James “Jim” Charles Van Derhyden

Date of Birth

April 6, 1945

Date of Death

November 14, 2009

City of Death

Santa Barbara

James “Jim” Charles Van Derhyden, age 64 died on Sunday November 15th in Santa Barbara, California.

Jim was born on April 6th, 1945 in San Francisco, California to Charles and Margaret Van Derhyden. After losing his father at a young age, Jim eventually moved with his mother and two sisters, Loretta and Joanne to Seal Beach, California where he spent the majority of his youth. It was at this point in his childhood when he first began his lifelong pursuit of surfing. He attended Huntington Beach High School where he established himself as the consummate athlete. He excelled at Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Track and Field. His numerous sporting achievements were documented many times in local newspapers, but never once did they spell his last name correctly. During the summers he and his friends would turn into ‘beach bums’ and spend all of their days outside. As he put it, “I would take my shoes off in June and not put them back on until September”.

After high school, Jim attended Long Beach State where he was an active member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business & finance. He spent his summers working for the Seal Beach ‘beach crew’ where he mastered ‘the triple’, a feat that entailed throwing one of the 55 gallon drums used as a trash can on the beach into to the air and making it flip three times. No small feat considering that he was the only one who could ever do it.

It was also at this point in his life where Jim first set out to see the world. He and some friends took the train deep into Mexico and he also spent a summer hitchhiking around Europe with a friend of his from college. After graduation, he traveled to New Zealand and made many lasting friendships. He found the most fascinating and rewarding aspect of his travels to be the people that he met and the lives that he touched, a joy that he would carry on throughout the duration of his life.

At the age of 27, Jim was chosen from a field of 70 applicants to be the Assistant City Manager of Seal Beach after having worked for the city for two years as a purchasing agent and personnel officer. Although Jim showed promise as a young civic leader, he ultimately left the world of civil service to pursue a career as a real estate developer and home builder.

A few years later Jim got married and started a family. He had had two sons, Bryan and Bret. After the boys were born, the family moved to Santa Barbara county and lived on the Hollister Ranch for a number of years. After moving off of the ranch, Jim spent a brief time in the Santa Ynez Valley, before relocating permanently to Santa Barbara.

Everybody who knew Jim, knew that he had a passion for Mexico. It was sometime in the mid-ninties that Jim took his first trip with the boys to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. It was then that his dream of paradise began to take shape. He would spend the following years exploring up and down the coastline near Zihua, searching for surf and ultimately finding his ideal home at Playa La Saladita. After having taken multiple trips to Mexico and sharing his discovery with friends and family, he finally built his dream home. He would continue to spend multiple vacations and holidays surfing and spending evenings on his front porch socializing with pals over a glass of red wine and maybe some dinner.

Jim worked in the home building industry for over 30 years and served as President of the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast in 2000. He continued to be an active member of the Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee within the association. In 2007, the Home Builder’s Association of The Central Coast presented him with the Builder of the Year Award.

In 2008, Jim finally fulfilled his dream of living in Mexico. His many friends will always remember how happy he was when he was in his ‘element’ at Playa La Saladita, surfing and living the dream.

He is survived by his two sons Bryan and Bret, his sisters Loretta and Joanne, and his mother Margaret.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Society in Santa Barbara on December 5th at 1PM, all are welcome.


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