Goleta - Santa Barbara - Carpinteria, Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Jeff White’s Memorial Paddle-Out at Leadbetter Beach

By Jon Shafer

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Friends and loved ones of Jeff White gathered today at Leadbetter Beach.


    In an amazing display of both love and respect under bright and sunny skies, friends and loved ones of legendary local waterman Jeff White celebrated his life in a moving memorial paddle-out ceremony today in Santa Barbara.  Hundreds of people who were at some point in time in their lives touched by the warmth and genuine love of this human being came together in a time-honored Hawaiian tradition sharing aloha and spreading the stoke that was the true life energy of Jeff White.  Below is a collection of images captured today at the event for those who were unable to attend to see.

Aloha Nui Loa,
Santa Barbara Surfer

Multimedia Slideshow Photos: Jon Shafer & Steve Bissell

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View L Paul Mann’s GoPro Shots From Today’s Paddle-Out



Beach House courtesy photo (top)  Jon Shafer photos (above)

Pain and Loss Felt By Many Here in Santa Barbara Surfing Community


White Owl LogoLegendary Santa Barbara waterman Jeff White passed away a couple of days ago, and the local surfing community is reeling in sadness from the loss of one of Earth’s finest, and a pioneer in the world surf merchandising and retailing.  Starting with a tiny little shop in Summerland and evolving into “Surf ‘N Wear” with locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and San Luis Obispo, to the current megastore now known “The Beach House” positioned at the foot of State St. downtown, White’s legacy in the local community is multidimensional — from wetsuit and surf wear sales impresario (Jeff became very close to Jack O’Neil and was one of the top O’Neil Wetsuit retailers for many years) to board shaping and production magnate. And, long before the Internet, cell phones, and Surfline — before the science-based swell forecasts of the postmodern era — there was Jeff White’s voice on his “State of the Sea Report,” an early morning daily broadcast on local station KTYD that was a mainstay for years.  Beyond retailing, White was also the vision and drive behind several local surf contests, the most famous being the annual “Rincon Classic” that still runs to this day.  Just ask any surfer under the age of 40, and they will invariably tell you that at one time or another they either purchased a surfboard or their first wetsuit from Jeff.

Besides the business acumen that Jeff possessed, it was perhaps his altruistic and caring personality that he will be remembered for most.  Writes longtime local Bob Hazard. “I Didn’t know Jeff as a close friend, but we ran into each other a lot.  He was one of the kindest humans that God ever created.  Not a mean bone in his body. Should all of us be so gifted.  Ever read Ishmael? Jeff was on of that small minority of humans called Givers”.  Writes Kathy Riggs, “My first bonified job was working for Jeff at Surf n Wear on Carrillo.  He just explained things, spent a couple hours with me finding out if I could count and write receipts, then left.  I learned about trust from him.  Thank you, Jeff.  Peace be you.”  Writes Jeff McCorkle:  “My Friend Jeff, I remember the day in second grade at North school in Hermosa Beach , when the teacher told us to go to the front steps of the school for a class picture.  As some students were very tall for there age it was decided that the tallest would sit on the ground at the bottom of the steps, Jeff was told to sit there.  The picture was taken and there was Jeff , his knees up in the air, feet on the ground.  His knees were higher than his head, only one in the class like that.  It took Jeff a few years to grow in to those legs but he did. Every time I mentioned that picture to him over the years he always had a big laugh.  Jeff was always very concerned about all the boys he knew when he owned Surf n Wear, one being my boy Dana.  “How’s Dana doing?’’ was a common question.  Jeff wanted all of his ‘‘Boys’’ to grow up and be good men, which I believe they all did, a lot because of Jeff keeping them on a straight course.  This was more important to Jeff than his own health, which he always had a smile to the end.  That’s my friend Jeff White.”  Lasty, from Tucker Stevens:  “I met Jeff White when I was 16 years old.  I was surfing near his house.  After I was through, he let me take a hot shower in his beachouse.  Our friendship continued for 54 years.  Jeff and I shared many wonderful memories over those exciting years.  I will miss this true and valued friend. Aloha, Jeff.”  Sunday Rylander remembers, “Jeff was the first person to give me a job.  I worked at Surf n Wear and he was such a kind person.”  Former World Surfing Champion Kim Mearig recalls, “Jeff sold me my first wetsuit at Surf ‘N Wear on Carrillo street in 1975. R.I.P Jeff.”  And lastly, Char Harris (Lockerbie) writes, “Jeff really was a good guy. He was (both) fun and funny.  He also was very practical and especially loyal.  It really was an honor to work at Surf ‘n Wear in the early 70’s, Jeff always looked out for us girls.  Jeff was a good friend. and I will miss him…”

Photo of Jeff taken by David Pu’u on October 16, 2008, inside his oceanfront home in Sandyland


Paul and Jeff Dory Racing Photo: Courtesy of Tucker Stevens

Jeff White - Santa Barbara Legend Passes Away

Words: Bruce Fowler

Jeffrey D. White quietly passed away yesterday. He was my partner and friend for many years and will be deeply missed.  The first time I met Jeff, was at a small wood shack of a surf shop along the two lane strip that runs along Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz.  He was a tall slender man of around 25 years of age with a building full of O’Neill Wetusits that he would rent out by the hour or the day.  It was Christmas time, and I was about 8 years old.  My family had a ritual of spending alternate Christmas times with my Uncle Brad’s family who lived in nearby Felton.  My mom rented a vest for me for around $3.00, and I can remember telling my brother I was so warm I could stay out all day!

