Surf industry pioneer and co-founder of G&S Surfboards, Larry Gordon died on January 1, 2016.
Gordon moved to San Diego from Illinois as a child and began his lifelong commitment to the ocean when he started abalone diving and spearfishing. He then started bodysurfing and mat-surfing with childhood friend Floyd Smith until he procured his first surfboard made of balsa wood, which weighed more than 40 pounds.
In 1959, Gordon, a chemistry major studying at San Diego State, teamed up with Floyd Smith to start making surfboards in Smith’s garage. Gordon and Smith were interested in innovating the surfboard by making it lighter and more maneuverable, and they were able to source foam chemicals from his father’s family business, Gordon Plastics. They built their first mold, blew their own foam, and played a significant role in revolutionizing surfing as we know it.
In a short period of time, G&S Surfboards became ubiquitous among San Diego’s most accomplished surfers. Notable surfers involved with the brand included Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, and Barry Kanaiaupuni. The company’s legacy extends to contemporary greats in surfboard innovation as Rusty Preisendorfer and Mark Richards both shaped under G&S Surboards.
Upon hearing the announcement of his passing, an outpouring of fond remembrances began on social in the surf community.
Joel Tudor shared the following on Instagram: “Just got word of G&S Larry Gordon’s passing last night — rest in power sir // you made some really cool boards n skates during your time here – my heart goes out to his family”
“He was another great piece in the fabric of surf culture RIP,” wrote Dibi Fletcher.
Larry’s real legacy is not just as a savvy business owner, but that of a surfer who followed his heart and was the father to his great family. Larry was a fixture at Tourmaline Surfing Park, where for decades he surfed, hung-out with local surfers and shared donuts with generations of grommets.
Larry’s memory will live on forever in every board that bears his logo and from every shaper that got their start working for him. The reach Larry Gordon had in our industry is the stuff of legend, but the character of the man surpasses the word more than you would ever believe.