Hal Werthe remembered for his involvement in community

A memorial service will be held for patriot and community volunteer, Harold "Hal" Werthe at 11 a.m. Saturday at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave.

Hal died Aug. 21 after a long illness. He was 82.

"People in town wonder how good deeds get done," said retired U. S. Marine Col. Charles Quilter. "They look around, see a small number of people involved in multiple activities. Hal was one of those people. It is a long list."

Hal was past president of the Laguna Beach Exchange Club. He was to be honored this year with the Book of Golden Deeds, but was not well enough to attend a ceremony when the announcement was made in April.

"It will be presented after the memorial service Saturday," said Sandi Werthe, his wife of 35 years.

Up until illness prevented him, Hal was a Citizens on Patrol volunteer for 12 years with the Laguna Beach Police Department, checking up on the elderly or empty homes, freeing up sworn officers time for their other duties. He served as an adviser to Fire Explorer Post 717 and as a Neighborhood Watch Captain.

He was one of the city's cadre of Santa Clauses that greeted children in the little cottage on Forest Avenue at Christmas time.

A veteran of the Korean War, Hal was a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5868 and a past Commander of Laguna's American Legion Post 222.

"He played down his war experiences, but he served in Korea and he deserves honor for serving in the 'Forgotten War,' a bitter and nasty conflict in a horrible terrain and climate," Quilter said.

Hal was a valued member of the all-volunteer Patriots Day Parade Assn., which he first joined in 1975. He chaired the parade in 1979 and 1985. Sandi joined in 1977 after they were married and has served as association treasurer for more than 20 years, handling entries and helping produce the parade program.

"He was a giving, generous person and we don't have enough of them," Quilter said.

The Werthes were honored by the association in 1993 as Patriots Day Parade Citizens of the Year.

A native of Chicago, Hal moved to Laguna Beach in 1971. He and partner Jim Freeman owned J & H Appliance on Glenneyre and Thalia streets in the 1970s. Hal later founded Harold's Appliance in San Clemente, now owned by one of his sons.

Along with his wife, Hal is survived by his children, Ron, Wade and Alene, nine grandchildren, three great grandchildren and a sister, Audrey.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the church's Building Fund, 415 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.


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