Ranch & Coast Magazine

August 2023

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in the aftermath of the bombing of Flight 103 by terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. At the time, Gurney was based in the South of France and Monaco, where he and his wife were also living, and she wanted to move to London. Gurney thought they should consider Southern California, which had a similar Mediterranean climate. "Our son was living in Pasadena. We wanted to be close but not too close, and I had a good friend living in La Jolla at the Seville," Gurney explains, adding that upon looking out at the view from the condo complex, his wife said, "Perhaps we should live in a place like this." e view Gurney speaks of looks over La Jolla to Torrey Pines, and Gurney and his wife put down a deposit that very day. ey moved to La Jolla permanently in 1992 and it was then that Prince Rainier appointed Gurney as Honorary Consul. Gurney is also recognized as a Grand Knight in the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a wine society dedicated to the appreciation of Burgundy wine, and not coincidentally, the Torrey Pines Rotary Club in which Gurney has been active for the last 31 years is the only Rotary known to serve wine at the table. is past April, Gurney was honored with a plaque at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, cementing his place forever in the history of La Jolla. In addition, there is an exclusive club in La Jolla known as FOM — "Friends of Max." Born in Germany on June 10, 1921, Gurney says that his father worked for the State Department and in his early youth, Gurney lived in England, Switzerland, and Italy before his parents returned to the United States, settling in New York City in the 1930s. Gurney enlisted after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, and early in 1942, he and others were told to assemble at the 52nd Street Pier on Manhattan's east side, near where Gurney and his parents lived. e recruits were ferried across New York's East River to Queens, where they were vaccinated and given rifles. By nine o'clock that night when the lights were switched off in their barracks, they were 100 miles away in Montauk at the very tip of Long Island, where a fellow recruit from Brooklyn noted, "We don't have to go overseas. We are overseas." "He was joking, of course," says Gurney. "ere was a common spirit to go and fight, but unfortunately many didn't come home. ey are the real heroes." Gurney was in Italy on V-E Day, when the allies achieved victory in Europe, and he was waiting to be shipped to Iwo Jima when the atomic bombs were dropped, ending the war in the Pacific as well. He returned home, and like thousands of young men, needed a job. Fluent in French, he applied to Pan Am and his language skills helped get him hired, but his first assignment was to improve the company's baggage service, because there were too many complaints about lost bags. "I'm sorry to say we failed," Gurney says with a laugh. He stayed with Pan Am for more than four decades until its dissolution in 1991 PLAQUE: COURTESY OF THE MT. SOLEDAD NATIONAL VETERANS MEMORIAL @ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE AUGUST 2023 51 [Max] is a gem of a man," says Neil O'Connell, Executive Director, Mt. Soledad Memorial Association. "He led the charge with the French Resistance in WWII, Operation Jedburgh." A plaque honoring Gurney (pictured below) is also mounted at the memorial

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