Jack Meyer — my brother, my friend, my mentor — passed away on January 7 in Melbourne Beach, Florida. He suffered a heart attack while jogging. Jack was 53 years old — or young, if you knew him.
He was well-known in Santa Barbara and in the surf and surfwear industry worldwide. As a sales rep for various companies — including Señor Lopez, Local Motion, Hurley, and Dragon Eyewear — Jack traveled the world, attending trade shows. He was able to surf some of the best waves the world has to offer, and to meet people everywhere who were enamored with him. Jack was Jack! If you knew him, you know what I mean. Everyone has Jack stories. He was quite the character.
Jack moved to Santa Barbara in 1972. He sent a letter back to our family in New Jersey, telling us we just had to come out and see it. So we packed up and headed west. I found my older brother surfing and painting. He sold his airbrushed T-shirts for money. When I started school at Santa Barbara City College, just about every other girl was wearing a tank top Jack had airbrushed. And because he was a good surfer, too, Jack became a central part of the emerging surf industry. He airbrushed boards in Santa Barbara for years, first for Channel Islands, owned by Al Merrick and Kim Robinson, and eventually throughout the industry. People talk about “bum surfers,” but it wasn’t like that at all; Jack worked his tail off.
Eventually, Jack decided to become a sales rep to make more money, but he kept on doing his artwork. I always wished I could have been Jack’s own sales rep. He got burned monetarily for the good stuff he did because he wasn’t greedy. I used to tell him, “Jack, you’re getting ripped off.” But he wasn’t in it for the money.
Jack moved away from Santa Barbara in 1984, but came back to visit a few times a year because of all his connections here. Until Esau’s closed a few months ago, Jack still had a few paintings on the walls. You could pick out his stuff right away. The owner, Scott Stanley, has some good Jack stories.
Jack loved big surf. One day in October 1977, he called me up at 6 a.m. Jack, Kim Robinson, Al Merrick, and I all met up at Duffy’s in Montecito and headed to Rincon. It was triple overhead. Jack said to me, “If you don’t paddle out, I’ll never surf with you again.” Yeah, I paddled out. I got a couple inside waves before I ended up on the rocks along the 101, about a half mile down the beach. I thought I was gonna die. People were pulled over on the side of the road, staring at me. All of a sudden, Jack pulled up. He helped me out of the water and put me in the car. “You knucklehead,” he said.
Many people tell me Jack stories about Campus Point, Rincon, Jalama, and El Cap. I was very lucky to have been there for some of those magical days.
As a sales rep, Jack had plenty of samples in his truck. Throughout his travels all over the world, he would take these out and hand them to kids on a whim. Some of these kids had nothing. Jack was like Santa Claus in July. They recognized him immediately and would run up to him, shouting, “There’s Jack!” or “Uncle Jack!” What a big heart the guy had.
He touched so many people everywhere he went. I found this out at the viewing of his body in Manasquan, New Jersey, where between 2,500 and 3,000 people showed up to pay their respects. These were people I had never met, from all corners of the world. On top of that, there were 67 family members there who I hadn’t seen for many years.
There are so many people who have lent support and helped to honor Jack since he passed away — Joe Lopez, who gave a great speech at the viewing, Kim Robinson, our cousin Mike Meyer and his family, my sister Cindy and her family, and especially Toni, Jack’s fiancée. I couldn’t possibly list everyone who contributed, but you know who you are. Thank you.
To all who knew Jack, keep him in your heart and cherish those times when he gave you some special moments. And keep telling those Jack stories. Remember his gusto. If you have any of his artwork, hold onto it, for those pieces can’t be duplicated. We all miss him very much.
During the viewing, Jack was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a lei around his neck, and was holding my father’s baseball card in his hand. You knucklehead! You left us too soon. Jack, thanks for being my brother. Your aloha spirit lives on.
There have already been paddle-outs for Jack in China (only Jack!), Florida, and New Jersey. There are two planned for San Clemente and Rincon for all of us locals to have a chance to commemorate Jack. For more information, call Ray at 705-7915 or Joe Lopez at (760) 790-8503.To read more about Jack, visit localswell.com and jackrmeyermemorial.com.