Eight Bells: Byron Jessup
Published on September 3rd, 2020
Long-time Oceanside (CA) resident Byron Jessup passed away in his home, after a battle with cancer, on August 17, 2020. He was 91 years old.
Born on March 24, 1929, in Beaumont, California, Byron’s family moved from Banning, California, to Oceanside in 1943. He fell in love with surfing and surfed Oceanside’s beaches throughout his teens and twenties. He was a 1947 graduate of Oceanside High School, where he played football and was the team’s defensive captain.
His love of the ocean inspired him to become a beach lifeguard and served as the first Captain of Oceanside’s lifeguard service. While Captain, he started the junior lifeguard’s program to ensure Oceanside’s beaches would have a continuing supply of guards.
His beloved lifeguarding position was interrupted by the Korean War, where he served as an Army Sergeant teaching weapons and booby traps. Upon his return to Oceanside in 1953, he sailed professionally with the Scripps Institute, collecting sea specimens along the coast of Baja California and Mexico’s central coast, and married his fellow OHS alum Meredith Bell. Together, they had two children: Kelly in 1959 and Cayce in 1962.
After Meredith’s passing in 1969, Byron married Marjorie Gatti and lived together in their beautiful Oceanside home, which overlooks the San Diego County coastline. Having put his surfboard away for good in the early 1960s, Byron and 11 others started the Oceanside Yacht Club in 1963, and he served as its Commodore in 1965. He was an avid boater, having several sailboats that he raced with great success throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
He furled the sails for good when he bought his “Old Dad’s” trawler in 1990 and cruised the Southern California coast with it through his 90th birthday. Byron was very proud to have all of his careers contain an Oceanside address. He was general manager for Berry-Bell and Eternal Hills mortuaries until his career change in the mid-70s to become a manufacturer of Old Dad’s wood stains and top coatings for the unfinished furniture industry.
Byron is survived by his wife Marge Jessup, daughter Kelly (Jon) Casebeer, son Cayce (Denise) Jessup, stepson Alan Gatti, grandsons Tristan Casebeer, Devin Casebeer and Cayden Jessup and granddaughter Cassidy Jessup, as well as his many friends at the Oceanside Yacht Club, Oceanside-Pacific Kiwanis Club, and the Oceanside Old Timers Club.
He was preceded in death by his father Merle Jessup (1963), wife Meredith (1969), mother Lametta Jessup (1998), and brother Roger Jessup (2012).A celebration of life is planned for Byron at the Oceanside Yacht Club after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Oceanside Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing program.