Lawrence Kneeland Dudley

August 31, 2001
The yachting world lost a premier seaman when Lawrence Dudley passed away on August 24, 2001, at his Ventura home with his wife, Ann, family and friends at his side. Born December 9, 1920, in Los Angeles, Larry’s love of the sea began at a very early age; each day he would board the Red Line street car bound for Alamitos Bay, built his first boat at age 10 and taught himself to sail.Throughout his teenage years Larry gained a reputation as both an excellent racer and knowledgeable sailor. His first captain’s job at the very young age of 19, when he skippered a three-month, 2,500 mile cruise to Mexico; the same year he was the masthead man on the CONTENDER, when the boat was first-to-finish in the 1939 Transpac race to Hawaii, the first of many Transpac races for Larry.After Pearl Harbor, Larry left college and joined the Coast Guard, seeing extensive action in both the Pacific and European theatres. Involved in the Iwo Jima and Salerno landings, Larry became the Coast Guard’s youngest Chief Bosun’s Mate at age 23 in 1943, the same year he and his first wife, Caroline Terrell, were married.After the war Larry attended UC Santa Barbara and gained a Bachelors Degree in Sociology, while continuing to sail extensively including several passages through the Panama Canal while delivering boats from the east coast.In 1947, he began sailing with his friend Humphrey Bogart on Bogie’s 55' yawl, SANTANA. For the next decade, Larry sailed thousands of miles with Bogie, often acting as his first mate, and recalled these years as some of his most enjoyable sailing experiences. A lifelong friend and enduring sailing partner was another actor and accomplished sailor, Sterling Hayden. Sterling and Larry sailed together for over 30 years, and spent much time with their families enjoying sailing and backpacking in the Sierras.Larry, acting as either skipper or navigator, sailed in countless races to Hawaii, Ensenada, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, along with many local Southern California regattas.Larry opened a yacht brokerage in the 1960’s for David Fraser in Marina Del Rey. Larry Dudley Yacht Sales opened in Ventura in 1980, operated by Larry and his wife, Ann Phillips. Larry remained joyfully active in the Ventura boating scene for many years. He could always be counted on to help a friend or stranger, had a friendly smile and good boating story to go along with it, loved music and dancing.Larry had the heart of a true adventurer who had heard old Triton’s call.If he couldn’t always be out there rounding up the sails off Diamond Head or beaming along in the trades, he understood, aided and abetted many who would, or who wished they could.
As one of California’s most beloved yacht brokers, Larry was a great advocate for the whole process of matching the right person with the right boat. Invariably, he succeeded.A passionate believer in the nurturing power of time spent in, on or around the ocean, Larry’s favorite charitable cause was the LA Maritime Institute’s Topsail Youth Program in San Pedro, whose mission is to use sail training as a mechanism to provide at-risk youth with the skills and behaviors needed to live successful, healthy lives as contributing members of society.Larry is survived by his wife, Ann, and his four children, Peter, Teri, Katie and Jim.Those who wish to help memorialize Larry’s contribution to the boating life, may do so by a tax free donation to the Larry Dudley Berth aboard one of the Twin Brigantines now under construction as gifts to the youth of California. Send contributions to: Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) Berth 84, San Pedro, Ca. 90731. A local foundation will match all donations received before November.A celebration of Larry’s life is planned for all of his friends and family at the Ventura Yacht Club on Wednesday, September 5th, at 4 pm.A celebratory day sail on the Tall Ship Bill of Rights, in honor of Larry’s exemplary life, will take place on Sunday, September 30, departing from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum dock in San Pedro. Contact LAMI at (310) 833-6055 for reservations.

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