It wasn’t until years later that I would meet Jeff again.  After owning my first surf shop at the ripe old age of 17, I was asked by Char Lockerbie, then the manager of Jeff’s “Surf n Wear” shop on Carrillo Street, to work for them upon returning from an extended surf safari in Central America.  I jumped at the chance, and became one of the three employees that, along with Jeff, and Char’s sister, Chris, would become the face of Surf “n Wear’s 1970’s history, and a cornerstone to other local surf shops to follow.

Although Jeff is well known and remembered for being the creator of “Owl Surfboards” with partner Brian Bradley in Summerland during the early 60’s, he is perhaps more noted for being a powerhouse lifeguard and dory racer with teammate Paul Hodgert

I would watch ABC Television’s “Wide World of Sports” coverage of “The United State Surfing Championships” held every year at Huntington Beach, California.  Every year Hodgert & White would get in their dory and come out on top while battling through frequently huge surf by the pier to round the outside buoy, position themselves carefully in the lineup, then catching and riding a wave in with the dory, to finally land the unwieldy vessel, jump out and run up the beach to the finish line.  Paul and Jeff dominated the entire decade!

Jeff was never supposed to live this long.  He had been afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis previous to my working with him (1971-79), and after consulting with many doctors that presented a hopeless outlook for him, he found one doctor that offered hope through a stringent and demanding diet and therapy.  Jeff faithfully followed those instructions. As he told me, “I went from crawling on all fours in the sand, to eventually walking, then finally running”.

Jeff’s success story with MS resulted with many people stricken with the disease being brought by to meet Jeff at our shop, thereby providing them with inspiration.

Jeff will be remembered as a dear friend, a business partner that I learned much from, and a real piece of work that all those guys from the Gidget era seem to possess.  On any given day Jeff would have Char, Chris and myself crying with tears of laughter or just shaking our heads at whatever cornball stint he could come up with next   Jeff was truly one of a kind…

Long may you ride Jeffrey.

Bruce Fowler aka DS


Steve Bissell photo of “The Pit”; Jeff White standing at rear, young Davey Smith in front


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.

Courtesy Photo

JEFF WHITE (1938 - 2010)  “Life with The White Owl” by Bruce Fowler

    Surfers have a way of lavishing the word “Legend” upon one another when an individual has performed well or achieved something noteworthy within the surfing community. If a surfer is able to repeat the act or effort year after year, the legend seems to take on a life of its own and grows even larger than life. Such is the case with Jeffrey D. White, a longtime resident of Carpinteria and a man who has touched many lives within our community.

    As I write this, our local surfing community are making plans and setting others aside to attend a Thursday morning paddle out at Ledbetter Beach. This is the ultimate tribute that surfers make to one another, as was the case when world class surfer Andy Irons passed away unexpectedly shortly before Jeff. 

    Jeff’s passing will not command the world wide paddle outs that Andy’s did, but his story and legendary status is equally well deserved. As a young man born in 1938, Jeff would become the quintessential surfer boy of his day in a post World War II Southern California. The early day “kook boxes” featuring a hollow construction with veneered plywood replacing the hundred pound redwoods, but they would soon fall away to lighter balsa,  and finally lighter yet as the advent of polyurethane foam began making surfing more accessible to the masses. This included one small girl that became smitten with the idea of riding waves with the guys. She was half girl, half midget, so they called her “Gidget”.  Jeff was in with a wild and wooly crowd of early day wave riders that locals like Frayne Higgason and Reynolds Yater could tell you stories about to this day.  I have no doubt they would tell you this was a pretty crazy lot, not too unlike a group of buckaroos hitting the saloon after a dry and dusty cattle drive. There were more than a few that lived fast and died young! 

    Jeff, or “The White Owl” as some came to call him,  fit right in with the colorful characters of his era.. Guys like Mickey “Da Cat’ Dora, “Tubesteak”, and Greg “The Bull” Noll. There was Dewey Weber, “The Little Man on Wheels”, Bob “The Greek” Bolen, and a whole host of others.  Noll, Weber, and Bolen became early day surfboard builders, and went on to establish successful businesses that are still around today.

    Jeff was a smart man, and aside from all the fun, he managed to attend and graduate college with a business degree. It wasn’t long before he had set up a wetsuit rental business in a clapboard shack along the two lane road that flanked Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz.  It was there that I met him for the first time. I was just beginning my surfing career at the ripe old age of eight. Jeff was about twenty five then, a young engaging man, who had met and befriended Jack O’neill, the father of the modern day wetsuit. Jeff bought a smattering of what Jack had to offer in those early days; mostly vests, a few shortjohns, and beaver tail jackets. He found a location, and he was in business! Little did Jeff know that his relationship with Jack O’neill would propel him into a business that would carry him for the rest of his life.

    Except not that day, as the vest my mother rented for me cost all of three bucks, which Jeff pulled down from a rack high up near the ceiling with a long pole. While en route to us,the vest fell on the floor, but I was so excited to wear my first wetsuit ever,  I could have cared less that the floor was dirt and the place was a rickety wood shack reinforced with chicken wire over some holes in the walls. I would not be surprised to learn Jeff slept there at night to protect his early day investment. I still recall remarking to my brother that I was so warm with the vest on, that I could stay out the entire day!

