Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Surfing Soapbox: Saying goodbye to Joe Epps

I’ve known a lot of people to live and die in my time. All have left me with a different lasting impression.

Some are remem- bered only for how they died, and others are remembered for how they lived.

Joe Epps will always be remembered for how he lived. His passion for life was unequal. With that irresistible laughter and electrifying smile of his, he was always the life of the party, but more importantly he made those around him feel good.

I can picture his smile right now as if he were sitting beside me and that’s a wonderful way to be remembered — the ultimate way, really — remembered for your smile that still shines bright, even though you have moved on and now surf the best waves that heaven has to offer — and I’m pretty sure it’s a left like Brooks Street, only better.


A good smile will always speak volumes about a person more than words ever will. However, when Joe spoke, it was always from the heart. He referred to my brother John as “son,” and I know that that meant the world to John.

Joe meant a lot to a lot of people, especially to the community of Laguna Beach. So much so that the Laguna Beach City Council voted unanimously to dedicate the new surfing statue at Brooks Street to him — and I know Joe will be smiling for that. Especially since Joe and Mike Armstrong grew up surfing there.

Thank you Laguna Beach City Council for that tribute. I know that Joe’s family will appreciate it with all their hearts, as does the surfing community at Brooks Street and throughout Laguna. At 11 a.m. Saturday there will be a paddleout memorial for Joe at Brooks Street. Please bring your best smiles and join us in celebrating the life and times of Joe Epps.

I’m sure he’ll be playing his guitar for us. Peace.


JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include and He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha