Cover photo for Herbert Boughey Nolan's Obituary
Herbert Boughey Nolan Profile Photo
1934 Herbert 2023

Herbert Boughey Nolan

June 25, 1934 — November 22, 2023



Herb Nolan peacefully passed away on November 22, 2023, at his beloved home in Ketchum Idaho. 

Herb moved with his single mother, Helen, and three siblings, Ben, Dick, and Mary from Michigan to Laguna Beach in 1946. Although the Nolans lacked resources, Herb felt enriched growing up in Laguna. He thrived at diving, surfing, racing hotrods and other mischief with his Sultan “gang”, and finding inspiration from Coach Guyer. Herb graduated LBHS in 1952 and then from Orange Coast College in 1954.  After spending the winter surfing Oahu’s north-shore big waves and summers lifeguarding in Laguna, Herb enlisted in the USMC to become a pilot. He graduated top of his class and was stationed at El Toro flying in the F8 fighter wing.  While on a Summer training flight, Herb regretfully gave a low-level flyby to his buddies at Oak Street Beach that caused numerous Laguna windows to blowout when he hit his afterburner and pulled straight up.  The Marines reprimanded Herb to the East Coast where his adventures continued, including ejecting from a mid-air collision during an aerial dogfight.  The Marines allowed Herb to return to Laguna for his brother Dick’s memorial from a crash on the Coast Hwy and Emerald Bay dip.  

After completing his USMC duty, Captain Nolan flew commercial for a year out of Chicago but found this type of flying too routine.  He quickly picked up the thrill of skiing and while on the ski patrol at Alta Utah found his future wife, Diana/ “Josh”, crashing down the mountain.  The newlyweds spent their winters at the Peruvian Lodge in Alta and Summers commercially diving for abalone at San Clemente Island with Josh tending the compressor on the surface while Herb searched for abs in his metal helmet and boots on the bottom.  

The Nolans decided they needed a safer profession to raise a family in Laguna, so Herb started working for Peggy Taylor as a real estate agent in 1962 and then opened his own office, Nolan Real Estate. Herb hired his first agent in 1968 and built a team of young professional agents with many remaining active in the community today. Soon Nolan Real Estate was the most productive office in Laguna with 40 agents. 

The Nolans had become a family of four with Steve arriving in 1963 and Daniel in 1966. Herb became an active dad with countless trips to San Onofre with the VW bus packed with neighborhood kids and surfboards. There were also surf camping trips to Baja with other Laguna families where Herb taught the kids the skills to enjoy the rewards of nature.  Herb also continued his love of flying by taking family ski trips across the West and landings on Baja beaches in the family’s plane.  

After an amicable divorce, Herb sold Nolan Real Estate and retired at 45. He set off trekking the Himalayas and then was reintroduced to Collen/ “Gail” who he originally met while lifeguarding in Laguna. Gail and Herb moved to New Zealand for a year to oversee the building of their 50’ Catamaran. They spent the next four years sailing the South Pacific to Alaska and then back to Laguna. 
In 1999, now married, the Nolans moved to Ketchum Idaho and built their dream home with a beautiful view of Sun Valley ski resort. In 2010, Herb’s love, Gail, succumbed to stomach cancer. Herb’s need for thrills never stopped, he skied competitively until he was 87 in slalom and GS events in Sun Valley and traveled to events with the Masters race team.  Herb joked that he usually won his age group since everyone else was gone or too smart to be pushing the envelope while flying down the mountain.  

Herb is survived by his two sons and five grandchildren. Herb did not want any fuss when he passed but hoped that those he touched would give him a nod when they turn their adventure dreams into action.  His ashes will be spread by his family next to Gail’s overlooking the mountains.   

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