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Laguna Beach


Obituary

Bruce Stewart Hopping

August 5, 1921 – May 17, 2018

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Bruce Hopping (a.k.a. “Brucey”, “Mr. B”, et al) passed away peacefully just after midnight on Thursday, May 17. He is survived by his nephew and niece, Rick and Melissa Hopping of New Jersey. 

Bruce was a local legend. He could be seen every day walking down Thalia Street to the beach where he was a regular for the last six decades. His life story reads more like a novel than reality. He was born in 1921 to W. Frank and Edith Hopping in Saigon, then a part of French Indo-China. His father had lumber interests in the region, and the family was on their way to Borneo. Bruce spent his early years on the islands of the Pacific, where he developed a lifelong connection with the ocean. At 13, he was sent away to Culver Military Academy in Indiana. At 18, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Afterwards, he transferred to Shepphard Airfield Base in Texas, Westover Air Base in Massachusetts, El Toro in California, Kaneohe Naval Air Station in Hawaii, and Clark Air Base in the Philippines. 

In World War II, Bruce was a med-evacuation pilot who retrieved the wounded bodies of soldiers from various Pacific theaters and returned them to the base hospital for treatment. One day, he was sent up with a spotter in typhoon conditions to locate a downed C-47. Their Stinson plane was blown several miles off course, they ran out of gas, and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. For the next several weeks, they floated on a one-man raft in the ocean, enduring violent storms, tumultuous waves, and shark-infested waters, before eventually washing up on the Polillo Islands in the eastern Philippines. After a series of difficult setbacks, and with the help of locals in canoes, they eventually made it back safely to Manila, despite the presence of Japanese soldiers in the area. 

After World War II, Bruce taught at Bainbridge Air Base in Maryland. When the Korean War broke out a few years later, he was transferred to Barbers Point in Hawaii, and then put on a minesweeper ship bound for the Korean peninsula. After the subsequent deaths of his parents, Bruce took his inheritance and created the New Jersey Foundation in 1953. Over the next decade and a half, the New Jersey Foundation sponsored numerous important aqua-athletic events and commissioned multiple notable works of art. Inspired by visits he had made to Laguna Beach in 1942 while stationed at nearby El Toro, Bruce relocated to Laguna in 1960. 

In 1966, he met Dr. Ted Brunner, another Laguna Beach resident, and founder of the Classics Department at UC Irvine. Dr. Brunner introduced Bruce to the ancient Greek educational concept of Kalos Kagathos, which emphasizes physical distinction and nobility of mind. Inspired by the concept, Bruce renamed his foundation the Kalos Kagathos Foundation in 1968. 

For fifty years, Bruce and his foundation have been recognized internationally, nationally, at the state, county, and city levels for numerous contributions to water sports, arts, and the environment. His cultural exchanges for swim, surf, and water polo teams have included multiple events on every continent except Antarctica. He was an Emeritus patron of theISHOF, patron of the AAU, FINA, ISA, CIF, OCC Rowing, and a two-time Olympic swimming judge. He has been formally acknowledged by various officials, governors, ambassadors, diplomats, provincial administrators, tribal chiefs, warrior clans, and others. Since 1968, Bruce also worked tirelessly through the Kalos Kagathos foundation to ensure that Laguna Beach retains its historical legacy as an international destination promoting water sports, arts, and the environment. 

His local contributions are too numerous to mention, but include multiple proclamations by the city council and schoolboard. Very few Laguna Beach residents have left such a lasting indelible impression on this city, and nobody as much on Thalia Street Beach as Bruce Hopping. 

Please join us for a celebration of his life on Thursday, June 14 at 4 p.m. at Thalia Street Beach for a paddle-out and swim. Learn more about this legendary man and the Kalos Kagathos Foundation through the words of those who knew him best. And, in his own words, “Keep the faith!” 

To learn more about the Kalos Kagathos Foundation, or to help out with future projects, contact: Kalos Kagathos Foundation, PO Box 416, Laguna Beach, CA 92652 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A familiar figure on the beach and in the ocean

 

More tributes for Bruce Hopping

“He told me that story about getting shot down in greater detail. He swam for a considerable distance, miles, to get to that island. The other guy was injured and Bruce carried him along on his back. They landed on a barrier reef offshore, and had to walk across it, which shredded their feet. Then cross a lagoon which would be inhabited by hammerhead, among others, with those bloody feet. The locals took him in, and went to amazing lengths to help him. Might not all be accurate, but that’s how I recall it. That experience was a lifechanger for him; he fell in love with their culture and was affected by it for life. He shared this with me, and inspired me to go to Samoa for a year, which was similarly beneficial he helped arrange for it. And I have always been grateful for that. I was not the best citizen at the time, and he knew it would change me for the better. A true friend. 

“He blew [inherited wealth] off for a low key life in Laguna, mostly spent helping others live well. I am sure there are hundreds such stories.”

