Founder of Long Beach Heritage Museum
Ken Larkey, 82, a lifelong collector of Long Beach artifacts who founded the Long Beach Heritage Museum, died of congestive heart failure Friday, said Marshall Pumphrey, the museum's curator. Larkey had a stroke last year and was in hospice care at a Long Beach home, Pumphrey said.
Larkey's collection included a 1930s wooden Cyclone Racer roller coaster car from the Pike amusement park, a drug store soda fountain, church pews, theater seats and more than a thousand vintage photos. "He just loved putting together the past of Long Beach," Pumphrey said.
The museum opened in 1971 but its location was demolished in the 1990s after city safety inspectors said the building was substandard. The collection has been in storage although Pumphrey said there are plans to exhibit some items at various Long Beach locations.
Larkey was born in Long Beach on April 27, 1928. He started collecting local history at age 9, he told a Times reporter in 1994, by rescuing a 1906 panorama of the city from a garbage can.
He was the longtime manager of a Long Beach hotel, owned a record store and briefly worked for the Boeing Co. in Seattle, Pumphrey said.
Larkey decided to open the museum after receiving a good reaction to his display of vintage photos at a hobby show. In the mid-1980s, Larkey puts his items in storage and moved to Oregon, where he owned a motel for several years. He sold the motel and returned to Long Beach in the early 1990s, but wasn't able to reopen the museum.
—Los Angeles Times staff reports