Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
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A Tribute to John M. Olguin

John Olguin, leading a CMA whalewatchJohn Olguin, leading a CMA whalewatch
In memory of John Olguin, the Olguin family has requested that donations be made to the John M. Olguin Junior Docent Scholarship Fund. John and Muriel began this fund in 1995 (and have personally funded it ever since) to provide opportunities for young students with financial need to partcipate in the summer junior docent program at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium - a program dear to John's heart.

Your generous donation will assure that many more children have the opportunity to share John's passion for the ocean. Donate online or mail check made payable to FRIENDS of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro, CA 90731. Please include a note that the donation is intended for the John M. Olguin Jr. Docent Fund.

On Saturday, January 22, a public memorial service was held for John Olguin at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

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.

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.

"I knew it was a good thing. I knew eventually we'd get funded and I knew eventually it’d get professional. It was a privilege to be part of its growth. I sincerely believe that God has led me to do the things at Cabrillo, that God had a hand in the growth and development of the aquarium. We’re doing God’s work here."

- John Olguin, San Pedro Today, Nov. 2010


Post Date: Sunday, January 2, 2011


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