Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach: Passings 2021

Harry Kuhlmeyer rose through the ranks to chief. Photo courtesy of MBPD

[Editor’s note: The following stories are excerpted from Easy Reader stories about Beach People who passed away in 2021. For their complete stories, go to EasyReaderNews.com]

Kuhlmeyer was a ‘just the facts’ chief

Harry Kuhlmeyer joined the Manhattan Beach Police Department, and rose through ranks to become chief in 1980. Three years later, in August 1983, the frank-talking, low profile chief was presented with the McMartin Preschool case. Therapists and medical doctors identified dozens of McMartin preschool children as sexual abuse victims. Raymond Buckey was the sole male teacher at the preschool. Parents demanded Buckey’s immediate arrest. Kuhlmeyer refused to take Buckey into custody. His detectives could find no corroborating evidence.

“Why hadn’t any of the suspects copped a plea, why no mea culpas, no suicides? No one got drunk and bared his soul. If everything the kids said happened, it looked like the perfect crime. Even the Mafia has snitches,” Kuhlmeyer said at the time.

Kuhlmeyer’s unpopular stance was vindicated seven years and $15 million in court costs later when two McMartin trials ended with no convictions.

Kuhlmeyer passed away Jan. 12, 2021. He was 94.

Boston Lang with actor and martial arts master Chuck Norris. Photo courtesy of the Lang family

Lang was LA schools, martial arts teacher

 In 2009, actor and comedian DH Hughley was invited on CNN to talk about the most influential person in his life. During the broadcast, the star of the ABC sitcom “The Hughleys” and  “The Original Kings of Comedy” recalled winning an apple at a school fair and bringing it home to his mother.

“She took a bite out of it and said, ‘It’s rotten, just like you.’ We both laughed. I was a gangbanger,” Hughley said

“The next day, I told my teacher what my mother had said. He said to me, ‘You’re not rotten. You’re going to be something.’”

“I was this close to never making it,” Hughley said, tearing up as he spoke.

The teacher was Boston Lang, a lifelong Redondo Beach resident who taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for over four decades.

Lang’s father Jim Boston was the principal at Pier Avenue Junior High in Hermosa Beach, and also at Adams Middle School in Redondo Beach. Lang’s wife Jeannette was a founding board member of the Redondo Beach Unified School District.

In addition to teaching in LAUSD, he taught martial arts. Boston received his first degree black belt in 1972 from Chuck Norris, at the actor and martial arts fighter’s Redondo Beach dojo.

One of the 10 precepts he taught his martial arts students was “Don’t be afraid to get hit. Lang competed throughout his life and was a four time Seniors Division United Fighting Arts Federation Grand Champion.

Lang passed away January 3, 2021. He was 72.

Former Mira Costa and El Camino baseball star Dundee Lee Jones enjoyed tying flies and pulling them off his hat to give to strangers. Photo courtesy of the Jones family

Dundee Lee Jones

Dundee Lee Jones was a standout baseball player at Mira Costa Highand a power-hitting first baseman at El Camino College. After being drafted by the Washington Senators, he played two seasons in the minor leagues and then became the Hermosa Rec Department’s Beach Little League coordinator.

In 1968, he accepted a job as a recreation supervisor with the City of Las Vegas, and moved his family to the Las Vegas Valley (though he kept his Hermosa Beach home). In 1973, the City of Henderson named him its Director of Parks and Recreation, a position he held until he retired in 1997. Under his leadership, Henderson became a model in the U.S. for Parks and Recreation departments. The Dundee Award is the highest award given by Nevada Recreation and Parks Society. The City of Henderson recognized Jones on June 14, 2017 and dedicated the Burkholder Baseball Fields, which have been officially named the Dundee Jones Baseball Complex. ER

Jones passed away Jan. 12. He was 84.

George was a renaissance man

Rob George was recalled by his family as economist, engineer, author, scribbler, songwriter, poet, Hoosier, Californian, jazz fan, curmudgeon, comedian, sailor, runner, bicyclist, swimmer, body surfer, rower, triathlete, race organizer, dog tolerator, dog lover, cat tolerator, cat lover, ice cream zealot, margarita enthusiast, rum connoisseur, and pacifist.

