Doc Paskowitz, California surfing legend, dies at 93

Picture posted by the Paskowitz Surf Camp.

Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, patriarch of the "first family of surfing" and said by Surfer Today to have "lived the ultimate surfing life," died Monday in Newport Beach. That is not far from the sands of San Onofre Beach where Paskowitz and his wife raised nine children and the family operated a surfing camp that introduced thousands to the water. From the Orange County Register obituary:

As a Stanford-trained physician, Paskowitz also provided medical care around the world and, at times, tried to use surf culture as a way to foster peace in the Middle East.

He knew early what he wanted. Born in Texas, Paskowitz wasn’t yet a teenager when he persuaded his mother to move to Southern California, saying the change in climate would help his chronic asthma. His plea included a newspaper photo of two surfers riding a wave at a mellow break at San Onofre.

Over the decades, Paskowitz was an occasional object of media attention. The New York Times once dubbed his clan “the first family of surfing,” and a 2007 documentary, “Surfwise,” looked at Paskowitz’s life.

The film raised questions about the decision by Paskowitz and his wife, Juliette, to raise and home-school their nine children in a 24-foot trailer on the sands of San Onofre. Paskowitz rejected traditional education for his children, saying true knowledge came from real-world experiences.

Paskowitz graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1946 and in the 1950s moved to Israel and tried to "get Arabs and Jews surfing together." Surfing icon Kelly Slater visited Paskowitz in his final days and, per the Register, posted on Instagram that his friend's "biggest wish was to see peace in Gaza between Israel and Palestine...(He) always believed that those who could surf together, could live together peacefully.”

The family announced the death on their website with these words:

He lived a long and full life filled with love, humor, generosity, and sincerity. In honor of Doc remember to celebrate life, follow your dreams, never compromise, be passionate!

Live Life to the Fullest! Surf more!

And stay away from refined sugar!

Aloha Doc

Sports Illustrated yesterday re-posted a 1996 story about the Paskowitz family by LA writer David Davis, who writes "the story of the Paskowitz clan has taken on mythic proportions in the surfing community." Excerpt:

In Southern California, where the sun shines early and often, and the waves curl beachward in gently precise tubes, summer days were invented for surfing. Since 1972, the Paskowitz family--Dorian; his wife, Julieta; their sons, David, Jonathan, Abraham, Israel, Moses, Adam, Salvador and Joshua; and their daughter, Navah--has run this surfing camp near San Clemente, a beach town about 70 miles north of San Diego that is best known as the site of the Nixon "summer" White House. But locally San Clemente is known as the home of the first family of surfing, which teaches campers everything from how to stand up on a board to how to catch waves and how to master the ever-changing forms of "surfer-dude" speak.

The coed camp, which is for "people age nine to 90," according to the Paskowitzes, lasts one week, and there are usually eight sessions per summer. Mornings and afternoons are spent surfing at a spot called Old Man's Break, but there is plenty of time in between to eat, doze and relax, and during the week there is a foray into San Clemente to visit local surf shops. At night campers sleep in tents at San Mateo State Park, where the Paskowitzes rig up a VCR so that everyone can watch surfing and/or horror videos before passing out from exhaustion….

The children still listen closely when their father speaks about surfing and life. To Dorian, who tries to catch a wave every day, surfing is all about the allure of the cosmic wave. "A wave is the end result of vast quantities of energy striking upon the surface of the sea, pushing it down in one place, thereby making it rise up in another place," he says. "The waves that you see here start out in Antarctica at about 80 feet. By the time they get here, they're the most well-fashioned, beautifully sculpted things in the world. And when you hook yourself to this enormous atmospheric energy that's so cosmic and so vast, something in that primordial beginning washes off onto you, and you become a part of it."

Camp dismissed.

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