Remembering John Goodwin

The Hermosa Beach paddle-out...
(To see Mike Wimberly's video of this event, click this link.)

The paddle-out ceremony at 22nd Street in Hermosa Beach drew more than 100 participants, including John Goodwin's daughter,  Ann Goodwin McNee, and his widow, Darlene Goodwin.

Are there 100 participants?  Well, you try and count them!  (Some are not visible here.)

A county lifeguard boat gathers the participants together... 

...And releases a water spray in John's memory, as many more spectators gather on the shore.
At left:  Dick Douglas serves as emcee for the ceremony, while Darlene Goodwin and Ann Goodwin McNee listen.  In the photo above, Linda Reardon Neal delivers the eulogy.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii...

While John Goodwin's friends on the mainland were commemorating his life with a paddle-out, his friends in Hawaii did a simultaneous paddle-out 2,500 miles away at Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu.

The Hawaiian group strikes the same pose as the group on the mainland.

Here are two views of the beach memorial on Sunset Beach, Hawaii.  Above is a photo of John and Darlene taken at the MCHS 40th reunion in 2000.  At right:  a view of the entire display.


Back on the mainland, there was a celebration of John's life...

At left:  Burleigh Brewer and Linda Reardon Neal.  Above:  Steve Thompson.  Burleigh was the fall, 1959 ASB president at MCHS; Steve was ASB president in spring, 1960.

Above (from left):  Karen Richards Rambeau, Mike Rambeau and Cathie Camp McMillan.  At right: the reverse side of the photo display board shown in the opening photo.

From left:  Jim McCaverty, Priscilla Gibbons Haase, Russ Noel

In the foreground:  Dave Behr

These flowers were a gift of the MCHS Class of 1960.

Lynn Richardson shows photos of some of her netsuke art.

Family friends signed the souvenir surfboard.

Above:  Burleigh Brewer and his wife.  At right:  Tony Colee and Sharon Archuletta Mansfield.

Above:  Pam Schillinger Gaskell, Jo Ann Haworth Emmett and Jim Emmett.  At right:  Mary Alice Holmes and Kathy Taylor Graham.


Randy Graham and Arvin Collins

Ken and Kathy Allen

At left:  Shirley Hall Conn and Jim McCaverty.  Above:  Laura and Noel Sewall and Arvin Collins.

From left:  Linda King, Nancy Vening Cypert, Sharon Archuletta Mansfield, Peggy Stone Bodmer and Gil Archuletta.

This article appeared in the leading local daily newspaper.

South Bay Icon Dies

     John Goodwin, surfer, skier, snowboarder, artisan, lifeguard and mentor to many young watermen, died May 21, two days after suffering a massive stroke. He was 64. 
     On Sunday, June 24, there will be a paddle-out and memorial service at 21st Street in Hermosa Beach at 9:00 am, followed by a Celebration of Life party at Sangria, 68 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach from 1:30-4:30. There will be a simultaneous paddle-out at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
     John Gordon Goodwin was born August 24, 1942, grew up in Manhattan Beach and graduated from Mira Costa High School in 1960. He spent one year at the University of Arizona, "until my gills nearly dried up," which precipitated his return to the South Bay, where he played water polo and swam for El Camino College. He then attended California State University, Long Beach and got a teaching credential from UCLA. 
     A South Bay icon, Goodwin was a Los Angeles County Lifeguard for 40 years. Every year he worked the surf festival, and if Hermosa's 22nd Street tower was open, there was a good chance John was in it. He spent fifteen summers as a Junior Guard instructor. He loved teaching J.G.'s and many of his "kids" remained lifelong friends. He also spent four summers teaching in a program for handicapped kids and adults.
     John spent the winter of '63-'64 working in Idaho, selling lift tickets for the Sun Valley Company and began a love affair with the mountain and the Sun Valley area that lasted until the day he died. His 20-year marriage to Darlene began on the slopes of Sun Valley and he proposed to her two days after they met. They were married a year later in matching white ski suits in Averell's restaurant on the mountain. For 43 years he was a winter resident of Sun Valley.
     Goodwin worked hard and played hard, living life on his own terms. He also made his living at his potter's wheel and in his lifetime threw more than 20 tons of clay. During the '70s and '80s he owned Goodwin Stoneware on Aviation Boulevard. When the Chart House restaurant opened, he not only worked as a waiter but also made the most of their signature serving pottery. He loved to share his knowledge and taught ceramics for the South Bay Adult School and the Palos Verdes Art Center. He was a skilled woodworker as well, and his home is a showcase of his talent and attention to detail. 
     John was usually the emcee of his class reunions and it became a tradition for the MCHS class of '60 to have the Friday night pre-party at John's, then at John and Darlene's. If you were in town, you knew you could show up and John would not only remember your name but a detail about your life. He surfed for the Hap Jacobs' surf team from '63-'65, was photographed for books and surf films, and continued to surf all of his life, up and down the west coast and went to more far-flung destinations in Hawaii, Fiji and Australia. He was passionate about volleyball and followed the Mira Costa teams into their current season. He loved playing tennis, and his perennial enthusiasm for biking shone through when he got his last new bike, which he was riding right up until the minute he had the stroke.
     In addition to the many friends he leaves behind, John is survived by his wife, Darlene of Hermosa Beach; daughter, Ann McNee and her husband, Jeff of Sun Valley; and his 19-year-old cat, Chloe Bear.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Heart Association.