When not on his sailboat he could most often be found at his oak, roll-top desk, where he would create delicate pieces of shell art, complex mobiles, and write, all in service of his life’s work of attempting to improve the quality of life and reduce the suffering of the entire population of “Spaceship Earth. His books, Common Sense II and Socioeconomic Democracy, offer a blueprint for an alternative economic system.

George passed away Jan. 28. He was 89.

Georgia Spencer attended Dorsey and taught in Torrance. Photos courtesy of the Spencer family

Teacher Spencer a Hermosa activist

Georgia Spencer taught in the Torrance Unified School District for 25 years and was a decades-long member of the Hermosa Beach Historical Society and Museum and the Hermosa Beach Sister City Association. She sailed, swam, played the piano, traveled and played bridge.

Spencer passed away in January. She was 91.

February

Noel Palm, father of 5, grandfather of 10, great-grandfather of 10, and husband of 71 years, passes away. Photo courtesy of the family

Palm believed in service

Noel Palm’s priority was his large and boisterous family, which always included a variety of pets. He strongly believed in contributing to his community. He served on the South Bay Union High School District Board for 16 years and was a founding member of the Free Clinic in 1969. He sang in the Manhattan Beach  Community Church choir for many years, served as Church Moderator, and fulfilled other instrumental roles during his 35-year membership.

Noel and his wife Sally turned 90 the year of their 70th wedding anniversary, in 2019. They celebrated their anniversary  at the Manhattan Beach home on 9th Street that they bought in 1960, and where they’d raised five kids. All five kids were at the party, as well as most of their 10 grandkids and nine great-grandkids. 

“Try to help,” Noel said. “Do something for others,” he taught his children.

Palm passed away Feb. 7, 2021. He was 92.

Roberta Hesketh Seawright Quigley driving the 1953 MG she brought home from Europe when her husband was stationed in Germany. She drove the car in the Beach Cities for the next 50 years. Photo courtesy of the Seawright family

Seawright-Quigley a true Daughter of Hermosa 

Roberta Hesketh Seawright Quigley was born in Hermosa Beach and attended South School Elementary and Pier Ave. Junior High. She was in the first freshman class at Mira Costa High School and illustrated the Hoofprints Yearbook, which won an award winner that year.

Shortly before she graduated in 1956, Roberta met her first husband, Ron Seawright, who was on leave from being stationed in the Army in Germany. Ron was also a Hermosa Beach native whose family lived just a block from Roberta’s. They wed at St. Cross Church in Hermosa in 1957 and soon left for Germany to live near his Army base. Roberta and Ron enjoyed their time in Germany, traveling around Europe in their 1953 MG. They shipped their MG home when they returned to Hermosa Beach in 1958. For the next 50 years, Roberta drove her beloved MG around the South Bay.

Roberta enjoyed many of her happiest times in her later years in Manhattan Beach with her second husband. One of her greatest joys in life was being “Nana” to her eight grandchildren

Seawright Quigley passed away Feb. 10, 2021. She was 82.

Stichter was Manhattan’s oldest resident 

Anita Koontz Stichter lived in Manhattan Beach for 92 years, longer than any other resident. She was born in Portland, Oregon on Nov. 12, 1918, the day after the Armistice Agreement was signed, ending World War I. Her family moved to Manhattan Beach when she was 10.

She graduated from  Redondo Beach High School in 1936, where she was part of the Peppy Steppers, who remained friends throughout their lives. 

After WWII ended, Anita and her husband Bob became founders of the Manhattan Beach Tennis Club at Live Oak Park. The highlight of the club was its monthly potluck dinners usually held in the couple’s backyard. Dues were 25 cents.

Stichter volunteered for 25 years at the old South Bay Hospital and for several years at the Thrift Store downtown Manhattan Beach. She was a vocal member of the “Save the Pier” movement, and a “living source of information” at the Manhattan Beach Historical Society.

Stichter passed away Feb. 16, 2021. She was 102 years old.

