There's a recognizable house on Balboa Island that has been inhabited
by a member of the Glassell family since the 1920s.
As a child, Andrew W. Glassell spent summers playing in the sand
just yards from the beachfront property. Brick steps lead to the
one-story house -- one of the only remaining single-level complexes
on the block.
Twenty years ago, Glassell made the Balboa Island home his
full-time residence. He died there of natural causes Aug. 16. He was
Born in Los Angeles, Glassell lived much of his life in La Canada.
He worked for Lohman Bros. Plumbing in Los Angeles before becoming
a salesman who hawked heating and air conditioning units.
"He was outgoing and very friendly," said Andrew Glassell, son of
Andrew W. Glassell. "You could say he ruled conversations."
Later in his career, Andrew W. Glassell built and sold boats and
boating accessories at his store, Inland Dry Dock, in Montrose. It
was one of the only boat businesses to be in inland territory, his
Andrew W. Glassell took some of his sailboats and powerboats out
on Newport Harbor. A love of the water ran in the family.
"He grew up around it. Everyone got into sailing when they were
little," said John Glassell, Andrew W. Glassell's other son.
George Grupe, a Balboa Island resident familiar with the Glassell
family, said Andrew W. Glassell was an accomplished small-boat racer.
Martha Somers, Andrew W. Glassell's first cousin by marriage,
said, "He was a very active person."
And he took an interest in family history. The Glassells and the
Chapman family built the city of Orange around the turn of the 20th
A plaque outside the Balboa Island home describes the family's
roots. Andrew W. Glassell's father became a local legend when he paid
a fisherman $5 to haul a log that was the lower part of a three-mast
lumber schooner from San Pedro to Newport Harbor.
That log helped support the bottom of the small pier that juts out
from the family home. Five years ago, Andrew W. Glassell redid the
pier for the first time since it was built in 1925.
"He was really a character," Grupe said. "He was a charming,
one-of-a-kind type of guy."
Grupe said he remembers that Andrew W. Glassell spent months
trying to convince a Siamese cat staying underneath the house to come
inside. He finally succeeded and took a liking to his new pet, Grupe
The house is no longer home to a Glassell. Another family is
scheduled to move in soon.
* ELIA POWERS is the enterprise and general assignment reporter.
He may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or by e-mail at