    The next time I would meet Jeff would be after his move to Summerland somewhere around the late 50’s. There are abundant stories about Yater’s red shack that sat higher up the hill above Jeff’s “White Owl” shop down on the main drag. Just imagine, two surf shops in Summerland, I doubt that will ever happen again! Jeff took over a building that would eventually become “The Nugget”, but for a good time, it was home to the “White Owl Surfboard.” Some claim the name came from the boards having the same shape as “White Owl” cigars, but Jeff dismissed that recently. Jeff and Brian Bradley not only built the boards start to finish, but blew their own foam blanks from concrete molds. Jeff told me they would bed down with Army blankets in the molds that were still warm from the days production

    Jeff also became a lifeguard, and along with rowing partner Paul Hodgert, they paddled their way into surfing history, although not on surfboards, but by navigating a dory boat through huge waves at many “United States Surfing Championships” held each year at Huntington Beach. Every year I would sit and watch “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” as Hodgert and White would row their dory over mountains of whitewater in a race with other top level lifeguards. Once outside the break, they would round the buoy and turn for home. Then came the tricky part; to time and catch a wave on one of the unwieldy boats, avoid broadsiding before landing ashore, then dashing the last fifty yards in sand to victory. Against all odds, Jeff and Paul did this year after year, and were always the crowd favorite. Hodgert and White dominated an entire decade in this discipline!

    While only 17 and still in high school, I started my own surf shop in old town Goleta with a partner, Joe Mickey. After a couple years of modest success, we closed down, and I went on surfari to Central America for several months. Upon my return, Char Lockerbie, then Jeff’s manager at “Surf n Wear” asked if I would work for Jeff, who had relocated to 209 West Carrillo Street. I jumped at the chance and for the better part of the 70’s it was Jeff, Char, her sister Chris, and myself that gave a face to “Surf n Wear”. As a surfboard shaper, I immediately saw that the venerable “Owl surfboard” label had fallen along the wayside, and took it upon myself to revive the label. Jeff had some laminates printed, and by 1972 Owl’s were showing up on local beaches again. Paul Nussbaum was ripping Rincon on semi Greenough spoons I had built him, along with locals Randy Rostoker, Bruce Landecker, Dave and Mark Ingalls, Char, and many others began putting Owl’s under their arms once again.

    Old timers were always stopping in to visit Jeff, and a lot of history was shared in the Carrillo Street shop that had once been a gas station. Jeff told me he was advised not to move there because people “will never stop on their way to State Street”. Jeff proved them wrong, and in fact we remember the entire 70’s decade as the “golden years”. It was the profit from the shop that allowed Jeff to invest in rental properties on upper Bath Street and to purchase the shack closest to the water along Sand Point. He renovated that modest property and made it his home for his remaining years.

    Jeff was a real corn ball to say the least. He would come out front from his office and hob knob with customers on a regular basis. One of his favorite stints was to knowingly refer to someone’s mother as “your sister”. Everyone knew he was full of it, but they loved it nonetheless. I recall the day Kim Mearig came in to buy her first wetsuit ever. She was a timid young girl accompanied by her mother. I was doing the lion’s share of fitting wetsuits back then, so I grabbed a suit for her and told her “just go ahead and try this on, and when you’re ready open the door half way, I’ll be here and check it out for you.” So right about then, Jeff shows up and starts chatting with Kim’s mom. The next thing I know, Jeff bellows out “COME ON OUT WHEN YOU GET THAT SUIT ON YOUNG GAL AND SHOW ALL OF US”! Little did we know I was fitting the future women’s world surfing champion!

    Probably the funniest time I can remember Jeff with a customer was when I was working the front by myself on an early Monday morning. A slender bald man in his mid thirties came in looking for a swimsuit. Right about then, Jeff came walking into the front door with a cup of coffee he had gotten at the “Aloha Drive In” next door. Jeff was holding his coffee and had the habit of sticking one hand in his back pocket. He said “can I help you young fellah”? To which the guy turned directly to Jeff’s face and said “you’re plastic… you’re plastic man”.  Jeff’s hairline kind of shrunk back a bit and he turned toward me with a grin with his small teeth clenched together and he made wide eyes with raised eyebrows. He was doing everything not to break out laughing as I stood there just smiling and gently shaking my head back and forth.  That was a classic, a Jeff White classic, I tell ya!

    Like the rest of his breed from those early days, Jeff was a prankster. He loved to have Char and Chris and I down to his house on Vallecito in Carpinteria.  It would start out innocently enough, with a barbecue and some beer, but it would almost always end up with us playing strip poker with he and his wife Laura.  Chris and I were steady in those days, and Char was like my sister, so it really wasn’t an awkward situation. If anything Jeff was like our dad, but in this case, perhaps just a little bit perverted? As I recall, no one ever got down to being buck naked, but it always seemed that the girls came well prepared with something like fifteen more clothing items than Jeff and I.

    When Jeff decided we would hold a surf contest, I was promptly assigned the duty of making it happen. Char and Chris were in the shop handling all the entry forms, compiling heats and handling business as usual. I was recruiting young wannabes to help me haul down chairs, scoreboards, binoculars, foghorns, jerseys and everything else imaginable that makes for a successful surf contest while annoying beach residents and solitary beach strollers.

    The early day Rincon Classic was such a hit that we added two additional contests, with sites at “Hammond’s Reef” and “Arroyo Burro” aka “Hendry’s” aka “The Pit”.  Jeff decided I would be bestowed with the pleasure of running things. With my new found celebrity, I never bothered telling him that the first year I took a break while directing the Hammond’s contest, while I was up in the bushes looking for a secluded place to pee, I was surrounded by a small group of hardcore locals (a few that went on to become career criminals) who impressed upon me to never hold a contest there again. I told them the contest was Jeff’s baby and if they couldn’t let some kids have two days of fun out of the year “at their spot” to go talk to Jeff about it. No one ever did. 