 

Mike Eaton (far left) and Phil Becker (in straw hat) with fellow Peninsula surfers, Eddie Clark, Ricky Burns, Richie Clark, Jared Eaton and Frankie Shinn at the end with the zinc oxide nose. The picture was taken at Bluff Cove by May Clark, Eddie’s wife, around ‘54 or ‘55, according to the Eatons’ sister Ann (Eaton) Medve. Photo courtesy of Steve Mangiagli

Pioneer shapers Phil Becker, Mike Eaton

Phil Becker and Mike Eaton grew up in Palos Verdes, across the street from one another, and retired near to one another on the Big Island of Hawaii. During the Gold Era of Surfing, the lifelong friends became two of surfing’s most celebrated shapers.

Eaton and Becker were among the few shapers from the ’50s balsa board era to transition to the polyurethane longboard era in the ‘60s. And among the still fewer longboard era shapers to transition to the shortboard era in the ‘70s. Then, in the ’80s, Eaton and Becker led the resurgence in longboarding and also introduced the midsize “fun board.”

Shaper Phil Becker and glasser Steve Mangiagli examine one of their boards at the Hermosa Beach Becker store. Photo by Mike McIntire.

“Phil’s thousands of mid length boards brought more joy, and stoke to more people than any of the hot young-gun shapers,” Encyclopedia of Surfing’s Matt Warshaw said, upon learning of Becker’s death.

Becker began shaping boards in his family’s garage during his teens, with guidance from pioneer surfboard shapers Hap Jacobs and Dale Velzy.

Eaton began shaping boards with Jack O’Neill, founder of O’Neill wetsuits, when he was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Santa Cruz.

In 1961, Rick Stoner, another early Peninsula surfer, opened Rick’s Surfboards in Hermosa Beach and hired Becker to be his shaper. 

Becker subsequently asked Eaton to help him shape for Rick’s. At the same time Eaton started shaping for Bing Surfboards. In 1972, Bing sold to Gordon and Smith in San Diego. Eaton moved south and continued shaping Bing Boards until he opened his own shop in San Diego in 1978. Becker opened Becker Surfboards in Hermosa Beach in 1980, with another Peninsula surfer, Dave Hollander, and Steve Mangiagli, of Hermosa Beach.

Mike Eaton paddles a board he shaped to the finish of the 32 mile Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race in 2005, at age 70. Easy Reader file photo

When not shaping surfboards and surfing, Eaton shaped and raced paddleboards. 

“Even paddling for a few miles gets you out on the water and divorces you from civilization,” he told Easy Reader newspaper in a 2000 interview, after competing in the 32-mile Catalina Classic paddleboard race. He first paddled the Classic in 1995 with his friend Bob Hogan, who had founded the race in 1955. He last paddled it in  2005, at age 70. When asked about finishing last, he answered from the perspective of a lifelong waterman: “There are only two positions in the Catalina Classic. First and finish.” 

Like a modern day John Henry, Becker never gave ground to the surfboard shaping machine.

“They’re great for doing 300 or 400 identical boards. But they stifle creativity and I don’t like to compromise. We do custom work,” he said in a 2005 Easy Reader interview.

“Because every surfer is different and every wave is different, every board should be different,” he said. 

Becker passed away Feb. 25. He was 81.

Eaton passed away seven days later. He was 86.

Scott Anderson with a quiver of mid-range boards, which he helped to popularize. Photo courtesy of the Anderson family

Anderson was low profile, renowned shaper

Scott Anderson was a teenager in his mother’s garage when he plugged in a planer for the first time. He eventually fell under the tutelage of the Venice Beach surf scene, working with Lance Carson, Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom of Dogtown and Santa Monica Airlines, Robbie Dick, and the Natural Progressions surfboards. 

He Anderson opened Aquatech in Marina Del Rey in 1988 to manufacture his own boards and other local labels.  

Gentrification eventually overtook the original Aquatech and Anderson moved the entire operation to Hermosa Beach. It was an easy transition because Aquatech was the go-to glass shop for ET Surfboard’s Pat Ryan. Before “mid-length,” and “hull” became a thing, Anderson carried on the tradition of the displacement hull, a style of surfboard that was first laying animal tracks in Malibu during the shortboard revolution of the late ‘60s. The hull was succeeded by many different shortboard concepts, yet remained revered by a tight knit crew of diehards. 

“He was an under-celebrated,top shaper and helped bring the ‘mid-range’ mini log industry we are all chasing to fruition,” Sypder Surf’s Jarvis said.

