Ben Francis, a recurrent ocean lifeguard, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, July 22. He was 60 years old.
“The Board of Supervisors, President Ken Haskett of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association and I pass along our deepest condolences and sympathies to the entire Francis family,” Fire Chief Daryl Osby said in a statement.
Francis worked summers at Cabrillo Beach, said Haskett, who worked with the recurrent lifeguard in 2012 and 2013 and described him as “very sincere and very genuine with everybody.”
“(He was) one of those people that really genuinely believes in helping people … and one of those people who really wouldn’t hurt an ant or fly that was buzzing around his head,” Haskett said.
Francis had a nearly unparalleled work ethic, and he often swam around the buoy at Cabrillo Beach before work, Haskett said.
“He was one of the few lifeguards that did the polar bear swim every day,” Haskett said, noting that Francis did not wear a wetsuit. “He did it for more than 365 days in a row.”
In 2013, he was crowned king of the annual San Pedro Polar Bear Swim.
“He’ll definitely be missed by his friends and family, and definitely by the lifeguards there in San Pedro,” Haskett said.
Francis is survived by his wife, Theresa, and their two daughters.