Updated: Jun 10, 2020
For 20 years, the longtime El Segundo resident led fellow seniors on adventures across the country and around the world.
By Maureen Kingsley
When El Segundo’s Joslyn Center in Recreation Park reopens to the public, be sure to pay a visit to its lobby. On view there is a comprehensive and well-organized display put together by local nonagenarian and longtime El Segundo Senior Club member Charles “Chuck” DeDeurwaerder of his 20 years of national and world travel with fellow locals.
Chuck, a former landscape architect and university professor who moved to El Segundo with his family—including his beloved late wife, Irva—in the mid-1980s, served as the club’s ambitious and energetic travel chair for two decades and only recently retired from the role, with volumes’ worth of memories, photos, and memorabilia as priceless souvenirs. A sampling of these make up his Joslyn Center display, with photos from trips spanning the years 1999 to 2017 and a wide range of destinations, including San Diego, San Francisco, the Midwest, the East Coast, Colorado, Las Vegas, Italy, and Switzerland. His snapshots are full of familiar smiling faces, interesting scenery, and landscapes ranging from hot, dry desert to snowy mountaintops.
Chuck says his most personally memorable Senior Club trips were a hot-air balloon ride outside of Palm Springs; a trip to Stewart, Canada, near the Alaskan panhandle; a visit to Port Townsend in Puget Sound; and several trips to Switzerland, particularly to Mont Blanc and the Swiss Alps. His most recent trip, he says, was to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. His most popular club destination, he reckons, was Alaska.
A Well-Traveled Life
As those who know him can confirm, Chuck is a charismatic pursuer of adventure with a quick smile and sharp wit. Before he and Irva wed in 1958, the two traveled around Europe in river kayaks on an epic “getting to know each other” journey. He began his career with the U.S. Engineer Corps in Southern California, eventually serving as head recreational planner for five flood-control reservoir projects, including the Sepulveda Basin.
Work as a practicing landscape architect and professor continued to move him and his family around to residences in a number of disparate states and countries from roughly the late 1950s onward, including Wisconsin, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Australia, Indiana, and Japan. With a strong conviction that hands-on, in-the-field education was superior to classroom instruction alone, Chuck led his university students in travel expeditions all over the globe, teaching them in an immersive and experiential way about various cultures, societies, housing, and uses of land. One of the most memorable student trips he organized was to the remote villages of Papua New Guinea, he recalls. His wife and children accompanied Chuck on all such trips until about 1980.
Taking South Bay Seniors Outside the Bubble
In 1999, about nine years after joining the El Segundo Seniors Club, Chuck began his nearly 20-year reign as its travel chair. Dozens and dozens of trips planned and led by Chuck (and, for most of those years, Irva) included excursions of varying distances and timeframes, from single-day trips (such as those to the playhouse in San Clemente) to adventures spanning days and even weeks to such places as Alaska, Canada, Florida, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Italy, South America, and New Zealand.
As travel chair, Chuck quite literally showed the world to enthusiastic seniors from El Segundo and other parts of the South Bay. He retired from the position in 2017, yet his memories of every adventure remain sharp and well documented in writing and photographs. Visit Chuck’s display at the Joslyn Center at Recreation Park, when it’s safe to do so, and see if a little of his adventurous spirit rubs off on you!
All Joslyn Center display photos by Ryan Delgado. Photo of Chuck by Maureen Kingsley.
This story appears in the June 2020 issue.