people to open up. It was honest kindness. He passed away in May at age 61.

1954 to 2019

Commissioner Davidson

Jerry Davidson served as Commissioner of the Hermosa Beach Youth Basketball League for over 30 years, as well as a coach for HBYB and AYSO for many years. The advertising photographer passed away unexpectedly, from natural causes, while visiting his family in New Jersey on May 22, 2019. He was 65. Davidson loved visiting his family in his hometown of Margate, New Jersey, but always returned to his home of 36 years in Hermosa Beach.

1946 to 2019

Strack a saucy, creative artist

Artist and Hermosa Beach resident Diane Strack passed away May 30, at age 73. Her work was shown in venues throughout the South Bay. One of Strack’s more memorable artworks was her collaboration on “Queendom” with Patty Grau. This immersive installation piece, with a throne on which visitors were encouraged to sit and survey their domain, was a big hit at the 2017 “CA 101” exhibition and again during “Off With Their Heads” at ShockBoxx Gallery last year.

1954 to 2019

Brennan helped build Aquatics Center

“I had been working for 10 years to get the aquatics center off the ground and I know fourth generation El Segundo swimmers. But none of us had the enthusiasm for an aquatics center that Chris had,” El Segundo Parks and Recreation commissioner Lee Davis said of retired financier Chris Brennan. Brennan helped Beach Cities Swim raise over $30,000 for the El Segundo Weisburn Aquatic Center, making the club its largest non institutional donor.

The Manhattan Beach resident passed away in June from a heart attack suffered during a routine Saturday morning swim at the Aquatic Center he helped get funded. He was 65.

Upon receiving his MBA in 1982, he became a financial analyst with First Boston and then moved to Manhattan Beach and joined Merrill Lynch. He retired from J.P. Morgan, but according to his wife Sippy, he was on the phone every morning at 6 a.m. talking to colleagues in New York. 

1944 to 2019

Van Huisen held court at Bar

South Bay developer and restaurateur Ted Van Huisen, died suddenly on July 6, at age 75. Van Huisen owned Barnacles in downtown Hermosa Beach and often held court there with a long list of friends. Outside of the bar business, he built a reputation as a sharp-eyed developer of properties in the South Bay and the Southern California desert.

In the 1970s, Van Huisen partnered with restaurateur Pat McCauley to open La Paz in downtown Manhattan Beach, on the land where the Strand House is today. Patrons recall it as a legendary bar that showed the rest of Southern California how good a time could be had in the South Bay.

“He was really good at buying land. He knew what was going to be valuable 20 years before anyone else did,” McCauley said.

1959 to 2019

Chief earned accreditation

Former Hermosa Beach Police Chief Greg Savelli, who served from July 2006 to January 2012, passed away in August at age 60.

“When I came to Hermosa Beach in 2006 I spent every Wednesday night in someone’s living room for neighborhood watch meetings,” Savelli said during an unsuccessful run for city council  2013.

“Chief Savelli strengthened our city’s Neighborhood Watch program, introduced our civilian Volunteers in Policing and Crisis Response Team programs, and he re-introduced our Police Chaplain program, horse mounted patrols for special events, and our K9 program,” read a Hermosa Beach Police statement following his death

“In Greg’s five years as police chief in Hermosa he professionalized the force which resulted in formal accreditation,” Former Hermosa Beach City Manager Tom Bakaly said. 

1945 to 2019

Parker devoted to deaf

Parker Hearing founder Lee Parker passed away on Sept. 1, following a long battle with Multiple Myeloma. He was born to deaf parents in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1945 and grew up in Gardena, where he attended Serra High and met his wife Christine Sisson, whom he married in 1966. They raised their daughter and three sons in Hermosa Beach.

After obtaining a masters in speech pathology from Long Beach State, he earned a PhD in audiology from the University of Florida. He subsequently served as the Director of Audiology at the San Francisco Speech and Hearing Center for two years. After several years at Little Company of Mary Hospital, he opened Parker Hearing Institute of Audiology, where he dedicated the next 45 years of his career. In 1979, he and colleague and best friend Phil Burney founded the Palm Springs Hearing Seminar, an annual educational seminar that continues to this day.

1963 to 2019

Hermosa icon “Turkey Jon” Burt

Over the past five decades, “Turkey Jon” Burt was as popular a Hermosa Beach fixture as The Strand, where he rode his bike daily. People who took offense when “Turkey Jon” called out to girls in bikinis, “Hey girls, do you want to go for a swim,” instantly revealed themselves as newcomers.. 

“I wore his heckles as a badge of honor,” California Beach Volleyball Association director Chris Brown wrote on Facebook. 

Burt suffered brain damage during his birth in 1956. His mother Wilma “mainstreamed” him before mainstreaming was a word and never acknowledged her son was different from anyone else.

Manhattan Beach councilman and long time 16th Street Hermosa volleyball player Steve Napolitano said of Burt, “Turkey was a part our beach fabric in a way that nobody who isn’t from here would ever understand, and a good reminder of how we can and should accept the differences of those among us, and celebrate them.”

Burt passed away Monday, Nov. 25 at his Redondo Beach apartment.

Patty Meistrell (right) and Elaine Morgan with their Joe Quigg surfboards. Meistrell and Morgan were among the few women surfers in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Meistrell family

1932 to 2019

Dive N’ Surf matriarch Meistrell

Patty Meistrell passing on Dec. 4, at age 87, marked the end of a dynasty and more sadly, the end of an era,” observed longtime friend Scott Daley.

Oldest son Robbie Meistrell agreed. “My dad and uncle Bill’s businesses wouldn’t have become the successes they did without her,” he said. Bob and Bill Meistrell founded Dive N’ Surf and Body Glove.

The couple’s hospitality at their home in Torrance and aboard their boats in Cherry Cove on Catalina was legendary. Patty and Bob Meistrell bought a modest home in Torrance in the early ‘50s. When their home became too small to host parties for their growing company, they bought the house next door. “We called it the party house because that’s all they used it for,” Ronnie said.

“No matter how many people Patty and Bob invited over, Patty always made sure everyone was having a good time. And she was having the best time of them all,” Daley said.

1928 to 2019

Lifeguard John McFarlane 

Hermosan John McFarlane spent his first 10 years as a lifeguard working in a tower on Torrance Beach. “It was the fastest 10 years of my life and my best years as a lifeguard,” he recalled in a 2014 interview, upon his induction in the Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of Fame. When he retired in 1983, after lifeguarding for 32 years, he was presented with the Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Award. Fellow captain Greg Lee described McFarlane as “epitomizing the perfect lifeguard.” He passed away Dec. 16, at age 91, of issues related to old age.

McFarlane surfed into his late 60s when shoulder injuries made paddling too painful. One day in Mexico his friend Don Anderson paddled over to him and said, “What’s wrong with you? You just let three perfect waves go by.”

“I said, ‘Andy, this is it. It’s not fun anymore.’”

“As I was walking up the beach, I asked one of the kids what the beach was called. I wanted to know because I knew it was the last wave I would ever surf. He said, ‘Playa Hermosa.’”

“It was kind of poetic, don’t you think?” McFarlane said.

 

Comments:

comments so far. Comments posted to EasyReaderNews.com may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.

Be an Easy Reader Free Press supporter!

Yes, we know Easy Reader and EasyReaderNews.com are free. But they are not free to produce. The advertiser model that traditionally supported newspapers is fading away. This is our way of transitioning to a future where newspapers are supported by their readers. Which is as it should be. We hope you’ll support us. — Kevin Cody, Publisher