Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Herb Thacker: R.I.P.




Herb Thacker:  R.I.P.
February 3, 1948 - April 5, 2013
Photo courtesy of Leticia Alvarez

We regret to inform you that our lifeguard colleague, Santa Monica City/L.A. City/LACo OLS, Herb Thacker (Ret.), passed away this past Friday, April 5, 2013, at his home in Parker, Arizona.  Herb's nieces, Leti, Valerie and Priscilla asked us this morning to communicate this sad news to all his lifeguard colleagues and friends.

No more information is available at this time.  Efforts are being made by Leti and her family to organize a memorial service at the beach for Herb as per his wishes.  When that information is available we will pass it along.

Rest in peace, Herb.

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Respectfully,


"County Recurrent" News
http://CountyRecurrent.blogspot.com

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Below, Herb Thacker, at left, with three of his lifeguard pals, circa 2010.

"Lifeguard Pals Celebrating the Life of Don Spitler, January16, 2010.
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Below, Herb, at right, with John Thomas, Summer 1976 at WRHQ.

Photo by & Copyright Richard Mark 1976.  Used here with permission.
Per Richard Mark:  "I happened to have a camera with me which was rare in those days.  It was taken after all 3 of us finished our shift at Will Rogers.  That was my '52 green Studebaker pick up in the background.  We often got together after work.  We all had been working as ocean lifeguards for about 10 years at the time.  Herb was the permanent at WR 18.  He took it over from Charlie King who had it in the 60s. Bob Burns was the guard there in the 1950s.  And in the 1940s it was Cal Porter.   The County Lifeguards were there in the 1930s & 40s.  City guards in the 1950s through 1974.   LA County took it back in 1974.  Herb worked there as both a permanent for the City and County.  He was a wonderful person.  Always someone who you looked forward to working with.  Tower 18 at Santa Monica Canyon was the most crowded of all Will Rogers beaches.  It had a rip that pulled in front of the station.  The south end was also known (along with Westminster in Venice) as the “gay beach.”  V ball was the back beach activity.  The beach was run in a much more disciplined way by Captain Bud Clark, also known as “Captain Cuss,” for his colorful language.  He would often say, “It’s my way or the highway.”  Meaning if the Guards could not cut it under his standards, then they would be sent to Venice or Del Rey.   His Lifeguards were fiercely loyal to him and he would defend each and every one of his people.   He respected and liked Herb Thacker, along with John Thomas, Jim Doman, Pete Stang, Leonard Green, Eli Gauna, Fred Findlay, and Boat Captain Dee Golles."    Richard

And from John Thomas, "VERY POIGNANT REMEMBRANCE BY RICHARD FROM BACK IN THE DAY AND VERY ACCURATE.  JIM DOMAN AND TOM ALLEN WERE MEMBERS OF THAT WILL ROGERS CREW.  BY 1974, JIM HAD BECOME A PERMANENT AND WAS WORKING IN VENICE.  THE WILL ROGERS CREW DID LOVE LT. BUD CLARK, BUT WE ALSO WERE IN AWE OF THE MAN. HE ALWAYS HAD OUR BACKS, BUT YOU DIDN'T DARE SCREW UP. HE DEMANDED THE BEST OF US.  THE SCENE AT WR 18 (THE CANYON) HAD IT'S SPECIAL NEEDS AND IT TOOK A GOOD MAN TO WORK THE AREA AND KEEP THE ASSORTED CLIQUES, INCLUDING,  THE VOLLEYBALLERS, THE SURFERS, THE LOCAL PALISADES KIDS, AND THE GAYS AT THE GREEN WALL ALL UNDER CONTROL.  HERB WAS UP TO THE TASK AND WAS WELL LIKED BY THE LOCALS THERE.  HERB WAS A GREAT GUARD AND A LOT OF FUN TO KNOW. HE WILL BE MISSED."   JT

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Just in from LACo OL, Bruce Morgan (Ret.):

A Fellow Lifeguard Is Remembered
Lifeguard Herb Thacker Feb 3 1948 -April 5 2013

"I RECALL WORKING WITH HERB IN 1976...

