Waking up to read that Terry Martin had passed away on Saturday, May 12, 2012, I was overcome with an immediate wave of grief and my stomach turned sour. Not only was he one of the most legendary shapers of all time, but also one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met.
I had the good fortune of running into Terry Martin at the Stater Brothers grocery store in San Clemente a couple of summers ago with a friend he’d known since she was a child. As soon as I was introduced to him, I was struck by how he listened and cared about how we were and what she had been up to. He had a genuine sense of care that is rare in people these days. Even though a random conversation in the produce section, you felt like someone important to him. His uplifting spirit was contagious and hard to miss.
I told him where I lived and surfed mostly and he revealed about a certain break he loved to surf when he was younger that has a ledgy section which sucks up and throws towards the end. It was particularly tough to negotiate and time the steep sucking face on the thick and heavy single fin longboards that were the norm of the day. Terry’s approach was to take the traditional log and cut it in half so he could draw the right line. He told me that at the time the spot came to be known as “Terry’s Slide”. He found a different approach to ride the wave-like no one had before. I never got to see him surf there, but I’m sure he had it wired.
I always think of him whenever I do a quick surf check at this place. Although I only met Terry once, I could tell he was a light in many people’s lives. His warm, radiant smile and genuine goodwill will be missed. His master knowledge in shaping inspired and guided many. Terry is remembered as the influential icon in surfboard shaping history that he was. We were blessed with his contributions and it’s sad to see him go.