    Faced with what I would be doing for the rest of my life, I told Jeff I wouldn’t go back to college if we could strike an agreement that would help me secure my future. We made an agreement and the age of expansion began which included new faces and places. By the end of the 70’s we had expanded the business to include Goleta, San Luis Obispo, and Thousand Oaks. We had new managers, Chris Galbraith, Steve Howell, and a young assistant manager named Roger Nance. Roger was awaiting a store to be his, and his preference was Palo Alto where his family was from. Jeff sent Roger and I to scout the area as I had done for the other shops, but when O’neill found out that we were considering expanding to Northern California, they asked if we would leave that area open for them, and focus more on southern climes. We immediately agreed to do that, as Jack had previously granted Jeff an exclusive dealership on his wetsuits. Jack had promised Jeff not to sell anyone else around Jeff’s business for a thirty mile radius. This was a closely held secret back in those days, and when I would visit the O’neill family up in Santa Cruz, their manager would show me a pile of letters from Al Merrick requesting a dealership for his Channel Islands shop including the prevailing question why their calls were never returned!

    Jeff had a limted amount of energy which was a result of his being stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. Jeff related to me how he had been given very little chance of walking again until he finally found one doctor who outlined a very specific and demanding program of diet and exercise. As he began to gain some strength, he would crawl in the sand for as long as his energy would last, as he improved, he was able to walk the beac, until he was finally able to jog on the beach he loved.

    By the time I joined Jeff, he was a well documented success story of what could be accomplished while having Multiple Sclerosis. We frequently had MS patients come by to meet and talk with Jeff, who would take the time to inspire them. But the MS had also impacted Jeff’s stamina, and he would frequently head home after half a day’s work at the shop. I was behind the scenes doing the bulk of running the business including banking, buying,selling,  training, advertising, and scouting for new locations, amongst other things. Jeff deserved the time he had left, as it had been stated to me that he would be very lucky to ever see sixty. I loved Jeff for who he was. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have had more fun being less responsible during my twenties, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I hope that by sharing some of these personal stories that you can see what kind of man Jeff was. He wasn’t a saint, but he cared about people, both young and old..  He had a tremendous sense of humor in spite of the cards dealt him, and he made the very best of every situation he was ever presented. I will miss him but will never forget the lesson he taught me: to be true to yourself and have no regrets for living your life the way you see fit.

Please feel free to post a comment below as a tribute to Jeff if you’d like…


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» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 02:34 PM

Men and women like Jeff White compel me to believe…

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 02:49 PM

The kids from our neighborhood on Las Ondas got our first boards and wetsuits from Jeff at Surf N Wear. He was the mellowest, nicest guy.

I lost track of him over the years, but trust his was a life well lived. Even at a young age I could tell he did not have a malicious bone in his body. A thoroughly nice person. RIP Jeff

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 03:17 PM

Loss of one of our great local heroes

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 03:47 PM

I was neighbors with Jeff when I was just a grom living in Carpenteria. A great family friend and someone who will be missed greatly. May he swim and surf with the dolphins for eternity.

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 04:40 PM

I have such fond memories of Jeff White.
Back in the 70’s there were not many women who surfed and when I would shop at Surf N Wear for my surf gear, Jeff and and his partner Roger would make me feel so comfortable at their shop. One summer between college semesters I got up enough courage to ask for a job and got one, I was soo stoked! Eventually, I was asked to be the manager of the Carrillo store, by the early 80’s Surf n Wear had 3 stores. I felt such enormous pride that I was a female manager of a surf shop in an industry dominated by men.
Jeff White made me feel like family and was very supportive.
Jeff White had a great sense of humor, so we had many laughs together.
One Christmas I remember singing Christmas carols outside the store with Jeff. He had us laughing so hard.
Jeff seem to always greet you with a smile and a soft touch to the shoulder.
His tall and skinny build made him seem even taller, but he was polite and gentle.
I will cherish those memories and miss such a true “gentleman”.
Susan Ledig

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 06:50 PM

Happy memories of Campus Beach, early 60s.
‘Bye, White Owl.  See you again.

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 07:36 PM

Thank you for sharing Jeff’s great life with us. I feel so fortunate to have starting working at Surf n Wear in SB as a teenager. It was the Surf n Wear next to Aloha Burger (I wish someone had a store front shot of that location). He was such a nice person and I loved being a part of the shop back then. Working with Bruce, Chris, Char, Sam, Matt, the O’Brien brothers and so many more good people. I remember that most of us had to stand on a platform of wood behind the cash wrap/display case so we could help people because it was so tall and of course it was just the right size for Jeff who seemed to tower over us. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. He was so kind to all the kids who came around the shop.

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 08:33 PM

RIP Jeff, and my condolences to his friends and family. All I ever bought from him was one wetsuit top and a few dozen bars of wax, but he sure treated me grandly.

