George T. Lafferty, 93, died Sunday morning at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point.
Lafferty served as captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol from 1962 to 1983. The patrol captured 15 South Jersey Lifeguard Championship titles in Lafferty's 22 years as captain, including a record 11 straight in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lafferty had been in failing health in recent years and had been required to undergo kidney dialysis on a regular basis. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Bettie. The Laffertys have two sons, George and Bill.
The Laffertys shared time in homes in Ocean City and Stuart, Fla.
Lafferty, who had been an OCBP lifeguard from 1936 to 1938, took control of the patrol after the retirement of 40-year Capt. Thomas A. Williams in 1962. The Storm of '62 had destroyed three of the four beach patrol headquarters that winter.
Lafferty was a graduate of South Philadelphia High School, where his football and track career earned him a spot in the school's athletic hall of fame. He is a veteran of the Pacific theater in World War II and served 27 years in the Navy as a chief petty officer.
Lafferty will be remembered by generations of OCBP guards as an old-school icon — known simply as "Cap" — who commanded respect, who rewarded good work and who revealed an occasional soft spot for his charges.
"He didn't mix words," said Ed Yust, a former OCBP lieutenant who started work in the 1960s under Lafferty. "The Navy was still in him. He was a guy's guy."
"He may not have liked you, but if you did your job, he'd take care of you."
Friends may call Thursday evening (July 26) 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Godfrey Funeral Home in the Palermo section of Upper Township at 644 South Shore Road. A Masonic Service will be offered at 6 p.m. and a time for family and friends to share at 8 p.m. followed by military honors. The family suggests those who desire send memorial contributions to the Ocean City Humane Society, PO Box 1254, One Shelter Road, Ocean City, NJ 08226. To email condolences, visit www.godfreyfuneralhome.com.