Photo by David Pu’u
Jeff White 1938 – 2010
Sandyland resident Jeff White passed away Friday, December 10, 2010, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Jeff was a lifelong waterman who was very much a part of early Santa Barbara surfing, influencing many young surfers through the years. He founded White Owl Surfboards, the Surf-N-Wear chain of surf shops, and he cofounded the Beach House with Roger Nance. He was a Velzy gremmie in his early years in Hermosa Beach. He was a Carpenteria lifeguard from 1958 to 1961 and was proud to have never had a fatality during his watch. He won many a dory racing championship with his rowing partner, Paul Hodgert. Starting the Rincon Classic was just one of the many ways Jeff mentored younger generations of Santa Barbara surfers. He truly loved people, and his big regret upon retiring was not to be in daily contact with the people who visited his shops. Jeff produced top-quality surfboards at White Owl, everything done in-house — he even blew his own foam in the back yard. He used the best materials and stood behind his product, employing such craftsmen as Stan “the Birdman” Veith, Tom Rowland, Brian Bradley, Tom Hale, Phil Becker, and Marc Andreini. In the mid-1990s, Jeff gave permission to two of his original gremmies, Andreini and Gregg Tally (who learned how to make a board under Jeff’s guidance), to revive the White Owl logo. Today, White Owl Surfboards and its surf team are still going strong, almost 50 years later. Jeff was unique, a truly wonderful person, and if you knew Jeff or got to meet him, you were truly blessed. He will be missed by many, loved by all, forgotten by none.