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60 Years Later, O.C. Good Sports Will Finally Receive Their Rewards

Times Staff Writer

It’s been quite a wait, 60 years in fact, but Friday night Morgan Morgan and 11 other sailors from the Balboa Island Yacht Club were finally to get their rewards for their summers of excellence in sailing, swimming, diving, paddle-boarding and rowing.

During World War II, the club couldn’t honor its young sailors with trophies because metal was needed for the war effort.

“We got an 8-by-10 piece of paper instead of the trophy,” said Morgan, 72, of Corona del Mar, who won swimming, sailing, rowing and diving competitions over four summers at the yacht club. “In small type it said, ‘What would have normally gone into trophies was going into the war.’ ”

Morgan understood. In fact, he spent many days back then collecting tinfoil for armaments and bacon grease for soap. When he learned that his trophy was being presented six decades later, he thought it was a joke.

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“It tickled my funny bone,” he said. “We never expected anything in return. But this will be kind of fun.”

The idea to honor the sailors came from Quincy Bock, 17, commodore of the 83-year-old yacht club that is run almost exclusively by children.

Bock had listened to her uncle, Ralph Potter, half-jokingly grumble about his missing trophies -- first-place prizes in paddle board, rowing and sailing. She decided that maybe someone other than her uncle might be longing for their trophies.

Bock, of Encinitas, was given the go-ahead from Seymour Beek, whose family founded the yacht club, one of the nation’s oldest. Bock and her mother, Diane, then began tracking down about 100 medal winners from 1942 to 1945.

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“Recordkeeping was pretty sketchy in those days,” Diane Bock said. “Many had passed away, some had Alzheimer’s, some couldn’t come and some couldn’t be tracked down.”

Potter, 74, was the easiest to find, but he lived the farthest away -- in Boston, where he is a professor of ethics at Harvard. Potter said he never guessed he would be returning to his hometown for an honor he joked about for years. “I’m pleased that I’d have an occasion to come back to Balboa Island for something like this,” he said.

At Friday night’s ceremony at the Balboa Pavilion, each of the 10 men and two women were to be handed a pewter plate engraved with their name, years of achievement and club flag.


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