Arnold Hano, a prolific baseball journalist and a 2013 Citizen of the Year who championed preserving Main Beach and the Village for more than 50 years, died Sunday, sources said. He was 99 years old.
As the first president of Village Laguna, Hano and his wife Bonnie helped rally residents to prevent the development of high-rise towers on Laguna Beach’s world-renowned coastline. The couple shared the Citizen of the Year title at the 2013 Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in June.
His writing career encompassed 26 books, including “A Day in the Bleachers,” as well as hundreds of magazine articles and over 200 newspaper columns compiled in “It Takes a Villager: Wit and Wisdom by Laguna’s Irreverent Observer.”
“In a way, losing Arnold may seem like the end of an era, but Village Laguna doesn’t think so,” Village Laguna president Anne Caenn wrote in a statement Sunday. “We’re going to miss seeing his lively, engaging self at the lectern in City Hall and hearing his thoughtful comments on the issues of the day, but the example he has set is going to keep on inspiring us. We’re confident that his vision for Laguna and the Village Atmosphere is widely shared and will last.”
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Hano still showed up to listen to the City Council meetings and occasionally step up to the podium to share his own comment on local public policy issues.
Born March 2, 1922, to Clara and Alfred Barnard Hano, of Washington Heights, New York, Arnold spent his pre-school years growing up near Yankee Stadium. A Yankee fan at four years old, Hano responded to New York’s 1926 World Series loss by switching his allegiance from the Yankees to the Giants and remained a life-long fan.
Hano started his news career as a copy boy for The New York Daily News, attending sporting events with photographers to write caption information. With the United States’ entry into World War II, Hano served in an artillery battalion of the Seventh Infantry Division, participating in the Aleutian Islands Campaign and later landing in the first wave on Kwajalein Atoll.
After returning from war, he freelanced for numerous publications including The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Sports Illustrated. Hano was named Magazine Sportswriter of the Year for 1963 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Councilmember Toni Iseman said her last conversation with her friend of 41 years included Hano’s recalling the namesake of his rival Los Angeles baseball organization, The Trolley Dodgers.
“He was in New York and lived through the baseball wars,” Iseman said. “Arnold never forgave the Dodgers. He loved the Giants.”
Hano’s thumbprint on the town’s historical landscape is worth remembering, she said.
“He cared about our environment, our history, and our residents,” Iseman said. “We need to thank him and Bonnie for the town we have today.”
Fellow baseball journalist and columnist Jean Hastings Ardell bonded with Arnold over their shared love of the game. For the last two years, Ardell and her husband Dan visited the Hanos’ home nearly every weekend to read them the Independent.
The Ardells made their weekly visit on Saturday and by 5:25 a.m. on Sunday Hano had passed away. He had lived with a heart condition for years.
“Arnold was slight in stature but a giant in all other respects,” Michael Morris, co-founder of Laguna Residents First PAC wrote in a statement. “His legacy will be enjoyed by millions for generations. Laguna‘s village charm and quirkiness, the open space, height limits; Arnold was there leading or supporting all of them. Laguna has lost a piece of its heart.”
Hano is survived by his wife Bonnie, son Stephen, and daughter Laurel. Details of funeral services weren’t immediately available.