“So if you’re riding a mid-length, you should tip your hat and give a shout to this very humble, talented craftsman,” Jarvis said.

Anderson died in February 2021. He was 57.

March

Bob Peterson played French Horn for the Beach Cities Symphony for 70 years. Photo courtesy of the Peterson family

Peterson lays down his horn

Bob Peterson played the French Horn with the Beach Cities Symphony during its first rehearsal in 1950, and durings its last, pre-Pandemic concert, in November 2019, at age 99. His boys marching band performed for the Los Angeles Olympics Opening Ceremonies in 1932.

Also in 1950, he joined the Hermosa Beach Rotary. From about 1980 until 2018, he and fellow Rotarian Mick Felder delivered Meals on Wheels for the Salvation Army every Tuesday. Their deliveries ended when Felder died in a motorcycle accident, at age 83. “Mick always drove,” Peterson, who was then 97, said following the loss of his friend. 

Peterson passed away on March 5. He was one month short of his 100th birthday. 

Shurley ‘knew no strangers

Michael Shurley was known as the “Mayor of 26th Street,” and a man who “knew no strangers,” to the 26th Street, Manhattan Beach, Ohana surfers. Prior to a paddleout in his memory, the California State Honor Guard presented the American flag to his wife Lisa, in recognition of his nearly three years with the 5/7 First Air Cavalry in Vietnam He fought during the TET Offensive and for the liberation of the city of Hue. Following Vietnam, he worked as a pipefitter for the Gas Company, and became its Director of Labor Relations.

In 2008, his surfing, and Vietnam experiences led him to volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, which offers ocean therapy to the Wounded Warrior Battalion, West, at Camp Pendleton.

Shurley passed away on March 18. He was 72. 

El Camino College players carry John “Coach Feather” from the field upon his retirement in 2015. Photo by Brad Jacobson

‘Coach Feather’ inspired success

John “Coach Feather” Featherstone led the El Camino College football team to a national title, two state titles, and 11 conference championships during his 31 years as the school’s head coach.

Scott Sellars, a member of El Camino’s 1987 national championship team, recalled, “I never played in a game. But John always called me by my name and always made sure I felt  part of the team.”

The lifelong Manhattan Beach resident was an equally formidable volleyball coach and player. “John was just 5-foot-9. But he hit straight down, like he was 6-foot-9. That’s how he lived his life,” recalled Calvin Guillory, whom Featherstone introduced to beach volleyball after the former El Camino College tight end suffered a career-ending vertebrae fracture at Kent State.

At Mira Costa, Featherstone competed in track and field, baseball, volleyball and football.

As a junior, at San Diego State University, the third stringer receiver helped his team win the 1969 Pasadena Bowl.

“I had a dream the night before the game about playing in Pasadena and having a good game,” Featherstone recalled. “Our star receiver, Tommy Reynolds was injured and our second-string receiver pulled a hamstring in warm ups, so I was thrust into the starting role.”

Featherstone scored two touchdowns in the Aztecs’ win in front of 52,000 fans and was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player. 

Featherstone passed away in March 2021. He was 71.

April

John Simon last year at Noble Park,on a bike he restored. Photo by Kevin Cody

‘Handyman’ John 

John “Handyman” Simon moved to Hermosa from Port Vue Pennsylvania in the late ‘60s and became a walking encyclopedia of Hermosa history from that era. He worked at Robinson Helicopters, and, in 1968, helped Mick Felder open his Hermosa Beach body shop. In later years Simon applied his encyclopedic knowledge of how things work to repairing everything from autos, and bicycles to household appliances for friends and neighbors. 

Simon passed away in April 2021. He was 73. 

Manhattan Beach attorney Walter Urban agreed to represent McMartin Preschool teacher Betty Raidor when other local attorneys refused to become involved in the controversial case. Photo courtesy of Lisa Muller

Urban explored all the options, fearlessly

In early 1984, when seven McMartin Preschool teachers were charged with 207 counts of child molestation, all of the defendants claimed innocence, including longtime teacher Betty Raidor. Nonetheless, Raidor’s attorney, Manhattan Beach attorney Walter Urban, approached the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office about the prospect of a plea bargain.

The other teachers and their attorneys were furious at this perceived break in ranks.

