Warm-Hearted Polar Bear Legend Passes Away

Warm-Hearted Polar Bear Legend Passes Away

Donna Littlejohn of the Daily Breeze reported that local Cabrillo Beach (California) legend Ray Falk passed away on Tuesday at the age of 87.

Ray was remarkably warm-hearted man with a year-round ability to withstand the cold water of the Pacific Ocean.

His legacy includes a very active Polar Bear Club which he led for 27 years. Headquartered at Cabrillo Beach, one of the closest points on the California mainland to Catalina Island, the Polar Bear Club members and Ray always welcomed swimmers who were training for channel swims or just stopping by a beach known for its cooler water.

I am heartbroken,” said Kim White, president of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bear Club. “He was outgoing and larger than life. He was very organized, but he always knew how to have fun. He turned the Polar Bear Club into a legitimate club, getting us into community service and taking care of the bathhouse when it was run down.” With the Club and the beach in literally his backyard (Ray’s home overlooked Cabrillo Beach), he didn’t have to go far in his retirement to do what he enjoyed 365 days a year. “It’s ingrained in us. We’re beach people,” said Ray in a 2005 interview.

He was a wonderful swimmer, he swam all his life,” said his daughter Sandy Burich. “He was very athletic and built his own surfboard – one of those big, heavy redwood planks – that’s still in the backyard. He was one of the original surfers.”

In addition to the community of the Polar Bears, Ray also help spearhead a US$3 million campaign to preserve the beach bathhouse for the public – a much welcomed place of warmth and hospitality after a cold dip in the Pacific. A memorial service for this legend of the Southern California ocean and open water swimming community is on April 22nd at the Green Hills Memorial Park Chapel.

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