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Laguna Local John "Cactus" Ware Dies at 88

John "Cactus" Ware, 1923-2011.

John "Cactus" Ware passed away of natural causes at his home Wednesday night, April 20, 2011.

Born February 16, 1923, Ware lived and worked in Laguna Beach for most of his 88 years. He was a Laguna Beach lifeguard and owned J.D.K. Builders, a masonry and cement business, where he could be found working on the job up until the last weeks before his death.

He served in three wars—World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. According to his son Kelly Ware, he will be buried in his military uniform wearing his construction boots.

A colorful character who could strike up a conversation about adventures and escapades while charming the ladies with compliments during afternoons at Auto Supply, his nickname "Cactus" is said to have come from a day in grade school when he dressed up in a barrell with nails sticking out of it as a costume on Sadie Hawkins Day.

His memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 2, at in Laguna Beach. He will be buried at Ascension Cemetary in Lake Forest with full military honors "followed by a big bash with family and friends," says Laguna Auto Supply owner Jerry Piper. He is survived by his former wife, two sons and six granchildren.

[Photographs of John Ware at the 80th Annual Laguna Beach Lifeguard Reunion by Marilynn Young, 2009.]

Judy Livesay April 29, 2011 at 06:47 PM
My favorite memory of John has to with a few of his four legged fans. Holly and Trigger, and later, Lil'Bit, resident Laguna Beach Auto shop dogs, knew before any of us had a clue that John was pulling into the parking lot. The clamor would start and heaven help anyone who stood between them and his truck. Without fail, John would arrive with a bag of chicken for his favorite pooches and their adoration was apparent. They would escort him inside to his 'official' stool and wait, tails wagging for the handouts to begin. We knew and so did the dogs that the gruff demeanor was a poor attempt to cover a true soft spot for his fur friends. Judy Livesay Laguna Beach
Rich Kane April 29, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Thanks for sharing, Judy....
jerry piper April 29, 2011 at 11:21 PM
Holly the legendary beer fetching dog and John are up in Heaven now .As we all know all dogs go to heaven ,She has been waiting for him to come on up and bring her some chicken and she will bring him a Saint pauli girl beer. Adios John
e lint April 29, 2011 at 11:28 PM
Living next door to one of John's sons for thirty years you always knew when it was holiday time at the Ware's home. I'll miss him trucking up the drive groceries and cooler in tow. Rest in piece John, OVER. Eric Lint Mission Viejo,Upper Trabuco Canyon, Laguna Niguel
robert bryson May 02, 2011 at 10:18 PM
only knew him for the last year. A genuine piece of work!! A real American Military hero. what a pleasure and honor to have met this man. They don't make many of these... especially today. The love shared by this family was wholly evident at the service. They all were lucky to have him in their lives. Over to John. He will be missed... Bryson from the Shop gang

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