Memorials Planned for Newport Lifeguards

Newport Beach Lifeguards Buddy Belshe and Brian Gray will be remembered at memorial services this weekend.

The community of Newport Beach is invited to attend the memorial services for two lifeguards who passed away last month, the city announced Wednesday.

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 will be held Saturday at 10:30 a.m. 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. Casual or resort-casual dress is suggested for the beach 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.

joan schmid January 04, 2013 at 07:05 PM
A short, but special remembrance of Buddy Belshe. Buddy and his family, Gene and Johnnie Belshe were family friends from the early 1950's. My former husband Don Preston, who passed away this past August, and myself, Joanie Nunan Preston Schmid, and Don's younger sister Linda Preston Raines all belonged to the Huntington Beach Swim Club back then. We worked out at the Huntington Beach Plunge just north of the pier on the beach in a salt water plunge!!!! The Belshe's were our coaches, and Buddy and Don were the same age, and competed as friends together all over Southern California. We all enjoyed a wonderful time as teen agers back then, and those are certainly days to cherish and long remember. Buddy is now with his beloved folks Gene and Johnnie, and they all will bring smiles to faces when we fondly remember them. Lovingly, Joanie, Monrose Colorado


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