Corona del Mar Today: Coda for OASIS center ukulele player

December 03, 2011
  • The Corona del Mar Christmas tree has been installed near the dolphin topiaries along East Coast Highway. The annual Corona del Mar Christmas Walk is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Corona del Mar Christmas tree has been installed near…

Ukulele player Bill Tapia, who was a regular participant in the OASIS Senior Center's ukulele club, died Friday in his Westminster home. He was 103 and died peacefully in his sleep, his website states.

"With a career that spanned over 90 years, he was the last living link to the earliest days of both jazz and the ukulele as a popular instrument," his website states.

Tapia was born on Jan. 1, 1908, in Honolulu. He received his first ukulele at age 7 and began his career three years later, entertaining World War I troops at USO shows, his website states. He once gave ukulele lessons to Clark Cable and Shirley Temple and played with Elvis Presley, as well as playing backup for musicians including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. He was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 2004.

For about five years, Tapia was a regular participant in the OASIS Senior Center's strummers group, which meets Mondays at the center at Marguerite and Fifth avenues.


He last played with the group about five weeks ago, said member Tony Cappa, 90, of San Clemente.

"Him being with us was always a plus," Cappa said. "'Young At Heart' was one of his favorites. He'd end the song with 'Young at Heart… like me.' It always gave us a chuckle."

Funeral arrangements are pending, his website states.


Harbor View students collect school supplies

In a change from the usual donation of Thanksgiving dinner fixings, Harbor View Elementary School students this year collected items for a new "Growing Literacy" outreach program for their sister school.

Students collected $1,000, which will be used to support a Lexia reading program at Pomona Elementary School in Costa Mesa, as well as provide teachers with electric pencil sharpeners and reams of paper. They also collected school supplies, which Pomona teachers and Principal Megan Brown said they desperately needed.

"Everyone in our Harbor View community did a part," said Sandi Marino, a parent volunteer who organized the event. "Everyone did a little bit, and it created this large sum."

On Monday, Harbor View parent volunteers brought the check and 20 boxes of collected items to Pomona. The boxes were sorted by supplies, and teachers were able to select what they needed, from composition books to glue sticks and more.

"Harbor View and Pomona have enjoyed a partnership for many years," said Harbor View Principal Charlene Metoyer. "They have a terrific staff and wonderful students."

*Veterans' holiday gifts

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