When asked by reporters if he was conceding his client was guilty, Urban responded matter of factly, “No. But it is my duty to explore all the options.” (Charges against Raidor and four of the other seven were dropped, but not until two years after their arrests. Preschool owner Peggy Bucky and her son were tried, but not convicted.)

Urban’s laconic response was characteristic of the 6-foot-7, sometimes laconic, but always cerebral criminal defense attorney who read four newspapers a day and served as the Chief Deputy Consul of the General Republic of Palau before opening a law office in Manhattan Beach in 1984.

Urban passed away on June 5, 2021. He was 76. 

May

Charlie Byrd at work in Charlie’s Kitchen. Photo by Kathleen Fisher

Charlie’s loses its namesake

Charles Byrd co-owned and operated Charlie’s on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach since 1992. 

“Food was his passion, and it was all a reflection of his family recipes. He loved a good pastrami, he made a great hot dog, a great steak, and he had his own recipe for tuna salad. That was Charlie, very down to earth, very simple, focused on the things that worked for him,” recalled friend and partner Steve Roberts

Byrd could be outspoken when dealing with customers. Roberts remembers a customer telling his partner, “There’s a hundred Italian restaurants in this area I could go to.” Byrd shot back, “No there aren’t, there are 99.”

Byrd died May 27, 2021.

Vinnie Tattu modeling for a Newsweek magazine story about California Beach Culture in the late 70s. Photo courtesy of the Tattu family. Photos by Kevin Cody

Tattu was model for California beach lifestyle

In a 1970s Newsweek photo accompanying an article about California beach culture, a teenage Vinnie Tattu skateboards on The Strand, wearing sunglasses, and a purple and yellow wetsuit. He is carrying a surfboard and being towed by his dog.

Tattu was a model, but he was playing himself in the photo. He grew up on 16th Street, ground zero for the California beach culture.

“He skated, surfed and played volleyball. Except for modeling and working as a waiter at La Playita and Charthouse, I don’t think he ever had a regular job,” Vinnie’s brother Tim said.

Tattu passed away, June 13, 2021. He was 59. 

Greg Noll shares a story with Hap Jacobs during their 2003 Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of Fame induction. Pioneer inductee Leroy Grannis is at Noll’s right. Photo by Kevin Cody

Da Bull was Da Bull

Greg Noll  was one of five surfboard shapers from the 60s Golden Era of Surfing, who were inducted in the inaugural 2003 Hermosa Beach Walk of Fame ceremony. The other board builders inducted that day were Hap Jacobs, Bing Copeland, Rick Stoner and Dewey Weber.

Of the five board builders, Noll looms largest. He was 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. He rode the biggest waves, built the biggest surfboard factory, and promoted himself relentlessly by producing surf films, publishing surf magazines, and enlisting surf cartoonist Rick Griffin to illustrate his adventures.

“Boorish but charismatic,” is how Encyclopedia of Surfing editor Matt Warshaw begins his Noll entry. 

Noll began surfing and shaping surfboards in his early teens. His mentor was Dale Velzy, who shaped and sold balsa surfboards underneath the Manhattan Beach pier, and is credited with opening the first surf shop, up the street from the pier.

In 1954, at 17, Noll dropped out of Mira Costa High school, and moved to Hawaii, where he was the only haole among 1,700 Hawaiians at Waipahu High School. 

Phil Edwards, the first surfer to ride Pipeline, gave Noll the nickname Da Bull for his pioneering big wave surfing at Waimea and Makaha. Like Pipeline, the waves were previously thought to be unrideable. 

Noll attempted to make the transition with a new shortboard model. But his disdain for shortboards was evident in the name he gave it — the Ironing Board. 

Noll passed away June 28. He was 84.

Joe Cunningham was a beloved fixture in downtown Manhattan Beach . Photo by Kevin Cody

Cunningham a quiet giant

To his friends, Joe Cunningham will be remembered as the water polo player who led Mira Costa High School to the Number 1 National Ranking in 1977, and the Gillis Body Surfing Club star who won two World Body Surfing titles in his age group. To other Manhattan Beach residents, Cunningham will be remembered as the quiet, bearded giant who spent hours each day in a chair he stashed at the beach, staring at the ocean from the pier parking lot. Strand residents employed him as a handyman, and he accepted offers of coffee and food. But he never asked for anything. Cunningham passed away in June 2021. 

