VLADIMIR LIGDAMale View treeBorn: 1881-10-11Died: 1940-09-18
Children: none

Victor was born in Paris at the family house on 4 Rue Halle (1st Dist.). There is no record of his schooling in France, but as there was compulsory education for all children 6 – 13, it is likely he attended school in France before his family emigrated to the United States in 1889 when he was 7 years old. He received a public education in the United States. He earned his diploma from Clawson Grammar School in Oakland in 1896 (age 14) and graduated from Oakland High School in 1900 (age 18). He attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1900, graduating in 1904 with a degree in agriculture.

Victor developed an early interest in athletics. He is pictured with the 1895 Oakland “Y” Track Team. While in high school, he was on the track team competing in the 440, shot put, and relay. In college, he was on the wrestling team and was vice president of the wrestling club. He was on the track team all four years, lettering in at least two years: 1901 and 1904. He won the 440 in a dual meet with Stanford on 4/20/01 in 52:8. He also competed in the shot put, placing second in that event on College Championship Field Day on 3/30/01 (he was third in the 100 and 440 on the same day); and third in the same event on University Championship Field Day on 4/8/03. His interest and participation in athletics continued after his graduation. On 8/5/05, he wrote from Portland, Oregon: “Am having a fine time. Have won two medals.”

Victor was in school when his father died in 1902. He helped with the sale of property and his mother’s move to 675 33rd St., Oakland where he too lived from time to time.  1

After leaving school, Victor apparently went into a partnership with his brothers, Paul, Alec, and Pete, in the manufacturing of a boiler compound from eucalyptus oils. The plant was in San Rafael, near several groves of eucalyptus trees. By all accounts, the compound worked, but there was not enough demand so that profits would support all four brothers. Apparently some ill feeling developed between Victor and Paul, who characterized his brother as “disagreeable.” Both left the business in 1906. Paul left to take a job in Las Vegas, Nevada. Victor left to do post graduate work at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona Territory, where he also began his teaching career at a salary of $1,000/year. He wrote on 11/12/06 that he was playing trombone in an orchestra and speaking Spanish.

In 1907, his father’s estate was distributed equally among his widow and each of the six children. Each share was worth over $2,200 – over two years salary. Victor gave his share to his mother. He was the only child to do so.

In 1908, Victor returned to teach at the University of California at a salary of $1,500/year. He lived with his mother, contributing to her support. He was listed as an Asst. Professor of Physical Culture and coach of the wrestling team. His successor, Richard Lee, called Victor’s 1911 team the fastest on the coast. He characterized Victor as: ” . . . a strong wrestler and an excellent teacher.” Nothing indicates Victor had any interest in the family business when it failed in 1912; or that the failure had anything to do with his decision to leave the University in 1913.

From a series of post cards, it seems Victor then spent about a year as a member of a traveling theater company. He had some acting experience while in college. He wrote from Reno on March 30, 1913, from San Diego on 4/2, from Tulare on 4/3 saying: ” . . . sleep on the Pullmans the next 4 days.” and from San Jose on 4/15.

In 1914, he took a teaching position at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles at a salary of $1,640/year. With the exception of the WW I years, when he taught French at a War School, he continued teaching at the secondary school level the rest of his professional life. The high school manuals of 1914 and 1915 show him as a member of the Physical Training Department. In 1915, he was coach of the swimming team. His addresses in Los Angeles were 905 Grand Avenue, 1347 So. Hill Street, and 133 W. 21st Street.

In 1920 and 1921, he taught physical training at San Diego High School at a salary of $2,100/year. In the summer of 1921, he moved to 1414B 10th Street, Honolulu. His reason for the move is unknown. 2 He immediately earned a teaching credential and secured a position at McKinley High School where he remained until 1932. School records show that he was criticized in 1931 for failing to do move to promote McKinley High. This may have had something to do with his transfer to Roosevelt High School where he taught from 1932 to 1934. During the Great Depression, he joined other teachers in authorizing a 10% cut in teacher salaries in an effort to retain all teaching positions. He is shown as living at 1641 Kapuni Road in 1924 and at 1931 Young Street in 1930 and 1931.

While in Honolulu, Victor worked toward his MA at the University of Hawaii, earning 26 units in history, education, and sugar technology. These courses are indicative of his varied interests. He felt French and History were his best subjects, but he taught all the social sciences, algebra, and coached swimming and diving. He was regarded an excellent speaker. He was also an avid stamp collector.

Throughout his life, Victor maintained his interest in athletics. He played tennis and was an excellent swimmer and diver. He was Secretary of the AAU (for which he received $25/month). He refereed boxing once a week at the Scofield Army Barracks. One of his few extravagances was a large car which he used to transport athletes to sporting events. He often loaned money to athletes who might otherwise have to give up competition. He was highly commended by school authorities for his contributions to the community coaching sports.

Victor had a prodigious appetite. He would sometimes buy 3 pounds of hamburger and eat it at a single setting. His eating habits dictated a portly shape even his active life could not keep under control.

Altho his nephew, Ted, recalls that Victor married his “housekeeper,” there is no evidence he ever married. His friend, Mrs. Fullard-Leo, says he was friendly and cordial, but simply didn’t have a romantic interest in women. Ted felt his Uncle Victor was a “real loner.”

To supplement his teaching income, Victor purchased land in Oahu’s Paua Valley where he built some rental units. In 1934, he transferred to Hilo High School on the Big Island. He remained three years, living at the Hilo Boarding School. He requested a transfer back to Honolulu in 1937 because his rental units needed supervision. On his return, he taught at Farrington High School. He lived at 1641 Young Street and then 1509 Young Street.

In February, 1940, Victor requested retirement. It was to be effective August 31, after which he planned a six month tour of the Orient. When he returned, he said he would move to some small island where he could read the many books he found no time to read during his active life. He postponed the trip for an operation at Queens Hospital, Honolulu. The operation was successful. While recuperating, he had his good friends, Lee Orwig and Mrs. E. Fullard-Leo, 3 bring him food to supplement what he considered an inadequate hospital diet. On September 18, he got out of bed against his doctor’s advice, collapsed, and died unexpectedly before help could arrive.

Victor’s holographic will left his entire estate, valued at $32,265, to his sister, Valentine. The estate included his stamp collection valued at $4,200, stocks valued at $3,400, notes valued at $2,500, real estate at Bolina Ranch, Kaimuki valued at $11,265, and $10,300 in cash.


  1. Victor is shown at that address in the Oakland City Directories for 1904 thru 1906.
  2. The move may have coincided with the 1921 AAU Swimming Championship held in the newly opened War Memorial Natatorium in Kapiolani Park – a meet in which Buster Crabbe, Johnny Weissmuller along with Hawaiian star, Don Kahanamoku, competed. The meet attracted national attention.
  3. I was fortunate enough to find Mrs. Fullard-Leo during a visit to Honolulu in 1959. She is the source of most of the information about Victor’s life in Hawaii