10: The Ferry Godfather: The Legend of Joe Beek and the Balboa Island Ferry
Joe Beek is known as the Father of Balboa Island and operator of the Balboa Island ferry for a half century (his family still runs it after more than 100 years). But he was so much more than that. Here's just some of his feats:
- He was Newport's first harbor master; he marked the bay's channels, built the channel-marker buoys himself, and, in 1923, climbed jetty rocks to place warning lights at the harbor entrance .
- He served on the city library's first Board of Trustees.
- He served in World War II at the age of 61 after forging his birth certificate.
- He founded Newport's Tournament of Lights Boat Parade in 1921, a summer event so popular that the city's police chief asked him to shut it down in 1949 because visitors were overwhelming the city.
- He was the developer of some of Newport's signature housing communities.
- He served a record 49 years as the secretary of the California Senate, receiving bipartisan support for nearly a half century.
The story of his life is truly legendary.