Linda Reardon Neal gave this eulogy at the memorial service just before the Hermosa Beach paddle-out.

John Goodwin Memorial

     Let me begin by telling you that I drove around all week in my dirty car, knowing that I just had to get it washed before today and I did, so I wherever he is, I know John is watching and would be happy about that.
     I am here today, we are here today to honor a man who took what Joseph Campbell, the philosopher and mythologist called the left-hand path which means following the scent of your destiny which is not always easy or predictable.  John Goodwin took that less-predictable, less comfortable path through life, following his passion or passions I think he had many. 
      There are so many of us here on this beach today because we understand and appreciate the way John lived his life as an athlete, an artist, a teacher, a mentor and a friend.   He was a man of scrupulous honesty, of strong convictions, of fastidiousness in everything he undertook, a man of childlike enthusiasm and most of all a man of compassion.
     As we gather here to remember John weíre creating community, which is just one of the things  he did so well.  He always found time and a space for friends and friends of friends, for the underdog, for people who were lonely or in pain.  He saw the beauty and the potential in everyone, just as he saw the potential in a hunk of clay, a piece of oak, a breaking wave or a snowy mountain slope.  His appreciation of quality and beauty in everything and everyone made him a gifted craftsman and an equally gifted teacher. 
     We are here to share memories and love today and of course to tell the stories that connect us to him and reveal the uniqueness  that made him a hub around whom so many people gathered, qualities that made John Goodwin a natural and inherently approachable icon. 
     I take myself back to the Center School playground.  Must have been seventh or eighth grade when we were all learning to play volleyball, and John was our leader, even though Miss Perry was the official teacher.  We were learning pig latin at the same time and yelling each otherís names and scoring in our new-found foreign tongue.  Johnny was hard at work, making sure we positioned ourselves properly on the court and teaching the girls how to serve.  It was about this time that we began having spin-the bottle parties in darkened dens and garages; I remember one particular party at Darryl Stuckerís, up on Dianthus, when I got up the courage to approach Johnny for a kiss.  He presented his wide grin and a mouthful of braces, took one look at my metal-mouth (his word)  and said emphatically, No!  Our braces would get stuck together. The truth.  A joke.  And a cleverly couched rejection.  All of it in that one short sentence, one we would laugh about for the rest of our lives. 
      It was easy to laugh around John, and his humor and good nature made him the perfect emcee for our class reunions.  He also hosted the pre-party on Friday night, which became such a tradition that some people would go to Johnís, and in more recent years to John and Darleneís, but forget about the reunion.  He hosted many of the reunion committee meetings and one year, I think it was for the 20th, he made a coffee cup for each member of the committee.
     Over the years, Iíve lived with wine goblets, flower pots,  and a lamp hanging over my kitchen table from Johnís ceramic collection.  And when I moved into my condo in the Ď80ís, he built the cabinets.  They were gorgeous oak, and about the only thing I regretted leaving when I moved out of Manhattan Village to return to the beach. 
     Iím sure many of us have tangible memories of  the things John created, but the intangible ones, the laughs and the adventures, the conversations and the parties are what weíll cherish.  Like the time when we were both living through the edginess of divorce and he asked me why I still wore the band with the stone in it on my wedding ring finger.  No guyís gonna be interested if youíre wearing that on your hand, he pronounced.  But I like the stone, I told him, waffling, and he just laughed and said it made me look married, and Iíd better think about that. I put the ring on the other hand and kept it there.  Those were the days when he was looking to get remarried, himself, and he said nobody believed him.  And in his open, grinning way he said, You know, I can cook and I can clean.  Iíll make somebody a really good husband.  He met Darlene two weeks later.
     John did not participate in consensus culture.  He did not vibrate to the ordinary expectations of society.  He was more amphibious, swimming outside traditional parameters and perimeters. Unique.  Iconoclastic.  Just a couple of ways to describe him, and in so doing, I think itís useful to understand historically that the iconoclast, the one who breaks the old images, sets the tone for the new, in effect, becoming the new icon.   So here we are, at the beach John stood guard over to remember him.  Some of you will be joining together to carry his ashes and his essence into the water, and all of us will be praying, meditating, breathing, crying remembering John as we send his spirit back to the great Mother, back to the sea.

Linda Neal
June 24, 2007 

Here's Bob Leinau's description of the paddle-out in Hawaii, sent in an e-mail to Karen Richards Rambeau.

The Hawaii Paddle-out

Aloha Karen,

Well at 7:00 this morning a group of us gathered by the lifeguard tower at
Sunset Beach and we all agreed that we were glad to be there instead of 22
street in Hermosa.  We reminisced about Johnnie for a while around his big
wave gun stuck in the sand, said some words [Jeff told us about what a good
shot JG was with a sling shot.   JG once shot Jeff's kite right out of the
sky with a single marble!! Both of their dads had a serious talk!] took some
pictures, paddled out, tossed some leis and bid Aloha .... and I scooted off
to work. Present were Gary McCurdy, Jeff & Patty Johnson, Jim Bleateau & his
wife Sue Cortez, Marilyn & Lucky Cole.  Bob & Maryjo Buell would have like
to have come but they were on a biking adventure in the NW.  My wife
Gladness, is in Australia.

Marilyn Cole took some pictures [& movies] & I hope to get copies.  She was
a bridesmaid at Johnnie's first wedding ... if I've got the story straight.
Thank for the report of the turnout in Hermosa.  It is true... Johnnie did
touch a lot of people in many ways.  Bob Leinau

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