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 09:55 PM

amazing story….... Riders on the Storm….... R. I. Peace…........thank you X

» wrote on 12.14.10 @ 10:10 PM

I Got my first Board(Matt Moore) and Wetsuit(Peak) at the Carrillo St. shop. Aloha Jeff… R.I.P.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 12:18 AM

I knew Jeff at UCSB where he was a Delt. He was a man of honor, humor and huge fun.
He was a role model during a formative period in my life and will always be remembered as one of the best.
Before wet suits he surfed Miramar in front of his rental house until after dark and came in blue for a long hot shower.
He took is board on the deck of the Schooner “Rejoice” as he and other guys including Lobo,  Jim Wolf, Captain, from UCSB sailed the boat to Tahiti for the owner.
Peace, long deserved, be with you Jeff.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 12:39 AM

I was so sad to hear of jeff’s passing. I was a loyal customer of his surf n wear store on carillo street back in the 70’s. I was in the army and got out in 1971 and wanted to get back into surfing and when I left for Viet-nam the longboard was king I came back and the shortboard had taken over. I would go into the surfshop and there would be jeff sitting behind the counter or talking to everyone coming into the store. he was pretty intimidating being so tall but he was a kind and gentle man who was always happy to talk. I bought many boards from him and also talk with bruce fowler and Char who always was helpful also. Jeff was a good man and I really never knew about his MS and being Jeff he would not let it get him down. My heart goes out to his family and also to the surfing community who grew up in and around his surfshops. ALOHA to you Jeff.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 12:52 AM

Jeff fitted me in my first custom O’Neill wetsuit at his Carrillo Surf ‘n Wear store, in 1975. The suit lasted more than 15 years, and fit like a glove thanks to his measuring skills! He was a great and will be missed…

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 01:40 AM

I am feeling deep sadness at the passing of my mentor and our close family friend.  He gave me my first job at the Carrillo Street store when I was only 14.  It was such an honor to be part of the Surf’n Wear family for 10 years. I love seeing the photo of all us kids at Hendry with Jeff. I hope you have finally found peace White Owl.  It was a real pleasure having you in my life.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 01:42 AM

I will always remember Jeff who’s kindness radiated with his big beautiful smile, warm and welcoming always!
Jeff, you will be missed and remembered with love forever smile

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 02:07 AM

I never knew Jeff personally, but I always felt a sense of Aloha every time I went into his shop. The atmosphere made me stay longer than I needed to, buy things I didn’t need and feel sorry when I had to take off.

Mahalo nui loa, brother.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 02:36 AM

A big man with a big heart, what a great guy, a privilege and an honor to know Jeff,
we were all blessed to have him in our lives. We should all learn from him to stay humble, do the right thing, and set an example.
God bless his soul.

Jerry Shalhoob…..

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 02:43 AM

aloha jeff and mahalo for your kindness to the carp groms of the 60’s on up…....you were always kind to us and always seem to care about what were were up to….
My first memories of ‘the white owl’ were at the summerland shop early 60’s of you building boards for some of the carp locals possibly, kevin sears, jeff boyd, steve soden, tony silvestri, john moyer et al.
in the subsequent years seeing you driving around carp in you jeep cherokee.
What a fantastic legacy to leave the surfing world and world at large…....
RWS, Lahaina Maui dec. 14, 2010

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 02:48 AM

From the contacts I had with Jeff under a variety of circumstances.. He smiled easy and he always sincerely wished the best in contentment, sincerity and success to be the outcome of every exchange both personal and in business.

A quietly inspirational good man.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 03:02 PM

My first memories of the White Owl were of Jeff as one of life guards at Main Beach in Carp in the late ‘50s. He shared his lunch of fried grunion..pushed me into waves on the rescue board (my first stand-up experience)...and warmly tolerated our daily pestering from June through September. He was literally a gentle giant with this super cool life style and I just knew that wanted to be like him.
Rest in peace old friend.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 03:05 PM

I’m remember Jeff when I had just moved down from Santa Cruzzzzzzzzz and was attending Brooks 1981’ish, he had started the “Santa Barbara Surf Club”, which consisted of a bunch of Mad Monkeys surfing Coal Oil. I was the designated mermaid keeping the six packs of beer on my longboard.
In exchange let’s just say various stuff from his shop was loaned out for my ingenious photo projects; one of which consisted of a new surfboard, wetsuit and ironing board!  He was generous, always encouraging and served it up with a Big Smile wink 
Peace and Love,

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 03:27 PM

Not long after I started working at Surf N’ Wear on Carrillo did I realize this guy was something special. He always made an effort to ask how I was and ask about things going on in my life, say something funny and offer us the opportunity to surf in front of his house. He was a true surfer and a above that, a cool guy.

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 07:49 PM

I will be forever humbled at the generosity Jeff showed Matt and I when we talked of opening Rincon Designs on Linden Ave in the 80’s.  It would never of happened at the level it did had it not been for Jeff.  He was a naturing father figure to us and lead by example with such grace and kindered spirit.  God bless you Jeff and your family.  See ya again someday xo

» wrote on 12.15.10 @ 10:28 PM

Jeff will be greatly missed, I bought my first board from Surf& wear back in the early 80’s followed by My wetsuits. Had a great time surfing all the Surf & wear competitions in the 80’s.Lots of good memories, Jeff Was always so nice to us kids at the events or at the shop. RIP Jeff

» wrote on 12.16.10 @ 03:13 AM

Myself and guys Like George Moore, Craig Cooke and others in the early Sixties would crash on the floor at Jeff’s OWL shop in Santa Cruz.. We were from San Mateo area.  Great Guy but never saw him again after maybe 1965 or so when he closed the shop..George, rod an OWL as I recall—which he loved..also he was a very aggressive rider for the 60’s..I was never as good—but then I did not ride a OWL…I should of as Jeff built a GREAT board.  Thanks Jeff for the great times and the hard floor to sleep on and all the memories I still have today of the great times in Santa Cruz…OH, the early 60’s.
It was a pleasure to know then and may your waves be perfect curls as you deserve…

