Legend of ‘a good community guy’

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Frank Jacinto, left, is pictured with his son Mark. Courtesy photo

Frank Jacinto helped bring a little fame to ’60s Seal Beach

There are stories about Seal Beach that might best be classified as part of the legend of Frank Jacinto. While his name might not sound familiar, those who lived in Seal Beach in the ‘60s might hear stories and think to themselves, ‘I remember that.’

Frank first moved to Seal Beach in 1959. After a life of working in the space industry and as a reserve Seal Beach Police officer, he moved to Oregon, where he remained active in community programs. Frank passed away in November of 2018, but he left a lasting impact on the people who knew him and in some ways the city he once called home.

“Frank was just a good community guy,” Dave Van Holt, a fellow officer and friend of Frank said.

Those who lived in Seal Beach at that time remember it as a very different town. It was smaller and still had open spaces, undeveloped land on the hill and even a dairy still operated on main street. Frank’s son, Mark, and his childhood friends rode motorcycles around town, up on the hill, and even into Long Beach.

When the kids rode their motorcycles into areas they weren’t supposed to be, police officers, like Frank and Van Holt, would chase them out. If the kids were caught, they were often returned to their parents. Even if the youngsters weren’t caught, police had their numbers.

“The cops knew who we were,” Frank’s son Mark Jacinto said.

One of Frank’s ideas was spurred by the chore of trying to keep the kids out of trouble on their motorcycles. He started a motorcycle club for the kids, called the Cannes La Trans of Seal Beach motorcycle club. They even had a logo made up and somehow had acquired the permission of Warner Bros. to use the character of Wile E. Coyote as their mascot. The club would organize motorcycle trips to the desert and other events. One such event was dubbed a “Two-Wheel Rodeo.”

The competition was held in a parking lot along First street and included motorcycle riding tricks such as plank riding and egg balancing. The event got a write-up in Hot Rod Magazine, which covered the event and dubbed the competition and “unqualified success,” and noted a big community turnout, including then Police Chief Lee Case and City Manager Lee Risner.

The article included a picture of the teens (all under the age of 16) with a homemade banner, showing the name of the club.

In addition to his work as a Reserve officer for Seal Beach Police, Jacinto worked for North American/Rockwell Corp. during the Apollo moon missions. He was an engineer and Aerospace Program Manager during his tenure and was part of the team that built the lunar capsule for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon.

At that time, Frank came up with the idea that they could swear in the Apollo crew as reserves, which would allow them to carry a Seal Beach Police badge with them on their 1971 trip to the moon. According to Van Holt and former officer Stan Berry, who researched the department history, NASA denied the crew permission to carry a badge on the spacecraft.

However, the belief is that they were given the OK to carry a patch from the department. Neither Berry, nor Van Holt could positively verify that a patch was taken to the moon. The command module pilot of the mission, Alfred J. Worden, has a website and does speaking engagements. The Sun reached out by email and was told by representatives, that the request for verification would be passed along to Worden. However, no reply was received by press time. Van Holt and Berry both said that while they had no first-hand knowledge that the badge made the trip, both said they believe it did.

The truth lays somewhere between legend and reality. But there was a ceremony to swear in the astronauts at the North American facility in Downey and family and friends of police officers were invited to attend and meet the astronauts, David R. Scott, commander; Alfred J. Worden, command module pilot; and James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot. So, whether or not the patch ever made it to the moon, really only adds a hint of mystery to a story that allowed the small community of Seal Beach to be a part of something much bigger.

“We had a lot of fun together,” Van Holt said of his former friend.

After retirement, Frank eventually settled in Oregon, where he had enjoyed vacationing and fishing. But he never lost his desire to help his community. Well into his seventies, Frank continued to assist his community. He delivered a slide show presentation to adults and teens convicted of driving under the influence. Frank used a gory slide show of mangled cars and victims to illustrate the severest of consequences of driving under the influence.

Frank often worked with his second wife Susan (Allen) Jacinto, who herself suffered from lingering disabilities from injuries she suffered in a major car accident.

For Frank, there was also a personal connection, as his mother had been killed in a car crash. Frank was profiled in an Oregon newspaper, The News Review, in 2009, which described his emotional connection, which came to full bear when he saw a picture of a mangled car similar to the one in which his mother died. According to the story, the photo sent Frank into tears for an hour. Yet, it finally allowed him to incorporate the personal experiences of his mother’s death into his presentation.

In the story, Frank is quoted as telling his audience, “You are someone who is loved, and you don’t want to waste that love, so take care of yourselves.”

In his younger days, Frank patrolled Seal Beach, rode motorcycles, helped built spacecrafts and loved the small town of Seal Beach. He was first married to Sandra Lee (Bryan) Jacinto. He had three children, Mark Jacinto, Kimberly Spain, and Corey J. Jacinto (deceased), three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He loved his family and friends, even those he only met briefly.

“He was good to everybody, he was fun to be around,” Van Holt said.

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