Roger Eldon Bacon, known for his “tenacity in business,” his love for Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach and his family, as well as his community involvement, including the creation of the Hermosa Beach Surfer's Walk of Fame in 2003, died from pneumonia complications on Feb. 28. He was 88.
Bacon was born on Aug. 23, 1930 in Los Angeles to Lester and Marion Bacon.
The Bacon family made a living from selling cars in Hermosa Beach from 1949 to 1963 at the corner of Aviation Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. Their dealership, Les Bacon and Sons of Ford, was selling 500 cars a month, according to Roger Bacon, in an interview with The Beach Reporter in 2007, before a dedication ceremony at Greenwood Park to honor his parents for their numerous civic commitments.
“My father said, 'Always serve the community,'” Roger told The Beach Reporter. “'Always help out in the community.'”
Roger Bacon graduated from Redondo Union High School in 1949 where he excelled in sports, according to an obituary supplied by his family. Roger and his brother Robert (“Bob”), a champion track and field competitor, were both recognized as Top 100 notable graduates. Roger Bacon also played basketball for the University of Southern California.
Roger Bacon was an entrepreneur from his early days.
He started his own foreign import business BB Sales, selling Mg's, Porsches and Volkswagens. He then worked full-time at his family's dealership, gaining notoriety for his ads on KTLA where he encouraged viewers to “Get off your couch and get on down to Bacon Ford.”
“A syndicated comic strip made a joke about the motto, which was framed in Roger's home for years later,” according to his obituary. “The dealership became one of the biggest Ford dealers west of the Mississippi.”
Roger Bacon became a successful real estate developer following his car dealership days.
His family said his ownership and management of the Park Pacific Shopping Center on Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard was “one of his proudest achievements.” The 2016 opening of Trader Joe's in Hermosa Beach was years in the works.
“Always the showman, Roger once staged a parade down PCH for the opening of McDonald's while riding an elephant ... if Roger had his signature twinkle in his eye you knew whatever he was planning was going to happen sooner or later,” said the obituary.
Former Hermosa Beach City Manager Tom Bakaly said he worked closely with Bacon on bringing Trader Joe's to the city. He said Bacon was “very passionate” about the city.
“He was very proud of his family's legacy in Hermosa Beach,” said Bakaly, who is now the chief executive officer at the Beach Cities Health District. “I will miss him.”
Former Hermosa Beach Mayor Peter Tucker said Bacon could be “brackish” on how he approached things, but was an “asset to the community.”
“He use to come to the council and kind of yell and scream at us ... finally one day he said to me 'You know Tucker, you don't like me do you?' I said, 'No … I just don't like the way you go about doing things. I said, 'We understand what you want. Don't brow beat us and we'll probably work something out' … after that he and I became pretty good friends really.”
Tucker said he first knew of Bacon in the late 1950s but didn't get to know him until 1989 when Tucker was on the Hermosa Beach Planning Commission. Whether it was building the McDonald's next to the Community Center, opening the Starbucks in his shopping center or raising money to renovate the Vetter Windmill, also in this shopping center, Tucker said Bacon “wanted to get things done.”
Bacon cared about the city and wanted to make it better, said Tucker. This could leave him butting heads with city officials and contractors working on his projects.
“He helped people out, a lot of people probably have different thoughts about him, but when you get to know him he was a pretty kind-hearted guy,” Tucker said.
Hermosa Beach Councilmember Jeff Duclos remembered Roger Bacon as a “towering presence in the community” with a “very, very strong personality.”
Though he had strong opinions about city business and policy and was “not adverse” into getting into conflicts over those issues, Duclos said he knew it was “always with the best of the city at heart.”
“Maybe it's something we engender here in Hermosa Beach,” said Duclos about individuals with strong personalities. “I mean that in a good way... some people are just really strong individuals, sort of forging their influence on how the city moves forward, whether it's politics or the arts or whatever it might be. I just think that's Hermosa Beach throughout its history and he definitely fits in that role.”
Bacon followed in his parent's footsteps by giving back to the community by fundraising for the Hermosa Beach Educational Foundation.
Roger Bacon is survived by his brother, Robert S. Bacon; his son, Stephen Fleming Bacon; his daughter, Robin Bailey (Bacon) Geissler; his son-in law, Robert Nation; his granddaughter, Lauren Geissler Giometti; his grandson-in-law, Joseph Giometti; his great grandson, Jack Giometti; his great granddaughter, Georgia Giometti; and nephews Bruce Robert Bacon, Lester Campbell Bacon, Eric John Bacon; many grand nieces and nephews; and cousins Joan Rechsteiner and Philip Wilmott.
A memorial reception takes place Sunday, March 17, at 11 a.m., at the Palos Verdes Golf Club, located at 3301 Via Campesina, Palos Verdes Estates.
In lieu of cards and flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation at hbef.org/donate-now.