» wrote on 12.16.10 @ 03:34 AM

Jeff lived on Palm Ave. in Carpinteria, a few doors down from me, during the mid 60’s.  I was constantly either at the beach or on my way back and forth and saw alot of Jeff and his dory racing partner, Paul, who was head lifeguard.  During this same time Carpinteria would host championship lifeguard competitions that would draw teams from as far away as Australia.  The local team would dominate in the competition, particularly in dory racing, lead by Jeff and Paul.  These guys were true watermen and role models for many of the young guys who grew up in Santa Barabara and Carpinteria.  I can still see Jeff’s big grin, I don’t think I ever saw him without it.  Someplace there’s an offshore wind and a glassy break and I know he’s there.

» wrote on 12.16.10 @ 10:12 PM

I worked with Bruce, Roger , Chris & Char for years at Surf N’ Wear. Later I went on to open up the San Luis Shop With Sam George . Later I worked in the Goleta shop before moving on.  I learned so much from Jeff and he will always hold a place in my heart . May you catch that set wave and ride on. Chris Galbraith

» wrote on 12.17.10 @ 12:48 AM

Jeff was a long time friend. We shared many stories on and off the beach. He will be missed.

» wrote on 12.17.10 @ 02:49 PM

Jeff White was my Godfather and my Dads closest friend. My Dad said to me the other day… “funny, Jeff and I will probably die not too far apart” I can’t really think of another friend I like to have standing at the gates of the here and after to greet my Dad when he passes through! I can just see him now with his contagious smile. Jeff will be missed but my memories of my Godfather will live in my heart forever! He was a good man and his fondness for me and my daughters was always evident!

» wrote on 12.17.10 @ 05:14 PM

My brother and I sort of “rode” for Owl in the 60s-we weren’t good enough to get free boards, but sometimes we got a “deal” 

Jeff and Brian were great good will emmisaries for the surf community.  Jeff did indeed always have a smile on his face and never ever didn’t have some time to chat with some little surf gremlin wannabe (like me)

As Jeff’s disease progressed, he took it in stride and hung in there-an example for all of us.

Jeff, you will be missed, RIP

» wrote on 12.18.10 @ 04:07 PM

Much sadness here for us left behind, and I am grateful that he is no longer imprisoned by his body. I can only add a little here for this kind, generous, loving, gentle man, who did so much for many of us in his Santa Barbara/Carpinteria orbit, and never took credit for any of it. I met Jeff when I went to Summerland to buy a new board from Reynolds Yater. The red shop up the hill was closed (gone surfing)but White Owl was open. There they where: Jeffrey, Brian Bradley, Jeff “Bullet” Campbell, and Stanley Veith. “Helped” Birdman repair dings, hung around after school, got in the way, surfed Rincon and Hammond’s with the crew (not very well)and became good friends with Jeff.Fast forward a few years and I’m working at the new Surf n’ Wear on Carrillo (do any former employees remember the “Sport of Kings”?):it would take a book to recount all the fun we had there, Dave Standish, Chris and Char,and ruling it all Jeff from that little back office. Enough for now. We all love and miss Jeff White.

» wrote on 12.18.10 @ 04:10 PM

I still remember getting free wax and stickers from him and Char on carillo in the 70’s. He was a big part of me getting off my boogie and onto an old single fin. One of the nicest people I have ever met. Him and Roger use to be in that small office on carillo and made me feel like one of the cool kids when they’s say come in and tell us how it’s going. Prayers to the family and thanks Jeff.

» wrote on 12.18.10 @ 04:58 PM

It’s not writes Jeff McCorkle it’s writes Mike McCorkle

» wrote on 12.18.10 @ 06:43 PM

Jeff was a member of Delta Tau Delta.  He is pictured in the 1960 UCSB La Cumbre Year Book.  His first surf board customers were members of the House.  I and Rick Biguelin bought the first Velez Jacobs boards to be delivered to Santa Barbara by Jeff.  Those boards were based on weight of the surfer.  As time passed my board became a submarine as did Rick’s.  I traded Rick for his board (his was bigger) and continued to surf until “sub time”.  My son now has that board in Huntington Beach.  Thanks to Jeff for bring modern surfing first to SB and the Brothers. We loved you then and we will miss you now.

» wrote on 12.18.10 @ 08:22 PM

lived in Summerland when Jeff opened his shop, He made my first board.

The Pic of the shop was taken by me I had some more and gave them to Brian.

Had so much fun as little Groms hanging around the shop.

Will miss him so glad to have known him

» wrote on 12.19.10 @ 03:21 PM

Rest in Peace Jeff. Sincere condolences to family and friends.

» wrote on 12.21.10 @ 01:32 AM

We will miss you Jeff. Thanks for making us young people (at the time) feel so welcome and a part of the wonderful surfing life you introduced us to. I miss you and hpe to carry on just a little of what you have shown me.

» wrote on 12.21.10 @ 10:33 AM

So sad to hear of Jeff’s passing.  A truly kind and ever so humble gentleman. Back in the late sixties and through the seventies, Jeff always had a smile to greet me and was genuinely interested with the current state of my life.  Thanks to legends like Jeff I still have the complete stoke for surfing.  It definitely is the sport of kings and Jeff was a king.  Now you have shed the chains which slowed you down for many years and are enjoying the other side.