Lars Jacobsson at his Jama Autohouse in 2019. Photo by Kevin Cody

Jacobsson ran Club Jama like a family

Lars Jacobsson opened Jama House on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach in 1983. Over the following four decades, he developed what became known as Club Jama, whose members included grandparents whose grandchildren became his customers.

The former Porsche rally car driver grew up in Sweden, in a family of race car drivers. He fit the stereotype of the stoic Swede, until the subject turned to cars, And then customers might find themselves learning more about their car than they wanted to know. That same Swedish disposition drove Jacobsson to continue working, while hiding from his family of customers that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer two years ago. 

Jacobsson passed away in June 2021.

Hermosa Beach resident Jeff Woods died in July, following an altercation at 16th Street and Hermosa Avenue. Easy Reader archive file

Woods passes following assault

Jeff Woods attended Huntington Beach High School, and UC San Diego, where he was active in student government. The Hermosa Beach resident subsequently served as a production manager, most recently with Jon Goldberg Films and Public Record TV. He enjoyed backpacking, concerts, and sailing, and was a member of the Redondo Beach Yacht Club. He was daily injured by an alleged assault on Hermosa Avenue. 

Woods died July 3, 2021. He was 50.

August

Allard was longtime local teacher

Sue Leonard Allard,Sue taught in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, at Grandview and Meadows elementary schools for 37 years, from1969 to 2008). Upon retirement, she served  as a Manhattan Parks and Recreation Seniors Commissioner and was active in the Older Adults program through the City of Manhattan Beach. The Manhattan Beach City Council adjourned its September 14 city council meeting in her memory.

Allard passed away August 27, 2021. She was 74.

September

As evident in this self portrait, Wilfred Sarr refused to take himself seriously.

Sarr painted his vision

When Wilfred Sarr arrived in Hermosa Beach in February of 1962 The Lighthouse Café was blowing hot with some of the finest jazz musicians of the era; poets and philosophers wafted in and out of the Either/Or Bookstore just up the street; and the short-lived but long-remembered Insomniac Café was home to every assortment of artist. 

“There were a lot of artists in the South Bay,” Hare said. “So many of them, in fact, that what really ought to be explored is how the LA art style was really generated in many ways from Hermosa Beach” 

Sarr had ambitions when he moved into a little house on the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Eighth Street. 

“I had envisioned really taking over the town,” he said. “I was going to be the artist laureate of Hermosa Beach. It didn’t happen.” 

Others aren’t so certain. Longtime Hermosa Beach art collector Maggie Moir said, “Wilfred is truly our Van Gogh.” 

“He is determined to do it his way, and I think that was the same with Van Gogh,” said Richard Stephens, a painter and curator at Cannery Row Studios. “Van Gogh saw things differently, and just did it because that is all he knew how to do. Wilfred is the same way – he sees things differently, and he paints it the way he sees it. He never tries to fit in with anything.” 

“I think Wilfred will be one of those people, in a 100 years, they will know who he is,” Stephens said. 

Sarr passed away in September 2021. He was 86.  

Tim Ritter passes the finishing buoy at the Manhattan Beach pier during the 2002 Catalina Classic. Photo by Ray Vidal

Ritter was old school, all in paddler

Tim Ritter rescued competitive prone paddleboarding from near extinction when he founded the Hennessey Paddleboard Race Series in the early 1990s. Longtime friend Derek Levy called him the Johnny Appleseed of paddling.

The former Mira Costa High School football player, wrestler and shot putter was an old school, gut it out athlete.

“I’ll never forget the advice he gave me when I started paddling,” fellow paddler Scott Rusher recalled. “Paddle as hard as conditions allow. All out, the whole way.”

While other paddlers consumed Gu, and sipped electrolytes from their water bottles during races, Ritter ate chocolate doughnut holes, recalled Jim Cowherd, who escorted Ritter on most of his Catalina Classic races. 

“One year at the R10 Buoy, I played a Sammy Davis Jr. CD of the “Candyman” to get him fired up. He looked over at my boat with a big smile, and said “Groovy man, groovy.” 

