Some say it was fitting that Orral W. (Blackie) August died last week of a heart attack while camping at San Onofre, a surfing beach. He was 76.
In his youth, August was a pioneer in the sport. Later he became a popular father figure and folk hero among Orange County surfers who for decades were frequent guests at the August family's oceanfront house in Seal Beach.
"Most surfers knew (August) as a friend when you were in trouble," said Steve Pezman, publisher of Surfer Magazine. August and his wife, Pat, were "the den father and den mother to the surfing world," he said.
August's son Robert, who manufactures surfboards in Huntington Beach, said: "Hundreds of people adopted my mom and dad as parents. They knew how to have fun and attracted people who didn't get that in their own homes."
August lived in Seal Beach for many years before moving to Huntington Beach about 12 years ago.
Those who knew August say that while surfing was his passion, he also was a sharp businessman who earned his living at a variety of occupations, which included operating his own independent oil refinery in Long Beach and selling cars. He passed on to his young friends the importance of being responsible and productive.
Jack Haley, owner of Captain Jack's Restaurant in Sunset Beach, was one of many successful Orange County businessmen who spent much of their youth with the August family. He recalled that August's "hot tips" helped him win the first U.S Surfboard Championship in 1959. Haley joined a crowd of mourners who gathered Tuesday at Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach to pay their last respects.
Besides his son, August leaves a daughter, Pat, and four grandchildren.