Who Are the Most Legendary People in Pacifica?

New history book lists local legends.

Image courtesy of Arcadia Publishing
Image courtesy of Arcadia Publishing

Active, innovative and compassionate. That’s how local author Chris Hunter describes what it is to be a legendary person in Pacifica.

So it’s no wonder that in his mind the most legendary person in Pacifica is the late Nick Gust, who was a prominent businessman, restaurateur, philanthropist, and a four-time mayor with the longest tenure as a prominent citizen in Pacifica.

Hunter, a former editor and publisher of the Pacifica Tribune, would know.  He recently penned a new history book "Legendary Locals of Pacifica," a lovely compendium of the most interesting and significant people who have lived and worked in Pacifica. 

Published by Arcadia, known for books chronicling the history of small towns across the country, "Legendary Locals of Pacifica” will be available on book shelves starting Jan. 6. The book is chock full of black-and-white photographs and a collection of vignettes describing Pacifica’s cast of characters over the years.

Hunter says he was inspired to write the book after working with Bill Drake and the Historical Society on a Pacifica history book 10 years ago. He also did the “Ocean Shore Railroad” book for Arcadia Publishing. 

“The publisher asked me if I was interested in doing the ‘Legendary Locals of Pacifica,’ and I thought it would be a fun project,” said Hunter, who chose subjects for the book who represent the dynamic personalities of the city where he lives.

“I have been in Pacifica since 1990, so that's nearly half as long as Pacifica has been incorporated as a city in 1957,” he said.

Hunter compiled this volume with the cooperation of the current management of the Pacifica Tribune, the Pacifica Historical Society, and other community members. 

He says the most unassuming local legend he found in Pacifica is “perhaps Helen James, who has been a part of Pacifica since its inception and who has volunteered endlessly on countless projects,” said Hunter. “She was urged to run for City Council, but chose to be supporting volunteer instead. She's a wonderful woman known to just about anyone who has ever been active in Pacifica.”

The most interesting and fascinating bit of history he discovered pulling this book together was learning about Father Robert Duryea.

“A popular Catholic priest in Pacifica, he was secretly married and had a child before it was discovered and he was ex-communicated from the church," said Hunter. "His brother John, also a priest, had the exact same secret in Palo Alto and was also ex-communicated.”

Hunter will be at a book signing at Florey's Books, 2120 Palmetto Ave., in Pacifica on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m.  The book will also be available for purchase at Amazon.com and at bookstores in Half Moon Bay starting on Jan. 6. The list price is $21.99.



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