Aloha: Among the South Bay Surf community losses

Don Guild and Kappa Sigma fraternity brother Bob Jones in 1946, or 1947, before his dive buddies Bob and Bill Meistrell invented the modern wetsuit. Photos courtesy of the Guild family

Waterman, businessman Don Guild

Don Guild was a waterman and skier who helped pay his way through USC by diving for lobster and selling them to neighbors. He continued windsurfing and skiing into his late 80s. Guild passed away of natural causes at his Hermosa Beach home in March 2023, at age 95.

Guild and his wife Barbara founded The Guild Drug and the Guild Antique stores. Their son Whitney is a big wave rider and was inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame in 2007.

Kevin Sousa performing with Jamison at Spyder Surf Fiesta in 2014. Photo by Kevin Cody

Kevin Sousa set beach life soundtrack

Kevin Sousa cast a wide net prior to succumbing to melanoma in May 2024, just a few weeks after performing with his Kevin Sousa Band at the BeachLife Music Festival in Redondo Beach. The singer/songwriter/guitarist owned the Hermosa Music Studio and was also a psychologist who served as clinical Director of the Jimmy Miller Foundation. In his younger years, he was a Mira Costa High surf coach, a Shark’s Cove bartender, and a touring musician.

 

A Bing pintail with pinstriping by Dave Hollander from the late 70s, when Hollander was a high school student at Rolling Hills High. Photo courtesy of the Hollander family

Becker Surf co-founder Dave Hollander

Dave Hollander began working in the surfboard industry as a pinstriper for Bing Copeland when he was 15. At the time he left the surfboard industry in 2010 he was co-owner with surfboard shaper Phil Becker and glasser Steve Mangiagli of seven Southern California surfboard shops with 170 employees.

In 2000, “Transworld Surf” named Hollander one of the surf industry’s seven most influential people. 

“Phil, Steve and Dave were a perfect team,” recalled longtime Becker Surf employee Fred Williams. “If you asked Phil how the future looks, he’d say, ‘I don’t know. We might be out of business tomorrow.’ Ask Steve and he’d tell you the way it was. Ask Dave, and he’d say, ‘We’re going to conquer the world.’

Hollander passed away Friday, November 3, 2023 at his home in Palm Springs, after a decade-long fight with cancer. He was 72.

 

Surf instructor Vince Ray, pictured in 2003, was Easy Reader’s Surfing Santa for over 20 years. Photo by Ray Vidal

Surf instructor Vince Ray

As director of the Hermosa Surf Camp from 1991 to 2024, Vince Ray shared the stoke of surfing with more groms than anyone else in South Bay history. Each summer over 400 kids attended his camp in front of the 10th Street lifeguard tower, just south of the Hermosa Beach pier. Kids learned not only to stand on a surfboard, but also  to read the ocean, surfing etiquette, and some unconventional maneuvers like the coffin, the cockroach and Ray’s signature model pose.

Every holiday season, Ray further shared the stroke as Easy Reader’s Surfing Santa. He made sure Santa was in perfect trim on an overhead wave for the photo that would appear on the cover of Easy Reader’s holiday issue.

“I don’t want people to think Santa is a kook,” Ray said in explaining why it was so important  that the surf be good on the day of hisSanta shoot. 

Ray passed away Wednesday morning, January 4, 2024 at age 66,  after a brief fight with pancreatic cancer.

 

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand was an avid swimmer. Photo by JP Cordero

Bill Brand was Redondo Mayor

Bill Brand may have been the most accomplished waterman in the history of South Bay elected officials. He swam the Two Mile International Surf Festival and surfed around the world using flight privileges from the airline he worked for. 

Brand was elected twice to the Redondo Beach City Council and twice to the Redondo Mayor’s seat. During the course of his political career he led the fight to close the Redondo Beach Power plant. He presided over its decommissioning on New Year’s Eve 2023, and succumbed in February to a four-year battle with stage four lung cancer. He was 65.

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