Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz has passed away aged 93 this week. The Jewish, Texas-born, Stanford-educated physician made a huge impression on the surfing, and wider, world. After giving up practicing medicine, he dedicated his life to surfing and to his family. In 1972, he founded the Paskowitz Surf camp, where campers could live alongside and surf with members of the Paskowitz family. In 2007 he launched the Surfing For Peace project to deliver surfboards to the small surfing community on the Gaza Strip. He surfed all the way through to his 90s, espousing a low fat, high exercise diet and became a self styled surf fitness sage. He wrote dozens of health columns for Surfer magazine in the '70s, as well as books on the subject.
Paskowitz reached mainstream audiences with the 2007 documentary film “Surfwise,” which chronicled the eclectic Paskowitz clan, which he described as, "all of us living in a camper as a nomadic band." Paskowitz raised all of his nine children with his third wife, Juliet, in a succession of used camper vans (he also had two children by a previous marriage). None of the Paskowitz children were formally educated during their time on the road, although many went on to have competitive success in the sport.
Paskowitz was well known for his surf philosophy and is one of the most quotable surfers of all time. In 2010 he told Surfer, "One thing that all surfers have in common is that if they're in love with surfing, then they're in love with the sea, and if they're in love with the sea, then they're in love with God. That's what makes surfing so magical."
In conversations with the Encyclopedia of Surfing's Matt Warshaw he was typically forthright on matters such as sex and death. "Sex is the only thing in life that's as much fun as surfing. So, like surfing, it deserves the very best you can give it," he told Warshaw. Later, he said, "Death is not a stalker, always looking for us. Death is a scorekeeper tallying up how much we love life and how much we are willing to work for it. We die when we stop living."
Doc has finally stopped living, but his memory and legacy are still very much alive. RIP.