Sculpture to Honor Drowned WWI Soldiers in Tragedy that Forced City to Hire First Lifeguards
Ocean Beach leaders and surfers are actively lobbying to receive City funding for a bronze sculpture to honor San Diego lifeguards. Called the “Ocean Beach Lifeguard Bronze Memorial”, it is planned, once funded, to have the sculpture located 29 feet south of the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station at the foot of Santa Monica adjacent to the public sidewalk.
This item will be on the OB Planning Board agenda for the General Meeting on December 4 and planners are hoping for a good turnout from the community to let them know if they want it or not. The project has been submitted to the City of San Diego Arts and Culture Commission and other groups for approval and review with a dedication goal of late Spring of 2013.
The Lifeguard Bronze will not only honor San Diego Lifeguards but it will also memorialize the 13 victims of the 1918 tragic drowning between Ocean Beach and Mission Beach. All the victims were WWI soldiers from Camp Kearny. It was a time before the city had lifeguards – and the incident pushed the budding municipality to hire lifeguards.
The project was envisioned by the late Hon. Robert Baxley who served as a lifeguard in the 1950’s, attorney and Superior Court Judge, plus Bob was an acclaimed diver and author.
Advocates believe the sculpture will enhance the public space and will provide an historic and culture asset to the community, allowing for citizens and visitors to interact on an eye to eye level, similar to other bronze pieces of Kate Sessions and Hamilton Marston in Balboa Park. The project budget is $38,000 which will include the bronze lifeguard sculpture, a brass plaque and installation.
The project is viewed as the first phase of future improvements and enhanced public access to the area surrounding the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station.
Advocates feel that the Lifeguard Bronze project has widespread support from the community of Ocean Beach. A number of groups have actively participated in fundraising efforts, and they include:
- the Ocean Beach Community Foundation,
- Ocean Beach Historical Society,
- Ocean Beach Main Street (merchants),
- Ocean Beach Town Council,
- Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation,
- Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association,
- San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation,
- San Diego Lifeguard Alumni and many civic groups and neighborhood leaders.
Councilmember Kevin Faulconer – OB’s rep – supports the project. The committee is organized under the San Diego Lifesaving Association that sponsored a very successful fundraising event at Sunset Cliffs on September 21, 2012 that was attended by over 225 people.
The following was received from the source of the information above:
San Diego Lifesaving Association
The San Diego Lifesaving Association (SDLA) is a non-profit organization under 501c3 that is dedicated to enhancing water safety and recognizing excellence in the profession of lifesaving through sponsored competitions, issuing awards, public safety education, and charitable support of volunteer lifesaving saving groups. Federal Tax ID #330175231. Send contributions to SDLA, P.O. Box 99025, San Diego, CA 92169. For information or to help in this effort, please contact Byron Wear, Project Manager at 619-224-0560.
Special Project Donor Levels
Captain Charles W. Hardy Memorial Fund $ 1,000 and up
Lifeguard Lieutenant $500
Lifeguard Sergeant $250
Seasonal Lifeguard $50
Neil Moyer, Honorary Chair, Former San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant
Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Mayor Pro Tem
Lorie Zapf, San Diego Councilmember,
Ron Roberts, San Diego County Supervisor
Scott Barnett, San Diego School Board
John deBeck, former School Board member
Noah Taffolla, Producer, Wonderland
Jim “Mouse” Robb, Veteran Lifeguard and Surfer
Byron Wear, Former Lifeguard Lieutenant and Councilmember &
Bridget Cantu Wear, Community Volunteer
Richard Arnold, Artist and Veteran
Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association
Jeff Hatfield, President, San Diego Lifesaving Association
Lt. Greg Buchanan, San Diego Lifeguards/Fire Rescue
Lt. Nick Lerma, San Diego Lifeguards/Fire Rescue
Marshall Parks, former Lifeguard Lieutenant
Jim Lockwood, Lifeguard
Denny Knox, Ocean Beach Main Street Association
Dave Martin, President, Ocean Beach Town Council
Tom Perotti, OBCDC
Pat James, President, Ocean Beach Historical Society
Cheryl Troncellito, Ocean Beach Community Foundation,
Julie Klein, Ocean Beach Community Activist
Mike Martino, Author, San Diego County Lifeguard History & California State Lifeguard
Steve Lombardi, Architect
Carl and Gayle Nuffer
Dorothea Laub, Community Volunteer
Mark and Frank Powell