Obituary: Lou Marcelli

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lou-swimming Image courtesy of Susanne Friedrich 

Lou “The Glue” Marcelli swam in San Francisco Bay every day for 70 years. He was the commodore and live-in caretaker of the city’s Dolphin Swimming & Boating Club, founded in 1877, where members swim year round without wetsuits. Marcelli died of lung cancer on October 16 at age 85. He was renowned for his gruff manner, heart of gold, and calamari pasta.

His philosophy on fitness motivation––and  getting in 50-something degree water each day  requires some––was simple: Just look it in the eye and go.

He relished his role as an “Old Stove,” who cooked regularly for other club members and friends. He was interviewed on NPR for his kitchen secrets. He shared his recipes for calamari pasta,  broiled Sand Dabs, and sautéed Swiss chard with Mario Batali on his Ciao America TV series.

Image courtesy The Kitchen Sisters 

Here The Kitchen Sisters, who produce the Hidden Kitchen NPR series, share an audio clip of Lou and his thoughts on swimming, cooking, and life:

Dear Friends,

Lou "The Glue" Marcelli died at 3:00 this morning. He was 85 years old.

Many of you may remember Lou from the first Hidden Kitchens story. Lou was the "Commodore" of the Dolphin Club, one of the oldest swimming and rowing clubs on the West Coast, open since 1877. Lou lived at the club and cooked nightly for the old timers, the bachelors, for those without a family to go home to. His calamari was legendary.

Image courtesy Susanne Friedrich Image courtesy Susanne Friedrich 

Every day he would put on his bikini trunks, bathing cap, and goggles and plunge into the cold waters of the bay. "The main thing is to look it in the eye and go," Lou told us as we shivered on the shore and took our first swim with him. "You don't have to swim to Alcatraz, just go."

Lou's words have become one of the sayings we repeat to each other anytime we are nervous or afraid or about to take a big plunge. "Just look it in the eye and go."

Swim in peace, Lou. We thank you for your story, for your cooking and your advice.

Here is Lou if you want to listen.

With love,

Davia & Nikki


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