Friday, September 14, 2012

Ion Hartunian, R.I.P.

We've just been informed that Veteran LACo OL, Ion Hartunian, passed peacefully in his sleep at home this week.
Close up: Ion Hatunian, top row, center. Venice Lifeguards Summer 1988. Photo source info below.
Ion Hartunian, Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard:  June 29, 1979 - January 9, 2012.

LACo OL, Ion Hartunian (R.I.P.), top row, second from left; from Summer 1988. Photo courtesy of Nathalie Locas Brouwer.

In addition to his thirty plus years of lifeguarding, Ion was a very talented and accomplished commercial photographer. Here is the link to his website and a photo of Ion.

Photo source:

Last but certainly not least, Ion was also a JJ/SMC Alumni Swimmer.  As indicated and confirmed by Dave Kastigar, Ion swam for JJ on the 1978 and 1979 SMC Swim Team.  Ion knew and was friends with many generations of SMC Swimmers from his 30 plus years as an L.A. County Ocean Lifeguard (1979 - 2012).

Ian Hartunian, R.I.P.:  November 10, 1959 - September 11, 2012 

Rest In Peace, brother.


"County Recurrent" News


Brigitte said...

As I was chopping up strawberries to put in my salad I was reminded of Ion. I had the opportunity to be doubled in the tower with Ion on a few occasions including my very first day as a rookie. I believe it was my second year as a guard that we were doubled at Buccaneer next to the Venice Pier. It was a big day and the long-shore current was flowing like a roaring river to the North. After making several prevents and rescues both the beach patrons and Mother Nature finally gave us a break. I remember standing on the deck while Ion was sitting down eating strawberries. I was so tense and scanning with such focus that I would have probably missed seeing a fly land on my nose. Next thing I know I feel a wet leafy thing hit the side of my face and hear Ion's calm voice telling me to chill out and relax. The strawberry tops kept being hurled my direction until finally I turned around to sit down. As I turned around a strawberry top happened to fly right down my suit making us both laugh uncontrollably. I relaxed. He taught me to be calm and use my energy efficiently when it came to lifeguarding, which has carried over into life in general. He found beauty in everything surrounding him and had an amazing gift to share what he saw by capturing it with his camera. When I notice something I find beautiful I feel my muscles relax, letting go, and able to enjoy the present. I continue to remind myself to pay attention like Ion had. I one day hope to master this skill like the peaceful warrior he is.

William Maguire said...

From Veteran LACo OL (Ret.), Bruce Morgan:

"I recall Ion Hartunian in 1980 swimming next to me in a workout at the santa monica college pool at night workout. He preferred his own lane and kept to himself.

Someone told me he was newly married and had responsibilities at a very young age -- I assume that was around 19 or 20 years old; I was 24 years old at the time.

In 1986-87, we became friends when I asked him to be in my WWII film. Ion was intense about creative matters (acting as well as stunts and finally photography) and always was attracted to sites reflecting human rights.

His humor was rather a touch of darkness with a ray of hopeful light.

Always Ion had a mischievous smile at the end of every prank or joke he was making.

Ion and I did scene study together as actors and it was during these sessions that we learned how different we were yet how funny that was.

He was a great lifeguard! I will stand by that as a fact. But, moreover, Ion Hartunian was a dedicated artistic photographer.

Because I believe death is but a doorway, his friendly humor, advise and scoldings will always be with me like the spirit of a living friend who lives on..."

Best wishes to all, Bruce Morgan

Anonymous said...

I remember Ion in some uncomfortable moments as a new transfer from Northern Section working an unfamiliar Venice South with big swells, inshore holes and rips. Our experience together was brief yet, I was impressed with his ability to let me know what it was I could do better. I felt criticized and schooled at the time but later understood how valuable and helpful his comments were. I never had a chance to thank him. I think very highly of him and I feel grateful to have experience a part of what he was, what he still is, and what he will always be.

William Maguire said...

Here is an interesting blog/article about Ion from a unique and non-lifeguard perspective from someone that knew him:

William Maguire said...

Here are a few remarks about Ion from (and with the permission of) Veteran LACo OL, Bill Dederick:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of a good person, Ion Hartunian.... A good natured, pleasant person, whom will be missed by all. R.I.P. Ion!"

William Maguire said...

Ironically, I rarely saw Ion at the beach and rarely worked a stretch of beach where he was on duty. Such is the case with Venice (Ion) and SMS Guards (myself). I did see Ion ALOT, however, at the gym (Sports Connection on OP Blvd; and now a 24 Hr Fitness) and he was always on the stationery bike and reading. I can't count the number of times I would see him there. I could almost virtually guarantee that if I showed up to workout and walked into the Cardio room he would be there on a Lifecycle and reading something. Perhaps once or twice he might not have been there when I walked in and I would think to myself, "Hmm, I wonder where Ion is?!..." :-) Routinely, however, I would walk around the corner and into the Cardio room and there he would be and I would speak his name out loud, "HEY ION!!!"... and he would look up from his book and smile and we would have a quiet conversation. Typically, it would be a brief conversation to say 'hi' and chit chat (like agreeing on how much stronger and better looking Ion was than Phil Topar or the like). The longest conversation that I recall being when I asked him once what he was reading and he said "A Play". I said, 'not the usual lifeguard cro magnon fodder'?!... I tried to follow up with a couple more questions to draw him out but he wasn't gonna give it up to a Santa Monica South guard.... :-) Always composed, polite, friendly and a gentleman. He would always smile and say hello. I will always remember his smile and how much that meant to me then and now. That's how I knew him and that's how I will remember him. R.I.P. ION! Respectfully, Will Maguire

William Maguire said...

Here is an additional remark from Veteran LACo OL Bruce Morgan (Ret.):


Thanks your memories of Ion. I too recall him now in 1985-89 at Sports Connection and as you say on the cycle. He was avid about acting and then he hit the stride in photography.

It is or seems to be all too soon... who knows for sure when we are called. Based on this event, I am inspired to work a little more swiftly.

Take care and

Thanks for the recurrent blog