» wrote on 12.21.10 @ 07:21 PM

Dear friends of Jeff,

An obituary is being written by his sister, Nancy Ashbridge White and will soon be published in the local newspapers.

Nancy is overwhelmed by all of your kind words, she had no idea her little brother was such a legend

Jeff will be with you as you ride the perfect wave

» wrote on 12.26.10 @ 06:12 PM

Jeff was my oldest solid friend.  He came to Carpinteria in ‘58, partly because I told him I’d been the first one in in the State lifeguard test the preceding year.  He ‘knew’ he could beat my fat body in anything water related, so beat me (& everyone else) that year.  We restored an old lap strake dory and went dory racing.  He eventually teamed with Paul, and as noted, they got real good.  He and Paul were in my wedding party, and our love of the outdoors almost convinced Marla to look for someone more civilized. Jeff became her best friend as well.  We loved him. he loved everyone.

» wrote on 12.30.10 @ 09:53 PM

My father (Geno Brady) and Jeff life guarded together at the Overhead Beach break back in the day, Jeff - 6’5” and skinny, my Dad - 5’8” and 210 Lbs…they would be running down the beach together while life guarding—AKA - Mutt and Jeff wink

I as well remember getting my first wetsuits at the Carrillo shop, and Jeff ALWAYS had that big smile on his face for everyone. He will be missed. RIP Jeff.

And I love the picture from the “Pit”, the Brady boys and the Wilmots with Jeff.


» wrote on 01.01.11 @ 06:26 PM

There are a number of us from outside the area who would like to attend the surf out to honor the man we loved so very much. Has a date been set yet, and if so, could someone please post it on the site? Thank you.

Jeff we miss you each and everyday. The loss is palpable and the world lost a great man who gave so much and asked for so little in return. May you finally be at peace,
Love Marla

» wrote on 01.07.11 @ 09:19 PM

A memorial service will be held at ledbeter beach on Thursday Jan 13,2011

» wrote on 01.07.11 @ 10:54 PM

A memorial service for jeff will be held at ledbeter beach on Thursday January 13,2011

» wrote on 01.12.11 @ 01:12 AM

We’re thankful we were able to visit Jeff a few times in the last two years.  Jeff and Henry enjoyed talking about lifeguarding/surfing in the Santa Barbara area in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s.  We wish we could have spent more time with him—-

» wrote on 01.13.11 @ 04:49 AM

For several years my family and I rented the guest house at Jeff’s Sandpoint home.  We kept our boards and beach toys there and spent many memorable weekends with Jeff and Laura.  We felt like family.  Our daughters literally grew up on the beach at sandpoint

Jeff loved to sit and talk downstairs in his home decorated with all things nautical.  There were old diving helmets, ships compasses, port holes and of course, surfing stuff.  We would sit and talk for hours - he seemed to know something about just about everything.
Jeff will always be an inspiration to me. He would swim in the ocean every day that the weather would allow - then make his way back to the boardwalk that led from the beach to his home and exercise his body. He was set free from the MS when he was in his beloved ocean.
Jeff, I hope you have some idea of the positive effect you’ve had on so many lives. Yours was a life well lived and in full. You taught and inspired by example.  I think for many of us who new him it would be helpful in life to ask ourselves - when the occasion arises - What would Jeff White do?

We love you Jeff

» wrote on 01.13.11 @ 12:18 PM

so very very touching…..may we all hold him in our hearts knowing that he lives a little in all of us who love the sea and surf.

» wrote on 01.13.11 @ 01:30 PM

Jeff treated me like a granddaughter. I am almost 8 years old and I knew Jeff from when I was born. We both loved the ocean and I have memories of the times that my Mom and Dad and I stayed at the beach house and played. I loved him like he was my Grandpa.

» wrote on 01.13.11 @ 04:57 PM

I first remember Jeff when I bought my first wetsuit - on my own - at Surf’n'Wear on Carrillo. Probably about 1970.  Later, during and after college, I worked there and went off to manage the store in Goleta. Jeff gave me my first real full-time job and a real introduction to business. Echoing what Kathy Riggs said about trust, once I got proficient at his scrawly signature, I would sign invoices and company checks when he was unavailable. I was so young, I thought this was a perfectly logical business practice. We all knew Jeff had MS, it was no secret, but it never appeared to slow him down or effect his crazy sense of humor or his loud, cheerful laugh. We were a great group, a functional family. I made great friends, we all surfed and grew up a lot, I met my wife and had my first of five children all while working for Jeff.  I wish I could be there at the paddle-out to commemorate the life of an original, larger-than-life true character who saw and experienced more of life than most of us will ever get to see. Bruce and Roger, please say goodbye and thanks for me.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 12:09 AM

Jeff’s influence on surfing in the SB area and all related was tremendous. He was full of Aloha! I will always remeber the shop on Carrillo and the many “series” contests that brought the local surfing family together.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 12:23 AM

I never met Jeff, but I did buy my first surfboard at the Beach House, and for that I’m grateful.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 01:00 AM

Way to Go Jeff White and your surfing community. A beautiful song and testament to Jeff. So many familiar names below. We were all touched by Jeff. The Mosbys first met Jeff in 1966 (Mark - 6th grade). TJ’s first board was a grey mouse belly board with a White Owl sticker!  For the next several decades, Jeff provided us with wetsuits, trunks, surfboards, surfboards to patch and most importantly his warmth,  friendship, smiles and character…I will never forget his smile and his store greeting…Hello Mrs Mosby how are you today… seems like yesterday.  Count said it well, Jeff is free now.  Looks like a great event today, Thank you Jeff for everything…The Mosby Family (5 boys and parents who were touched by Jeff)

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 02:24 AM

I just viewed the Jeff White Paddle-Out. What a grand, wonderful event to celebrate the life of a true Waterman. Thanks to Jon Shafer and others for the great photos for those who could not attend.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 03:45 AM

say good bye to one of the best…
say good bye to days gone by…
say good bye to those sparkling eyes…
say hello to all of the fond memories ...
that you will carry in your heart forever.

heart-felt memorial.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 04:22 AM

Long may you ride Jeff! Will always remember your help and guidance on my first surf trip up to Jalama in the 70’s and you gave my brother and I some sage advice on surfing up there! I was 17 and my bro was 15! Wound up moving to SB and hangin at your Carrillo shop through college!

