Newport Beach in the Rearview Mirror
10: The Ferry Godfather: The Legend of Joe Beek and the Balboa Island Ferry
June 10, 2021
Hosted by William Lobdell
Joe Beek is known as the Father of Balboa Island and operator of the Balboa Island ferry for a half century (his family still runs it after more than 100 years). But he was so much more than that. Here's just some of his feats:
- He was Newport's first harbor master; he marked the bay's channels, built the channel-marker buoys himself, and, in 1923, climbed jetty rocks to place warning lights at the harbor entrance .
- He served on the city library's first Board of Trustees.
- He served in World War II at the age of 61 after forging his birth certificate.
- He founded Newport's Tournament of Lights Boat Parade in 1921, a summer event so popular that the city's police chief asked him to shut it down in 1949 because visitors were overwhelming the city.
- He was the developer of some of Newport's signature housing communities.
- He served a record 49 years as the secretary of the California Senate, receiving bipartisan support for nearly a half century.
The story of his life is truly legendary.