‘Legendary’ Palm Beach lifeguard, surfer Tommy Hogan dies at 86

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He spent over 25 years as a lifeguard in Palm Beach. He won fitness competitions in his 70s. And he made friends everywhere, often while surfing.

Tommy Hogan, a ‘never-ending summer’ guy who loved surfing, mentoring youth and even competing in lifeguard contests while receiving Social Security, died May 12 at his West Palm Beach home. the consequences of Parkinson’s disease.

The Chicago native was 86 years old.

“Tommy was the endless teenager. It was Peter Pan. He wanted to be young forever. He had that Aloha spirit. You always felt better after talking with him, ”said Jose Ruiz, a 28-year-old veteran lifeguard in Palm Beach and longtime friend of Hogan’s.

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Right out of high school, 19-year-old Hogan became a lifeguard in the Palm Beach Saltwater Pool, Lido Beach, at the northwest corner of Worth Avenue and State Road A1A. At the time, old Florida log homes lined the Atlantic, and the 1,000-foot Worth Avenue Pier was a local hotspot.

Hogan slept in a small apartment within walking distance of everything.

“This is where I lived,” Hogan told the Palm Beach Post in an interview in 2010, showing where one of the country’s chicest streets begins. “I paid $ 5 a week to live on Worth Avenue.”

Hogan and his wife, Joyce, met at the pier, which had a dining bar, breakfast grill, and a fishing area. A “Starlight Dance Night” took place on the pier over the weekend.

Joyce was a nurse at Good Samaritan Medical Center. She and a friend visited the pier one evening after work.

“Tommy asked me to dance. He was a very good dancer, ”Ms. Hogan said. The couple married in 1961. The pier was demolished eight years later.

While working as a lifeguard at the Lido Beach pool, Hogan befriended the Palm Beach lifeguards. They helped him get a job in the city. He worked there for 26 years until his retirement in 1988.

Hogan went on to win the Super Veteran division for retired lifeguards in a San Diego National Lifeguard Championship. He also won a gold medal in the lifesaving event and silver medals in the 2 mile beach run and rescue.

The tall, skinny Hogan – known as the “tar toe” because of his habit of getting stuck between his toes – was an excellent high school football player in Chicago, but he had knee problems. On the advice of the coaches, he tried swimming, his wife said.

While in the Army serving at Fort Irwin on the edge of the Mohave Desert, Hogan was assigned to paint tanks green.

“He hated it. He discovered that they had a pool on the base for the soldiers. He found a job there. Then he got a job as a bartender in the officers club at night. He just had a way of it, ”Joyce Hogan said.

Condolences and fond memories of friends have spoken over and over again for her husband, who ran marathons, practiced martial arts, played softball and was a lifeguard camp instructor, she said.

Like that of Robert Clark, 54, a local freelance photographer who met Hogan while surfing the beach 30 years ago. They have remained lifelong surfing friends.

“Tommy was a legendary lifeguard guy. People loved Tommy. Always encouraging, ”said Clark.

While a valet at the Sailfish Club, Hogan befriended many young workers and members with his stories, said Dr Scott McCranels, an orthodontist from West Palm Beach who was a surfing buddy of Hogan. .

“Tommy loved working with the kids. They admired him, ”McCranels said.

Besides his wife Joyce, Hogan leaves behind two adult daughters. Anne Marie, legal assistant, lives in Calusa. Carol Lynne, an administrative secretary, lives in Tiffin, Iowa. The couple have three grandchildren: Dalton, 19, and twins Nicholas and Michael, 16.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

The provisional plans call for a cremation and then a “paddle-out”, a lifeguard term for spreading the ashes on the ocean.

“It would be off Phipps Park. Tommy worked there most of the time. He loved it, ”Ms. Hogan said.

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