Memorial Celebration Photos for Frank Ciarelli | Huntington Beach, CA Photographer | Huntington Beach Pier

They say you can always tell how a person lived their life by the turn out at their memorial service. And if that’s the case, then Frank Ciarelli lived a beautiful and full life — one filled with an abundance of family and friends who loved and cared for him deeply during his 85+ years on this earth.

It was almost a year ago when Tommy and I had the pleasure of photographing Frank and Sue and their wonderful family. Though it was my first time meeting most of the Ciarelli family, for Tommy, it was an opportunity to reconnect with people he spent a lot of time with growing up in Huntington Beach, CA. I remember waking up the morning of their shoot to heavy rain and overcast skies and wondering if they would reschedule, but they decided to push through because it was a time when the entire family would be together (it’s a large group!), but most importantly because the patriarch of their family — Frank — had just been diagnosed with Leukemia. So these photos were really important to all of them.

Rain and chilly weather didn’t dampen their spirits, and I’m so glad they decided not to postpone. Frank and Sue have been married for 65 years …

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This past weekend, we had the honor of photographing Frank Ciarelli’s memorial — a special celebration that began at sunset with a huge gathering at the start of the Huntington Beach Pier, followed by a procession to the end of the pier led by St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band along with a paddle out to sea, and concluded with the tossing of leis into the ocean in memory of Frank. The turnout was incredible, the love in the air was palpable and the celebration honoring his life was festive, touching and simply beautiful …

Huntington Beach Pier Memorial Photos

And because my husband knows Frank so much better than me, here are a few words he wanted to share in remembrance of this wonderful pillar in the Orange County community …

A familiar smile is what first pops into my head when I think of the man, the legend, Frank Ciarelli. As a gangly scrawny sophomore at HBHS back in 1990, I was fortunate enough to have Rocky (Frank’s son) as a coach on varsity basketball and that is when I had the pleasure of meeting Frank for the first time. It began then and never changed … the warm, kind, engaging and familiar smile that I would become accustomed to as he sat in the stands for many basketball games and volleyball matches throughout my HB career. The Godfather of Huntington Beach, never actually acted anything like Robert De Niro or Marlon Brando, he was a gentleman and always had time to sit, talk and find out how you and you family were doing. 

That was who Frank was, a man that cared greatly about his community.

I am very familiar with the loss the Ciarelli family has to endure. I too, lost my father a few years ago. And as I was being long winded during my father’s memorial recalling different anecdotes and stories, who do I lock eyes with and receive a familiar smile from? None other than Frank Ciarelli accompanied by Rocky and Alison. That is just a small example of a genuine gesture that demonstrated the class and selflessness of Frank Ciarelli. And when I fondly think back to all the memories of this incredible soul, all I can do is smile.

— Tommy Walden

Here are some of our images from this beautiful celebration of life …

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To read Frank Ciarelli’s obituary, click here.

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  • October 9, 2015 - 2:11 pm

    Sherrie Triplett - Beautiful photos and a day to remember.

  • October 9, 2015 - 9:10 pm

    Sharon wiggs - besutiful pictures of my uncles memorial
    Thank you

  • October 10, 2015 - 8:02 am

    Mark Pynchon - What a great day ……… and I had to work.

  • October 14, 2015 - 4:19 pm

    Beverley Barnes - AWESOME TRIBUTE!!!

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