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 01:12 PM

jeff was the corner stone to sb surfing.from his surf reports on the radio to his mentering of young surfers he will be missed rip

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 03:50 PM

Goodbye Jeff…such a kind gentle soul, I’m so glad you had those extra years!! Thanks for the Poor Boy by the way..but couldnt even afford that. Only one layer of 10 oz.?? Ridiculous!
Mostly bought wax and resin on my way to Power Thrust on Chapala for cheap gas. See you again someday Jeff.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 06:33 PM

“Hi! How are ya?” those words and Jeff’s voice will be forever etched in my memory; I must have heard him say them a thousand times as he greeted everyone that walked into the shop the same way. His greeting was always delivered with a huge simile, sincerity and his undivided attention. Jeff cared about everyone. If you weren’t his friend you were as soon as he met you. I had the privilege of knowing Jeff most of my life and as my first employer at the ripe old age 13 as with many others growing up in this town; working at “Surf n Wear” was my first job. Jeff had incredible confidence in young people and loved surrounding himself with others that shared his optimism and love of life and the ocean. Humble, gracious, grateful, caring humorous and creative are all words that describe Jeff White. He was truly worthy of the title “Surf Legend and Waterman”. Jeff’s smile and Aloha spirit will forever be missed; may his soul rest forever in peace.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 08:26 PM

He was our ‘older’ surf brother to all us kids in Carp., especially Concha Loma. Matt Moore, Steve Johnson, Scotty Gall, our entire junior crew from the mid-late 60’s, Jeff was the Go-To guy in our lives when we needed something…even if our moms and dads were ultimately going to pay the bill for it!  We all spent toooo many hours cruising in the original shop, hated the new one in SB - for about a week - and then endeared ourselves to that. When I wanted to try something different than a Yater Spoon I went to Jeff for a new RICK,  just in the shop and still bubble wrapped. Jeff always had good words about everything, warned you about what he thought you needed a warning about (“watch how you tighten your Wonder Bolt!”) and it was like he wanted that perfect sale before you walked out the glass doors.I would have given anything to be there for the Paddle Out.

» wrote on 01.14.11 @ 11:53 PM

Thank you for the brief time you bestowed upon me Jeff.  I feel truly blessed to have known you. 


» wrote on 01.15.11 @ 05:16 PM

I will always remember Jeff and how he was always friendly to all of us young 60’s gremmies—we would ride our bikes to summerland just to hang around and inhale surfing. thaqnks Jeff

» wrote on 01.16.11 @ 02:24 PM

2nd father, big brother, & true friend, Jeff was all that & more to me.Not only did he teach me to build a board [the right way], he showed me how to be a good person. If I ever become half the man Jeff was I’ll be satisfied. The last time I left his house, just before his passing he said “I’ll see you later on Tally, my 1st little gremmie”.Brings tears to my eyes that he still thought of me that way.
Jeff- we had so much fun,let’s meet in Summerland someday & do it all again!!!
LOVE- “Little Owl”

» wrote on 01.17.11 @ 06:33 PM

I learned to surf in front of Jeff’s house when I was a teenager. My whole family has very fond memories of that experience and of Jeff. Much love, Linnea

» wrote on 01.17.11 @ 11:21 PM

A great homage to Jeffrey. May his legacy live on and forever be an inspiration and example for us, our children, and their children.

» wrote on 01.18.11 @ 02:58 PM

I have put the request in to have “The Rincon Classic” changed to “Jeff White Memorial Rincon Classic” so that we can honor Jeff annually and preserve his legacy. Please let your feelings be known on this suggestion.

» wrote on 04.21.11 @ 12:51 AM

I got my second surfboard from Jeff when I was in 7th grade at La Cumbre. The SurfNWear shop at the time was across from the old Carrows and next to the old Aloha restaurant, on Carillo. For those of you who grew up in Santa Barbara, you know where I mean.
Jeff made his counter so tall I could barely see over the top but he was so friendly and helpful and would always give us kids free wax.
Jeff helped me get hooked on surfing. I also seem to remember a “Char” who was very attractive and worked there too.
One day I was there and George Greenough came in and was also a really nice guy, full of advice and help. I wish I still had that board I got from Jeff.
RIP bud.

» wrote on 05.18.11 @ 01:38 PM

I lived across the street from Jeff, Laura, and Jed White on Vallecito Road in Carp. around 1968 to 1979.  And two doors down were the Nordholms.  Ashley commented on how Alex knew that he and Jeff would pass around the same time, and he did. And how Jeff would be there to ” greet him in the here and after.” These extraordinary men who led such extraordinary lives is just amazing to me.  They were such humble and quiet beings. One never knew how extraordinary they really were until their passing. I am honored to have known them both.

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