Former H.B. councilman Noble Waite dies at 87

From politics to religion to business to holiday festivities, it sometimes felt as though Noble Waite touched every aspect of life in Huntington Beach.

And some days, it felt as though every side of life congregated at his drugstore — the hub of Surf City life that Waite ran for nearly three decades.

The World War II veteran, who went on to serve Huntington as a councilman and church leader, ran one of the few drugstores around at a time when they meant more than in-and-out shopping. Waite's, which opened in its first incarnation on Main Street and later moved to Beach Boulevard, provided a soda fountain for teenagers, pay phones for businessmen and even a spot for elected officials to meet.

"All the boys worked there, going in and mopping the floors, working behind the counter," said his son, Mark Waite. "It was an old-fashioned-type drugstore where half was the soda fountain and the other half was the drugstore. The soda fountain was kind of what they called the second City Hall, just because everybody was doing business there."

Noble Waite, according to friends and family, didn't require the spotlight to be on him. He believed in service and was happy to cede the front seat to others. But when he died May 26 at the age of 87, memories of him — and the era of Huntington Beach he represented — were central on many people's minds.

Waite, who died at a nursing facility in Huntington, had suffered complications from a broken hip he sustained in February, according to his son. The Orange County coroner's office attributed the death to natural causes.

City historian Jerry Person said Waite provided a valuable link to the past: He was the oldest former council member still residing in Surf City, having served on the dais from 1958 to 1962.

Even well into his 80s, Waite remained active in politics. In 2010, the Orange County Water District appointed him to replace a board member who had died. Waite had previously served on the board from 1970 to 1991.

During the last Huntington City Council race, he endorsed a pair of candidates, Heather Grow and Erik Peterson, who is running again this year. Waite's comments to the media about both candidates gave a hint of his values: He praised Grow as a "good, clean, all-American girl" and Peterson as a "good, clean American boy."

Apparently, some people in town saw Waite as an embodiment of American virtue as well. In 2008, a committee selected him as community grand marshal for Huntington's Fourth of July Parade.

Born in 1924 in Fallon, Nev., Waite joined the Air Force during World War II and flew 21 missions over Germany. After the war, he settled with his family in Huntington and bought the drugstore on Main Street in the early 1950s. In the 1960s, he moved it to Beach Boulevard, where it remained until he sold it in 1980.

Much of his energy in later years was spent with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which he served as a bishop and represented on the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council.

Father Christian Mondor of Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church, a fellow member of the council, remembered Waite for his compassionate nature and also his wicked sense of humor. Once, he said, Waite needed a blood transfusion, and when word got around the council, a Jewish woman with matching blood donated hers.

At his next council meeting, Mondor said, Waite told the group, "I'm so grateful, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to eat a ham sandwich again."

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Huntington Beach LDS Stake Center, 8702 Atlanta Ave. A viewing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the stake center and from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the church prior to services.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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