One of the joys of being the mother of two sons is in knowing their friends. My son Seth used to own and produce the Huntington Beach Pro/Am Surf Series, and that is my first memory of knowing John Kissel.
John surfed the contest. When the winners were announced and all the prizes had been distributed, there was always an auction with just lots and lots of additional prizes if your ticket was picked. John Kissel was Seth’s friend, and John always helped us out by encouraging people to buy tickets, and then by throwing out the prizes to the crowd. The highlight of that event was Kissel tossing out the watermelon, always one of the gifts. Only John could stir the crowd up to fever pitch with his humorous shout outs, his goofy faces, and his indomitably happy spirit. He always had time, a smile and an encouragement for the grommets, too.
John died as he lived - like a crazy, happy, dare devil. He passed on due to a cliff-diving accident on August 29 and he will be sorely missed by this Surf Mama.
One of my happy memories of John didn’t involve surfing. It involved yard sailing, MY favorite sport. Unknowingly, I arrived at John’s parent’s home in my sale-ing travels and when he saw me, he jumped up, ran over and gave me a huge hug. That was the sweetness of John Kissel. Makes my eyes all sweaty.
Those of you who read my blog and didn’t know John, you would have loved him. Everyone did. His surfer friends did a paddle out today for him. Ever seen one? It will wrench your heart out to attend one, they are so poignant. I cannot imagine what it feels like to actually be in one. Here’s a link to one.
Goodbye, John. I always love you.