Edgar Austin Hendricks
Edgar Austin Hendricks, sweet husband, wonderful father, community activist and a true son of Long Beach, passed away on April 15th at the age of 89. Edgar was born in 1924 in Pendleton Oregon, but his family moved to Long Beach when he was a child. Long Beach was his lifetime home, and in his story you can see reflections of eight decades of Long Beach history.
He was nine when he experienced the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, hanging onto a tree in his front yard and watching the shock move down his street like a wave. He remembered having adventures with his brothers in the oil fields on Signal Hill including riding home-made carts down "Airplane Hill". A lyrical tenor, Edgar was a member of the famous Long Beach St. Luke's Boy's Choir which performed in two dozen Hollywood movies in the 30's and 40's including "Boys Town" with Spencer Tracy. But the majority of his childhood memories were centered a few blocks from home on the beach, which was the focus of Long Beach social and civic life. Before the construction of the Long Beach portion of the breakwater in the late 40's, the surf was renowned for its long ride. An avid bodysurfer, Edgar remembered jumping off the end of the Belmont Pier to ride the breakers all the way back to shore.
After graduation from Wilson High School he joined the Air Corp. He and his two brothers represented three branches of the military in World War II. Edgar flew the Lockheed P-38 fighter in the South Pacific, surviving a crash on a coral atoll, and served as part of the occupation force in Japan after the war.
After his discharge he enrolled at Long Beach City College where he met Marjorie who would be his wife of 67 years and with whom he would "laugh every day". Edgar and Meg built their first house by hand in Stanton, but eventually settled in East Long Beach where they remained for 55 years. Edgar initially followed his father into the safety valve business while continuing with his education in math at Long Beach State College which began as little more than some trailers in a muddy field at the bottom of Bixby Hill. He later utilized his degree to land a job in the new field of linear programming for Richfield, where he was part of the group that pioneered the use of computers in the planning and operation of the port's oil refineries.
Edgar was known for his vitality, sense of humor and generosity. He was the life of every party and a member of many groups including tennis duffer clubs that first met at Millikan High in the late 60's, and later moved to El Dorado Park. He played in the amateur "Senior Tournament Circuit", and was principal story-teller at the YMCA on Carson and Woodruff. His love of the ocean remained throughout his life and was passed on to his children. He rode his last wave, with his son and daughter, two months before his 87th birthday. His appreciation of the beach as a priceless community resource led him in his senior years to champion the restoration of the Long Beach shore where he hoped to one day swim and surf again. He became the movement's figurehead as a member of the Surfrider Foundation, and worked with scientists and government officials in addressing water quality and the possibility of modifying a portion of the breakwater. He was recognized by both the Surfrider Foundation and the City of Long Beach for his service.
He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, his son, Chris Hendricks, daughter, Priscilla Eckert, and his four grandchildren. Please sign the guestbook at www.presstelegram.com/obits.
Published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram from Apr. 26 to Apr. 28, 2014