A resident of Santa Monica and the West Los Angeles area for over 75 years, local legend Eugene Poole passed away on July 17. “Gene” was a graduate of Santa Monica High School (1948), Los Angeles City College (1950) and Los Angeles State College (1959). He was a well-known Santa Monica lifeguard lieutenant and an early member of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association, with a reputation on local beaches as an enthusiastic surfer and member of the lifeguard’s competitive rowing crew team. He maintained his activities in the Lifeguard Association’s alumni activities throughout his life.
During the Korean War, Gene served in one of the Navy’s first underwater demolition teams (UDT1) and continued his service in the Naval Reserves SEAL training program until retirement. After that, he remained connected with his Navy brothers, traveling back and forth to Coronado for various hallmarks and events. He was instrumental in forming the “Fifties Frogs,” a non-profit organization for UDT-SEALS, as well as the Los Angeles County Underwater Divers Training program.
Many folks still recognize young Gene Poole as the stunt-double in several television programs during the 1960’s, including “Sea Hunt” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” and in films such as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” where his diving skills were no match against menacing underwater creatures.
On solid ground, Gene was Assistant to the National Sales Manager for Equity Funding in Los Angeles and Miami (1964-1972) and was tenacious about investments and marketing, eventually becoming an independent insurance agent and selling policies for California Blue Cross Blue Shield, which he continued to do for the remainder of his life. He was an avid skier, motorbike enthusiast, and hunter. He actively lobbied for the National Rifle Association and California Rifle Association. In later years, he also channeled energy into the Republican National Committee and California Voter Guide.
Gene was briefly married and divorced during the 1950’s to Ann Wilson of Montebello, during which time the couple had a daughter, Karyn. He preferred (and enjoyed) the life of an accomplished bachelor who was always the center of social activities and occasionally, amusing controversy. He was a devoted to his many friends and to his younger brother, William Poole of Santa Monica, sharing of himself and his life with them and their families. He will be remembered by his enormous circle of friends as either an adventurous accomplice or as someone who would always lend a helping hand, or both. To his Navy and lifeguard brothers, he was a loyal patriot, tireless and fearless team member, expert mentor, and “the guy who did it all.” Gene was a compassionate man who donated generously to the Disabled American Veterans organization and several other charities. He is survived by his brother William Poole of Malibu, CA, daughter Karyn Poole and granddaughter Jordan Poole of Arizona, and their families.
Memorial services will be held at Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy in Santa Monica on Aug. 10 at 12 p.m., with a military burial at 2 p.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. Although services will be traditional, non-formal attire is requested: Casual, beachcomber, or Aloha print (Gene’s personal favorite). In lieu of flowers (although Gene had a weakness for anything glamorous and beautiful), his family would prefer that you donate to the charitable organization of your choice.