Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue honors oldest-living former lifeguard

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue honors oldest-living former lifeguard
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 3:44 PM EDT
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Before taking the stand Friday morning, members of the Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue team honored one of their own: George Clark, the town’s oldest-living former lifeguard.

The team huddled under a garage with George’s friends and family as rain poured, but the group erupted in applause as Clark arrived.

“I was amazed,” said Clark. “I didn’t have any idea we had such a big, good looking crowd of people looking after the people.”

Clark worked as a lifeguard at Wrightsville Beach in the 1940s. Now, at age 94, he says a lot has changed since he last watched over the waters on the North Carolina coast.

“There was nothing organized about it when I was a lifeguard,” said Clark. “I don’t even know how I got hired, I just came and was doing it. $25 a week, no supervision, but we never lost anybody. Never.”

The current group of lifeguards impressed Clark, who says the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“We had a good group of people doing it then and we’ve got probably a better group of people doing it now,” Clark said.

George has lived in Wrightsville Beach nearly his entire life, and he’s making new friends every day.

“I was surfing one day, and he called me to come and hang out and talk to him and I’ve known him ever since,” said Grace Brookshire. “He’s kind of like a local grandfather for me.”

“I parked in front of his house, surfing every day, he’s like ‘Just park in my driveway,’ so I couldn’t turn that down. That was probably six years ago, and here we are,” said Don Sharp.

Before George left for a ride along the beach Friday morning, he told me why he loves his hometown so much.

“You’ve been here, don’t you know?” he asked. “I mean, it’s perfect. It’s perfect.”

The Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue team finished in first place at last week’s American Lifesaving Association’s South Atlantic Regional Championship. The team will head to California for the national championships next month.

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