Ritter passed away in September, 2021. He was 60 years old. ER

October

Flip Coca was Lakers owner Jerry Buss’ personal assistant for over 20 years. Photo courtesy of the Coca family

‘Flip’ Coca was Lakers playmaker

Phillip “Flip”  Coca grew up in the Manhattan Beach tree section, and graduated Mira Costa in 1981. He loved skateboarding, surfing, and basketball. The avid Lakers fan was an early season ticket holder at the Great Western Forum. That enthusiasm led to a career with the Lakers organization. Coca served as Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss’ personal assistant for over two decades. A 2001 Los Angeles Times article about Buss notes that on game nights, “Buss’ personal assistant, Flip Coca, distributes the passes for the Chairman’s Room, making him the second-most powerful man in the suite.” 

Flip passed away Monday, October 11 at the age of 58.

Walt and Barbara Dougher in 2007 The couple married in 1957 and raised four sons in Manhattan Beach. Photo by Kevin Cody

Dougher was MB’s doer

On March 3, 1999, one day after Walt Dougher was elected to the Manhattan Beach City Council, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce asked him to serve as its interim CEO.

Dougher said yes, though even he acknowledged there was an appearance, if not an actual, conflict of interest. But Dougher’s decision in the politically correct community elicited barely a ripple of controversy.

“I will leave it to Walt’s judgment whether he thinks there is a conflict. I think he is capable of making that decision,” then Mayor Steve Napolitano said.

Throughout decades of community service, Dougher’s reputation was above reproach.

During his first Council election, he finished first or second in each of the city’s 10 electoral districts, in a field of 11 candidates.

He had served as the Chamber’s interim director two years earlier. He had also served as president of the Redondo Beach Chamber, and on the Manhattan Planning Commission, the Los Angeles County Beach and Veterans commissions, the boards of Manhattan Arts, Salvation Army, and Sister City. After leaving the council he was appointed to the Beach Cities Health District board.

“I don’t know how to say n-n-n-n-o,” he told an Easy Reader report on his retirement.

Dougher passed away in October 2021. He was 86.

November

Alphonso Gallegos was popular member of the Hermosa Beach Public Works Department. Courtesy photo

Gallegos held yard together

“He was the glue who held us together, a born comedian,” a fellow Hermosa Beach Public Works worker said of Alphonso Gallegos. The street maintenance crew member began working for the city in 2017. 

Gallegos passed away Nov. 6. He was 46.

Lance Widman with El Camino College Trustee Bill Beverly and fellow El Camino Professor Art Virge in 2016. Photo by Kevin Cody

Widman kept his sense of humor

Lance Widman served for two terms on the Hermosa Beach city council, from 1974 to 1982. He planned to run for a third term until a city hall official said she wouldn’t vote for him again because he was losing his sense of humor.

“I loved being on the city council, but it wasn’t worth losing my sense of humor. You can’t be a teacher if you don’t have a sense of humor, and I wasn’t ready to retire from El Camino,” he said. Widman taught government at El Camino for 45 years. Upon retiring from teaching in the early 2000s, he served two terms on the Hermosa School Board.

Widman passed away November 24, 2021. He was 76.

December

Hap Jacobs at Haleiwa, Hawaii. Photo by Leroy Grannis

Jacobs was surfing’s senior statesman

Hap Jacobs was the inaugural inductee into the Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of fame in 2003 for reasons obvious to all who know surfing history. He was not only one of the most highly regarded shapers during surfing’s Golden Era, he was among the sport’s most respected senior statesmen. He learned to shape during the balsa era in 1953 from pioneer board builder Dale Velzy and soon opened his own shop at 422 Pacific Coast Highway. Surf publisher Steve Pezman called it Notre Dame of surf shops because of its gallery-like design. When he closed the shop in 1971, at the start of the shortboard revolution, he took a Skil Saw to his artfully crafted longboards so they would fit in a dumpster. “No one would ever buy a longboard again,” he told local surfer Joey Lombardo. Jacobs became a commercial fisherman, but returned to shaping during the longboard resurgence in the early 90s.

He shaped is last board in April 2019, at age 88. Jacobs passed away at his Palos Verdes home on Dec. 19, 2021 at age 91. ER

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