I had the honor of attending the Los Angeles Unified School District Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. I was there to accept the award and induction of former Venice High student Wally O’Connor, Class of 1921. Yes, 1921! When a person is inducted, they try to contact the person or family members. If they can’t find anyone, they contact the school, which is how I got involved.
Wally is considered to be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, American water polo players. He was in 5 Olympics and even carried the flag into the stadium for the 1936 Hitler Olympics (Jesse Owens Games). Of great note here, Wally (on his own) did not dip the flag to Hitler. He said that the United States does not dip its flag to any nation. That’s been our tradition ever since.
Anyway, I have his award and Venice High is prepared to put it in a display case, but I think his family, where ever they are, needs to have it and be told about the honor. He died in the 1950s, but he HAS to have some family out there, no matter how distant the relation. Siblings, cousins, nieces/nephews, grandnieces/grandnephews, etc. I was told he never married, but I can’t confirm that. The last bit of info I got on him was that he had moved to the Bay Area before he died, but I have not confirmed that either.
So, let’s see if the idea of Six Degrees of Separation can help find his relatives. Even if you don’t know him, please send this out to EVERYONE you know (even if you know they don’t know him), either on Facebook or any other social network site or email lists you have. Then, ask those people to do the same and on and on. You can have people email me at:
sayne812@yahoo if they have any information.
Categories: Venice High School