Friends, family and Newport Beach residents mourned the passing of two long-time lifeguards this weekend at two memorial services.
Former Newport Beach Lifeguard Captain Buddy Gene Belshe, 78, reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's and died on Dec. 19. Newport Beach Lifeguard Brian Edward Gray, 38, died on Dec. 22 after he fell off his bicycle, city officials reported.
A beach-side memorial service for Belshe was held Saturday on the sand at Big Corona Beach in Corona del Mar, according to a city news release. Belshe, a lifeguard for 60 years, spent 47 in the waters of Newport Beach and his last 19 years were at Big Corona.
Belshe early in his career served a stint as lifeguard at the Ole Hanson Beach Club pool, according to City News Service.
The memorial service for Gray will be held Sunday at noon on the sand at 17th Street on the Balboa Peninsula. Casual dress is requested and a beach chair or blanket is suggested.
Belshe, who worked as a lifeguard well into his 70s, founded the Newport Beach’s Pier to Pier 2-Mile Rough Water Swim and competed in the 1956 Olympic Swim Trials, finishing ninth in the 1,500 meters.
He retired from Newport Beach in 2010.
According to the city, Gray had a passion for surfing, lifeguarding and sharing "good times." He grew up above Big Corona and had a lifelong love for the beach.
Gray was hired as a Newport Beach Lifeguard in 1991 and worked his way up the ranks. He was promoted to Unit Operator in 1996, spent three seasons as an instructor in the Junior Lifeguard program, then returned to beach operations as a Unit Guard in 2005.
Gray excelled at leading tower lifeguards assigned to the Wedge, especially during large South Swells, the release said, and "had outstanding beach safety knowledge and was the resident expert on surf generation and surf forecasting for Newport Beach."
Anyone who would like to send cards or letter to the families can mail them to the Newport Beach Ocean Lifeguard Association, P.O. Box 466, Balboa, CA 92661.
For more information about the memorial services, call the Newport Beach lifeguards at 949-644-3177.