Mayor Kevin Faulconer presented a proclamation proclaiming May 10, 2018 as “Gordon and Smith Day in the City of San Diego.”
“This is a special place, and we’re here to honor a very special person [Gordon] who made a huge difference,” said Faulconer, before asking for a moment of shared silence to take in the ocean view.
Noting world-renowned Gordon and Smith surf shop is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Faulconer said, “This represents the best of our San Diego community.”
The mayor’s sentiment was echoed by surf pastor Mike MacIntosh. “Those of us close to Larry knew him as a father, loyal husband and deep friend,” MacIntosh said. “The two greatest assets we have are our friends and our family.”
MacIntosh said Gordon “was a man who wanted to see people find heaven. I think in heaven he probably has a bigger bench where he’s sitting right now.”
Gordon’s widow, Gayle, described the ceremony as “like being in heaven with all of our best friends … my life is kind of tied up here. Larry asked me to marry him down on the beach.”
Gordon died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease in 2016 at age 76. He and fellow local surfer Floyd Smith started making surfboards out of Smith’s garage. They were one of the first to bring polyurethane foam boards – easier to ride than balsa wood – to San Diego, a trend that helped bring surfing to a wider demographic in the 1960s and ’70s.
Malcolm was a local teacher and original beach boy who rode San Diego's waves in the ’30s. He died of cancer at age 70 in Mission Beach during the 1990s.
“Surfing was once outlawed in San Diego,” said District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf at the ceremony. “It was the newly formed WindanSea Surf Club (Gordon was a member) that dressed up in suits and successfully asked the City Council to lift the surfing ban on San Diego beaches. Tourmaline Surf Park was created as a result.”
Mickey Stonier, a chaplain for San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, implored people to follow Gordon’s example in “keeping the foundation steady – you’re faith, your family, your friendships … the things that really matter.”
Stonier described the two dedicated benches as “not just beautiful, but a memorial of a life well lived.”
“His love for his city, family and friends has touched all of our lives,” said MacIntosh of Gordon.