Longtime Solana Beach resident Catherine Kinzel dies at 88


By Kathy Day

Catherine Pearl Kinzel, who was a year old when her family moved to Solana Beach, was 88 when she died Jan. 19, 2012 — two weeks after her sister, Miltreta Hagenburger, who lived in Encinitas.

“I think they colluded in their own way to exit this life together,” said daughter Macy Kinzel of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Catherine Kinzel died at her home on Pacific Avenue, overlooking the ocean she loved.

Her father, Alan Brown, ran the gas station on Highway 101 near Acacia Street, and her mother, who later remarried, owned Brownie’s Café on Highway 101. They had moved to Solana Beach in 1924, leaving Ada, Okla., during the Dust Bowl, and eventually settling in a home on Rios Avenue.

Described by her other daughter, Laura K. Brunnell of Manhattan Beach, as a “very quiet, stately lady,” Kinzel was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years, Leroy “Dick” Kinzel. He died in 2001.

The pair met while attending beauty/barber college in San Diego and for years operated Dick’s barbershop in one end of a building in Encinitas and Catherine’s salon in the other.

“They worked and worked until they had enough money to buy a lot at 504 Pacific Ave. (in Solana Beach) and build their dream home,” Brunnell said. But because her mother wanted to be closer to the ocean, they sold that home 15 years ago and purchased another home on the bluff side at 325 Pacific Ave.

Macy said her mother had two endearing traits – flirting and sweeping.

She loved to walk along the beach and cat with the young lifeguards, a habit that annoyed her husband so much that he kept an eye on her from their deck with binoculars.

“But I think it made him love her more,” she added.

She also was compulsive about everything and swept the deck all the time. Part of her routine included scratching her beloved cats’ backs with the broom.

Both daughters described their mom as a “Father Knows Best” woman who did her hair and put on a “fancy dress” for dinner each day. Macy recalled that she always had a cocktail ready for their dad when he came home and the kids were outside playing so he could relax. They regularly ate dinner as a family — and never did a frozen meal touch their table.

Often their mom would walk down the block to get lobster from the fishermen and they always had avocados from their grandmother’s grove, Macy said.

Even after closing her salon, Kinzel tended to the hair and beauty needs of many of her neighbors.

She worked for a time in the salon owned by another neighbor, Marie Gilbert, who said they were among the “oldtimers” of Solana Beach.

Her friend loved to walk, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, Gilbert said.

Until two years ago, Kinzel walked three miles a day and swam regularly at the Sand Pebbles Resort “where everyone knew her,” Brunell said.

After that, she still walked, although she cut the route to about a mile, Macy added.

She also “stayed connected with the Solana Beach gang,” Brunnelll noted, often dining with them at Tony’s Jacal. She was involved with the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church and the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce.

A graduate of San Dieguito High School, she was named the most beautiful girl in her class. Someone from Life magazine spotted a photo of her, Brunnell recalled. “They came and took photos of her and put her on the cover.”

People often said she looked like Jackie Kennedy Onassis, she added.

As a young woman, she was one of the first “cigarette girls” at the Del Mar racetrack, Macy added.

Kinzel is survived by her two daughters and five grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband and son George.

A memorial gathering was held Jan. 22 at the Kinzel home.