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Pioneer Surf Photographer LeRoy Grannis passes away

LeRoy Grannis
August 12, 1917 - February 3, 2011 
photo: Sharon Marshall

The surfing world mourns the passing of one of its most beloved participants, LeRoy Grannis, who passed away at the age of 93, on Thursday, February 3. LeRoy is known for capturing some of surfings most iconic images during its so called Golden Age of the 1960s and '70s. During their marriage, LeRoy and his wife Katie were nearly inseparable, and when attending events by himself, LeRoy was always anxious to leave early in order to get back home to his "beloved Katie" (a lesson we might all learn from).  When Katie passed away a couple years back, it was worried that LeRoy was soon to follow, but he proved all our fears were unfounded and continued to shine on, although his health was in a state of continual flux. When he could, he would attend his weekly gathering of the surviving members of the Palos Verdes Surf Club (the oldest stateside surf club, est. in 1935). Today, Fenton Scholes is the last remaining original member. LeRoy was known for the pleasure he took in selling 8x10 prints of his work from his Carlsbad trailer home, to whomever wanted one (for a very modest fee), but that all changed when established art galleries began selling limited editions of his work, commanding prices comparable to other photographic greats like Ansel Adams. The Surfer's Journal had already released a book of LeRoy's work (the first in what would become their series of Surf Photographer Legends) and German publisher Taschen Books later produced a limited-edition, oversize coffee table book of Grannis' work which quickly sold out and doubled in value within a short period of time. His birthday celebrations were often spent at his favorite restaurant, the Beach Break Cafe in Oceanside, and friends (comprised of many of surfing's legends) would drop by, packing this tiny seaside eatery–filled with many of LeRoy's photos and memorabilia–in order to pay their respects and chat with this most affable of surf characters. LeRoy's 80th birthday was hosted by the future founders of the California Surf Museum at George's Restaurant, and then again for his 90th, across the way from the Museum's then location at the corner of Pier Avenue and PCH. They also were the first to show a retrospective of his work, and an always humble LeRoy was brought to tears by this recognition of his talent and contributions to this sport and lifestyle of surfing. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Grannis' family, we've lost another irreplaceable treasure. –Barry Haun, SHF Curator
Aloha LeRoy Grannis 

Below are some photos we gathered for his 90th birthday tribute
LeRoy's very recognizable logo
LeRoy and fellow members of the Palos Verdes Surf Club. photo: Doc Ball

Venice Beach relay, 1940. photo Doc Ball

LeRoy, Newport River Jetties, 1964. photo: Jim Driver

Duke Invitational, December 1969. photo: LeRoy Grannis Collection

Duke and Lord James Blears (red lei). photo: Brad Barrett Collection

Brad Barrett and LeRoy. photo: Brad Barrett Collection

LeRoy and Whitey Harrison. photo: Leo Hetzel

Katie & LeRoy. Our 90th birthday card for LeRoy. photo: Jeff Divine


Blogger AFTA SHAKA said...

Yes a Irreplaceable Treasure

February 4, 2011 at 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So long Leroy, you have finally found the perfect wave. We will miss your irreplacable talent to capture the precious moments of surfing and the characters involved. Sandy O:)

February 5, 2011 at 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A real LEGEND !

February 11, 2011 at 7:15 PM  

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As part of our commitment to protecting our image donors, the Surfing Heritage Foundation has begun using digital watermarking on ALL of our images, including those images seen on our website. This watermark is not visible to the eye, but is easily seen by many computer programs such at Photoshop and other image editing programs. In addition, we have also purchased a “watermark spider” that crawls the Internet specifically looking for any images that contain our SHF watermark. The Surfing Heritage Foundation is prepared to take the appropriate action should we find any illegal or unlicensed usage of images from our files.