It was my year of learning how to manage an lifeguard area solo.  There were many rescues at Santa Monica beach Tower 27 near OCEAN PARK BOULEVARD (aka, Santa Monica South).

Even LT Ned McEnroy came down to commend me - a rarity.  That was because Herb Thacker had called and said "this kid is doing a great job, even the cops are impressed."

The classy thing about Herb Thacker was he would pick up my blue lifeguard coat while I was making a rescue...

He had a street smart smile as I returned to shore with some wilted rip tide rescued kid.  Herb would just say, "hell, I feel like I am your valet!"

This was the day I activated into being "a rookie lifeguard who could be trusted" and Herb made the difference by being generous enough to make a commendation to our lead officers.  He always was a bit of a legend -- by rumor.

At the Santa Monica Pier, I worked with an old Santa Monica guard who told me that Herb had left the force one season to become an airline steward... But Herb returned because the beach was in his blood.

The great story was the time Herb chased five guys under the pier for some unknown infraction of rules...  some how these five guys summoned the courage in numbers factor and went after Herb and attacked him...  Herb introduced the first guy to a fifty yard kick that sent him on the express route to choir boy - first section soprano.  The next two were used to batter each others skulls -- a meeting of the minds stuff.

The last two were inspired to run away.


But the way this Santa Monica guard told the story -- you could here the drums roll... and the ground shake.....

I had been introduced to a local legend and hero and the guy had actually held my coat while on a rescue... THAT WAS CLASS!!"

REGARDS
BRUCE R MORGAN
OCEAN LIFEGUARD 060050
RETIRED

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*** Video of Herb On Duty !  ***

Santa Monica Beach Lifeguard 1976 - YouTube

Summer of '76 Art (Troy) Barron interviews Lifeguard Herb Thacker at Will Rogers Tower 18, at Santa Monica Canyon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIFshVQp9Zk

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6 comments:

spyder said...

Wow... so many great memories of working with Thacker at the Canyon and before that, just hanging out with Flanagan and Thacker. We had some very memorable times, most not for sharing, but they were great and wonderful, especially around Tower 18.

On May 28, 1076, Chuck King posted his last post (after being visited by all of the County Royalty):EYES GLAZED, MUMBLING INCOHERENTLY TO HIMSELF, THE ELDERLY LIFEGUARD TOTTERED DOWN THE RAMP FOR THE LAST TIME! GOOD LUCK & GOOD LIFEGUARDING TO ALL WHO WORK HERE (HE WROTE IN CAPS MOST OF THE TIME).

Then Thomas wrote: A MURKY, HIGH DENSITY, GLOOMY MORN/ FOG & LOW VISIBILITY PREDOMINATE--GOOD SURFING CROWD OTHER WISE.

And finally Thacker came on and responded: THACKER ON DUTY--NO ACTIVITY! He always started his day with that. At the time it seemed so minimalist, but it worked for him.

I'll think of more stories to tell as time moves along, but i can't mention the Hot Wheels, eye candy, nor the Green Wall gang.

spyder said...

Oops, that be May 28,1976, and not some thousand plus years ago, way back in the dinosaurish ages...

I had spent from January to the end of May (in 1976) back in South Dakota working for a US Senator. The morning after i got back, i had run down to State Beach to meet up with Chuck, when i got ticketed by a cop for jaywalking across PCH (around 10am). Made that period all the more memorable.

Jamie Schilling said...

Herbie was our friend for many years and we have wonderful memories with him at the river. Here is a link to a utube video I made for him and showed him about a year ago and he said, "will you play this for me at my funeral"?, I told him yes. I hope I'm given that opportunity to do what I promised to do for him. Jamie
http://youtu.be/KaIMLXn18P0

Jamie Schilling said...

http://youtu.be/KaIMLXn18P0

Leticia Alvarez said...

I love and miss you. You are one of my Angels now and I will remember all of the great memories we shared from when I was a young girl to a grown women.. RIP and you will never be forgotten!

Leti said...

I think of you everyday!