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Aquarium Director Emeritus John Olguin Dies at 89

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's John Olguin served as the museum's director and founded various education and public programs.

CMA's beloved Director Emeritus John M. Olguin has died. John passed away at home around 9 a.m. on New Year's Day. He was 89 years old.

John had a 50-year career with the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks, from 1937 until his retirement in 1987. He began as a lifeguard, rose to Lifeguard Captain and later became Director of Cabrillo Marine Museum.

John graduated from San Pedro High School in Winter 1941, where he was Student Body President and founder of the Knight organization. During World War II, he served his country in the U.S. Army in New Guinea, Philippines and Japan from 1942-1945. He was awarded a Silver Star for his service.

During his tenure as director of Cabrillo Marine Museum, he founded many education and public programs such as the evening grunion program and whale watch. He became known as the "father of recreational whale watching" having organized the first boat trips for watching migrating whales, in 1970, from Norm's Landing in San Pedro. 

John's activites extended far and wide throughout the community. He chaired, co-chaired and served on numerous committees. John remained active on the FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Board of Directors right up until his death, attending every monthly meeting and assisting with fundraising goals for the Aquarium.

Many awards and honors were bestowed on John such as: Honorary Mayor of San Pedro 1987; San Pedro Citizen of the Year 1978; American Legion Award; L.A. City Employee of the Year 1978; Citizen of the Century 1999; 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by Los Angeles County Lifeguards; and, 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. A new Los Angeles City lifeguard boat was named "John Olguin" and a local condo development even named their swimming pool after him.

In addition, FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium established the John M. Olguin Marine Environment Award in 1994 to honor those who have demonstrated a significant contribution in one or more of the specific benchmarks of his life: betterment of the marine/coastal environment; generation of interest in young people in marine science; enhancement of public science education; and, development of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. To date, there have been 19 distinguished recipients of this award.

The love of his life was wife Muriel; they were married 62 years. Together they raised three children, daughters Vi Olguin Keith and Monica Olguin Patten, and son John. They later enjoyed the expansion of their family through the addition of four grandchildren.

John will be recognized and celebrated by the many people he has touched throughout his lifetime of achievements and service.

-- Paula Moore, Executive Director, FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

On Saturday, January 22, at 1:00 p.m., a public memorial service will be held for John Olguin at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium overlooking Cabrillo Beach. FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium will be coordinating the service. Continue to check in for details as they become available.

If you would like to personalize a note card in memory of John Olguin, please stop by the Aquarium Gift Shop. The cards will be posted on a memorial wall at the Aquarium and will later be given to the Olguin family.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium contributed to this report.

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