A certifiable pillar of Santa Barbara’s ocean-loving heritage, Jeff White passed away this week after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. A gifted waterman whether he was at the helm of a racing dory or riding a surfboard, the “White Owl” was born in 1936 and was a pioneer of Santa Barbara’s surf culture dating back to the halcyon days of the mid 1950s. From his aptly named White Owl Surf Shop in Summerland and same-named surfboard label, to his hand in the Surf N’ Wear shop near the S.B. waterfront, to his organizing role in countless contests over the years, White—with his trademark upbeat attitude and wicked sense of humor—was a father figure for generations’ worth of Santa Barbara surfers.
Matt Moore's "White Owl Surf Shop, Summerland 1962."