Bronze lifeguard memorial to be unveiled, dedicated May 23
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May 15, 2013 | 4765 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A bronze memorial statue and memorial to lifeguards past and present and a set of 13 drowning victims in 1918 will be unveiled and dedicated at the Ocean Beach lifeguard station on Thursday, May 23.                Courtesy
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After three years of planning and fundraising, a bronze lifeguard memorial will be dedicated at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 23 at the Ocean Beach lifeguard station at the foot of Santa Monica Street.

Mayor Bob Filner and San Diego City Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Lorie Zapf will participate, along with community leaders, junior lifeguards and lifeguards. The one-hour program will feature a selection of musical reflections and remembrances, including a lifeguard memorial paddle-out.

The public is invited.

“Robert Baxley, a former Ocean Beach lifeguard, respected waterman, author and judge provided the vision for the establishment of the lifeguard bronze,” said Jeff Hatfield, president of the San Diego Lifesaving Association, which is sponsoring of the project.

In 2010, a task force was created, led by former lifeguard Lt. Neil Moyer, Jim “Mouse” Robb, Julie Klein, Richard Arnold, Lt. Greg “Buc” Buchanan and former City Councilman Byron Wear to organize the project.

“The lifeguard bronze is the first phase of a larger renovation of the waterfront of Ocean Beach being planned by the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation, including a relocated Veterans Memorial on the northern edge of the greenbelt at Abott and Newport streets,” said Wear, who coordinated the effort.

Faulconer and Zapf provided $20,000 from their community projects, programs and services funds and the San Diego Lifesaving Association raised $30,000 from private fundraising. The San Diego City Commission for Arts and Culture approved the project in February.

The artist for the project is Richard Arnold, a 1959 graduate of Point Loma High School graduate who was raised in Ocean Beach.

“The lifeguards were role models and taught me about the ocean, how to dive for abalone and lobster,” said Arnold. “They loaned us their surfboards and taught us to sail. It was a very healthy way to grow up.”

Arnold has completed many memorials and public art throughout the nation and was the artist for the Point Loma High bronze mascot Pointer dog statue located in school courtyard.

The 6-foot-3-inch bronze lifeguard statue will honor the San Diego Lifeguards and memorialize the 13 victims of the May 5, 1918 drowning at Ocean Beach that included 11 soldiers and sailors stationed at Camp Kearny, North Island and Point Loma. The rip currents that day were caused by unusual conditions of tides near the entrance to Mission Bay.

As a result of this tragedy, the city provided additional lifeguard staffing and equipment, leading to the creation of San Diego Lifeguard Services today.

Major donors to the Capt. Charles W. Hardy Memorial Fund that funded the project were received from Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation, Ocean Beach Community Foundation, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, Peninsula Lions Club, Richard Arnold, In memory of Robert Baxley, Chief Chris Brewster, In memory of Calvin “Spade” Burns, Sgt. Darrell Esparza, Evans Hotels, In memory of Scott Hinchcliff, Craig & Julie Klein, Dick & Dorothea Laub, Dieter May, The Morton Family, Neil Moyer, Sgt. Marshall Parks, In honor of Jim “Mouse” Robb, Sgt. Rick Strobel, Randy Deitz Construction, Ryan Family Charitable Foundation, San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation, Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association and The Wear Family/Wear Community Fund of The San Diego Foundation.

Other Ocean Beach community organizations came together and supported the project as well, including the Ocean Beach Town Council, Ocean Beach Planning Board and the Ocean Beach Historical Society.

To prevent future drownings, teach swimming to today’s youth and waterproof San Diego, send your tax-deductible contributions to the San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation, Aquatic Safety, P.O. Box 90622, San Diego, 92169-2622.

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