James Henry Algert was born on August 22, 1940, at the old Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California, to Henry Algert and Margaret Mosse Algert, both originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He lived a full life, traveling the globe to advise governments on harbor projects and competing in regattas.
Jim grew up in Chula Vista, where he attended the San Miguel School for Boys, now merged with The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. He spent boyhood summers at his Algert grandmother’s home in La Jolla, and as a teen at his aunt’s beach house in Imperial Beach, where he was adored by his younger cousins, teaching them to drive in his Jeep, crossing the Tijuana River into Mexico at low tide, and surfing.
An engineering major, Jim attended Harvey Mudd College for two years before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley. He soon became involved in the sailing scene on San Francisco Bay, where he was especially drawn to the hazardous challenges of Berkeley Circle. It wasn’t long before he was filling the need for an experienced sailing instructor in the athletic program. With Jim as a skipper, Cal won the West Coast intercollegiate Lido regatta, beating Stanford, Pomona and the Cal Polys, his boat alone taking three first places.
Following graduation from Cal, Jim earned an M.S. in hydraulic engineering from Colorado State University at Fort Collins. Facing the draft, he signed on with USAID and was sent to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil for work on the port. Bechtel Engineering, hearing of a port engineer fluent in Portuguese, hired Jim to go to Rio de Janeiro, where he worked for six years, after which they transferred him to Lisbon for two years, both locations where he could take advantage of sailing opportunities.
Jim also loved mountain climbing and was awarded an official certificate for having reached the icy summit of Damavand, at 18,602 feet, the highest peak in Iran. He worked three years for Abidi Harris Associates in Teheran before the revolution. It was during this time that Jim married Susan Dienhart, whom he had met in Portugal.
In 1976 the couple returned to the U.S. and made their home in the Coronado Cays, where Jim would tie his boat at the slip behind his house, row in his shell in the South Bay, and run on the soft sand of the Silver Strand, something he enjoyed for the rest of his life. They had one daughter Vanessa, whose accomplishments as a pianist were a source of pride. Susan died of cancer in 1990, leaving Jim to raise their daughter on his own. Not much of a sailor, little Vanessa would tuck herself under the deck, fore of the mast, while her dad sailed.
From a family skilled in horsemanship, Jim was encouraged by his uncle Charles Mosse (inducted into the University of Arizona Hall of Fame for Polo) to take up polo. During the 1990’s he stabled his horse by the polo fields in Lakeside, where he played alongside his uncle in Sunday games.
Jim established his own civil engineering firm, built the Algert Engineering building on Broadway in downtown Chula Vista, and ran his business for forty-eight years. He completed surveys for subdivisions in eastern Chula Vista and worked on the maintenance facilities for the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, the Otay Mesa Border Crossing expansion, San Diego Airport renovations and difficult mountain side residential projects in La Jolla. Jim donated his professional services to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, Rotary projects, and the Coronado Yacht Club, finally retiring in 2018.
Jim remained single until 2010, when he married Maurine Beinbrink, a native of Texas and a resident of La Jolla. Together they enjoyed years of concerts and theatergoing, ballroom dancing, entertaining friends on Jim’s Ericson 41 classic sailboat and traveling worldwide for the month December, as well as to Jim’s last two Flying Dutchman competitions on the north and south islands of New Zealand. Closer to home, he frequently won the Beer Can Races sailing the Ericson 41 out of the Coronado Yacht Club, where he served as commodore in 1997.
A skilled skipper of the Flying Dutchman class, Jim Algert competed as #87 at the World Championship level over several decades in the boat he named Diva, a nod to his love of opera, shipping her to all his competitions. He almost always placed in the top ten, giving his competitors the race they expected from him, yet always with his characteristic gentleman’s grace. The International Flying Dutchman Class Association USA plans to retire #87 this year in Jim’s memory.
Jim followed his father as a Chula Vista Rotarian, building houses on pre-laid foundations in Tijuana and judging the annual scholarship competition for high school students. He twice traveled to Peru for Rotary’s program to restore vision to people who couldn’t afford surgeries. In addition, Jim was known as a patron of the San Diego Opera and The Early Music Society. He generously supported young people through the San Diego Youth Symphony and the Boys and Girls Club of South County, where he served on the board for 12 years.
In recent years, as Jim was declining with Alzheimer’s, his wife Maurine kept them both busy with all their favorite activities including world travel the summer of 2021with three trips — a Tanzania safari including a climb up the first leg of Kilimanjaro, one week in Venice and a visit to Split and Dubrovnik and a Viking cruise to Greece and Malta — so that Jim remained active and engaged in life. He passed away at home on May 5, 2022, in the company of Maurine, Vanessa, and loyal employees of many years.
Jim Algert was predeceased by his only sibling, sister Helen Ballinger of Helena, Montana. He is survived by his wife, Maurine Beinbrink of La Jolla and Coronado, and his daughter, Vanessa Algert of Coronado and San Diego.
Donations in memory of James H. Algert can be made to the Boys and Girls Club of South County at P.O. Box 520, Imperial Beach, CA 91932.
VOL. 112, NO. 41 - Oct. 12, 2022
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