Gierlich sang ‘til the end 

Jim Gierlich played offense and defense on Cal’s championship football team. Photo courtesy of the Gierlich family

Jim Gierlich, Hermosa Beach’s oldest military veteran, passed away last month at age 97.

“He was strong and fit until the end, when a respiratory virus outplayed his final hand. He went out exactly how he wanted to, at home, surrounded by his loving family, daughter Marisa Gierlich told friends, who gathered recently at La Playita restaurant for his memorial.

Gierlich was a member of the 1943 Sea Hawk football team, which won that year’s CIF Championship “Winning the CIF championship is one of the big memories I have from my days at Redondo.” Gierlich said at the inaugural Sea Hawk Athletic Hall of Fame induction in 2013. “I did not start the first game that year, and it was the only game we lost.”

Gierlich went on to play “two ways,” offense and defense, for the University of California Berkeley championship football team. 

Jim Gierlich and daughter Marisa on the Hermosa Beach Pier. Photo courtesy of the Gierlich family

Gierlich was born in Monrovia in 1925, and moved with his family to the South Bay in the early ‘40s when their father Oswald became the City Engineer of Manhattan Beach. Upon graduation from Redondo Union, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. He graduated from Cal with a degree in civil engineering in 1946, and was commissioned to Quantico, Virginia. He retired from the Marine Corp in 1972 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 

In 1968, Gierlich founded his own engineering firm. His long-time secretaries Diane Wall and Jenny Shea often said Jim was a helluva salesman, a decent engineer, and a lousy businessman.”

After retirement in 1985, his two main hobbies became singing, and playing golf, both of which he continued well into his 90s. He frequently sang at Hermosa civic events, and in 2007, at age 82, he recorded his first jazz album, ‘Mr. Jim Sings’ with the Paul Smith Trio. He played golf in Ireland and Scotland at St Andrews, Gleneagles, and Bantry Bay, while learning Irish ballads, and drinking Guinness and Smithwick’s. He loved to say “It’s not how far you drive the ball, but how straight,” meaning it’s not how long you live, but how well. 

Gierlich sat on the board of the Church of Religious Science and earned an honorary doctorate from the ‘Living the Inner Light Foundation’. He believed that “we are all God’s children.”

Gierlich is survived by his sisters Marge Dorman, Betty Bucher, and Del McCormick; his loving wife of 55 years, Jane Gierlich; children Jaimie Mock, James R. Gierlich, Kurt Gierlich, Marisa Gierlich, and Marla Prieto;  grandchildren Gretchen, Natalie, Heidi, and Brittney, and great-grandchildren Olivia, Luke, Avalon, Wiley, Juniper James, and Louie. ER


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