Memorial for ‘Merc’ McFarlane

John ‘Merc’ McFarlane at Makaha in the early ’50s with fellow Hermosa Beach surfing pioneers Bing Copeland, Rick Stoner and Mike Bright. Photo courtesy of Susan MacFarlane

John ‘Merc’ McFarlane at Makaha in the early ’50s with fellow Hermosa Beach surfing pioneers Bing Copeland, Rick Stoner and Mike Bright. Photo courtesy of Susan MacFarlane

by Kevin Cody

John McFarlane spent 10 years in a lifeguard tower on Torrance Beach.

“It was the fastest 10 years of my life and my best years as a lifeguard,” he said in 2014, when he was inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of Fame. 

Following his retirement in 1983 McFarlane was presented with the  Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Award. During the presentation, fellow Captain Greg Lee described McFarlane as “epitomizing the perfect lifeguard.”

McFarlane passed away in Dec., 2019 at age 91. Fellow lifeguards will remember “Merc” McFarlane with a memorial at the base of the Hermosa Beach pier, where he learned to surf, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16. The memorial will be followed by lunch at American Junkie. His widow Susan requests that attendees wear masks. There will not be a paddleout.

McFarlane was among the first Californians to surf Hawaii’s North Shore.

From the time he became a Los Angeles County lifeguard in 1951, until a decade after his retirement 32 years later, whenever he had a vacation or a day off, he surfed

To friends who told him  his vacations sounded like a busman’s  holiday, he said, “That’s because you don’t surf.” 

Throughout his lifeguarding years, when his six week vacation rolled around McFarlane chased waves and avoided crowds, first to the North Shore, then Mazatlan, then Cabo and finally Costa Rica.

McFarlane began surfing at 22nd Street in Hermosa during the transition from 100-pound redwood boards to lightweight balsa  boards. ER

 

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