--Brad Petway

 

“Thalia Street was my beach and therefore [I knew] Bruce Hopping – what a great man, us kids would gather around on the beach and just listen to his stories, great information, and wisdom. RIP Bruce.”

      --Karl Weber


Undergrounding is not worth the cost

Cosmetically pleasing as undergrounding may be, it is not worth the cost. Recently the City emerged from a bond issue that tapped permanent residents for the past 20 years on exactly the same issue: undergrounding.

An issue de jour promoting undergrounding, power lines cause fires, should be applied to a real problem here in Laguna: trees! Hiding under such excuses as ‘takings’ and aesthetics, trees are the source of genuine harm with exfoliation and view blocking. The trees most flagrantly errant are palms and eucalyptuses, neither of which being indigenous to Laguna Beach yet a gutless City Council refuses to undertake remedial programs such as that in Palos Verdes to mitigate their tree problem.

Insofar as undergrounding is concerned you need look no further than the experience of other Southern California cities in which vault fires, flooding and the effects of landslides and earthquakes have caused significant power disruptions. Undergrounding shall result in significant power disruption is simply a matter of time.

Finally, it is apparent that any such measure will probably pass since most voters are renters or ‘home owners’ for a nominal seven years with little or no vested interest in the community and to whom the cosmetic and superficial appeal. But the permanent residents get stuck with another couple of hundred dollars tacked onto their property taxes for the next 20 years.

John Kountz

Laguna Beach


Park Plaza is tacky

No to the tacky looking Park Plaza. I have been a regular user of the Library for the last 60 years and now it is difficult to get to and find a place to park. In summer when traffic backs up from upper Park Avenue trying to get to Coast Highway, there is no way to turn into the library as cars are backed up beyond Glenneyre. On Coast Highway turning left onto Forest, or turning right onto Forest backs up, even when the lower Park section was open for traffic. Just what we do not need is losing parking spaces.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Roger Butow.

Robert Leedom

Laguna Beach


Park Plaza not a good plan

I vote no. It messes up traffic circulation. If you come from the north and try to get to the parking structure your only choice is Forest Ave, which is always congested, or to drive up to Legion and try to make a left turn. The light at Legion backs up traffic on Coast Hwy.  

Not a good plan. The park only seems to benefit one restaurant. I would rather see more benches if the city wants places for people to sit.

Larry Lewis

Laguna Beach


Park Plaza a great idea but needs fixing

I love the Plaza idea, but the execution caught most folks off guard. It looks nothing like the renderings, which had plants and more substantial/elegant furniture. Fix those things and I think most folks will come around. The temporary road block makes it look like a construction zone, and that wasn’t in the renderings as well. 

Kirk Morgan

Laguna Beach


Undergrounding: Do the math

Do the math...estimated cost $250,000,000...Utility electric meters 15,000...equals about $17,000 per meter.

The effective cost of a $17,000 20 year bond will be about $100/month at current interest rates. Who wants to be forced to pay an additional $100/month for electricity?

So here is what should happen. Each meter gets a vote. Votes are counted. Take the number of votes in favor and divide them into $250,000,000.  Inform the in favor voters what their new share of the cost would be and take another vote. Continue this process until the new vote is the same as the last vote and issue a bond to the remaining in favor voters for their share.

J T Price

Laguna Beach


Let’s get the utilities underground

I ran the undergrounding of utilities in the El Mirador neighborhood. It made a huge difference for everyone and increased our property values. 

I noticed that Goff and Park Ave intersection had a lot of utility work on Tuesday. Lots of equipment, trucks and workers snoozing in their trucks. It was a repair and reinforcement of existing poles.

Let’s get all Laguna utilities underground and in the Canyon too.

Walker Reed

Laguna Beach


In favor of Park Plaza with reservations

Personally, I’d like Forest closed to traffic. All the walking streets I’ve ever seen increase foot traffic, which I feel would be an asset to all the shops on the street. So I was pleased to see a closure at Park Plaza but although I say I’m in favor of it I am disappointed in what it actually is. I would never sit down on a metal chair on an asphalt street. There is no beauty or character here. Why would anyone sit there with the beach beckoning?

Perry Stampfel

Laguna Beach


Park Plaza is not attractive

Is it true it cost $24,000 to stage the Park Plaza in Laguna?  If so, the company/person who designed and staged it, made quite a profit!

It is not attractive at all and the tables and chairs look cheap and do not adhere to the beauty and charm of Laguna Beach.

We would not vote for the Park Plaza, as it is an eye sore at its current stage.

As Laguna Beach residents for 28 years, it is just our humble opinion.

Debbie and Mike Thornton

Laguna Beach


Undergrounding makes sense

While I am sure people are going to be up in arms about this I feel it is a good investment in the city to under ground the lines. I would be willing to pay more in taxes to have a safer (and visually cleaner city). Overhead poles/lines are a danger, inconvenience (whenever the canyon is closed due to an accident), and an eye sore. Hopefully we can come up with some answers to this problem. 

Kristen Weaver

Laguna Beach

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