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Paddle out at Doheny State Beach honors Dick Baker

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 01, 2009 7:09 AM

The surf industry gathered at Doheny State Beach Sunday afternoon to honor and remember Dick Baker, the former Chairman Emeritus of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, Ocean Pacific president and mentor and friend to many, with a traditional paddle out service.

Paddle out circleBefore the surfers went in the water, several speakers shared funny, inspirational and touching stories about Dick, and a band performed traditional Hawaiian music.

In the water, the large group of surfers held hands while the owner of the Vine Restaurant, Justin Monson, talked about praying with Dick. Surfer Pat O'Connell also spoke.

Dick's wife, Una, and sons Jack and Ryan, paddled to a nearby boat and Una took Una, Ryan and Jack BakerDick's five lucky pennies from a bag she had tucked in her wetsuit. She told the group that Dick carried those pennies with him everyday, and each one represented something great coming into his life - Una, Jack, Ryan and the Baker's two dogs, Tucker and Guinness.

Ryan BakerUna and the boys then jumped into the water, leaving the pennies behind in the ocean.

At the end of the paddle out, which was organized by Bob Mignogna, the Bakers paddled to the middle of the circle and the group showered them with love and support, by gently splashing water, tossing flowers, and hooting and hollering.

Here are some highlights from the speakers. Dick's generosity, support of others and positive outlook was laced through all the stories.

Paddle OutP.T. Townend shared how Dick was always the one who insisted on picking up the bill, even at surprise party for P.T. where everyone was supposed to go dutch.

John Warner described how Dick was the ultimate salesman who never met a stranger and who continually spoke with pride about Una, Ryan and Jack. "May God bless and keep my friend," John said.

Nat Norfleet, who worked with Dick at Op, talked about Dick's optimism, energy and savvy, and how he brought the different surfing tribes from around the world together as one. "If you looked up ‘mentor' in Webster's it would say Dick Baker," Nat said.

Jesse Billauer of Life Rolls On described Dick's unwavering support for his organization and for him and how Dick was his role model. "I want to grow up to be a man like Dick Baker, a husband like Dick Baker, a father like Dick Baker," Jesse said.

Candy HarrisSteve Long, father of surfers Greg and Rusty Long, shared how Dick helped launch the professional surfing careers of his sons while at Ocean Pacific and his support of the San Onofre Foundation.

Candy Harris (right) of Billabong and a SIMA board member talked about how her relationship with Dick grew from a mentorship into a friendship and how he became a father figure to her. When she was starting her career, he "dreamed a grander future for me than I ever pictured for myself," she said. She also learned important lessons from Dick, including success without social responsibility is not success and that smart men marry strong women.

Dustin and Dylan Odbert of Ambsn shared how Dick took them under his wing even though he didn't know them at all, and helped them get launched in the surf industry. "We became his favorite starving entrepreneurs." Dick introduced them to key people, helped with their business plan and basically gave them a business 101 course, all from the generosity of his heart.

Gary Ward of Ocean Minded described Dick as having "great energy and no ego." One of Gary's favorite things to do was to go to the Baker house, where he stopped in the kitchen to talk surfing with Una and eat one of her homemade scones and sip a latte, and then stopped at the "red booth" kitchen table to talk to Dick about business and get pumped up. Una and Dick "lived the ‘more the merrier' lifestyle," Gary said. "Dick gets the double XX award for having it all."

Fernando AguerreReef co-founder Fernando Aguerre (right) said one of the most important lessons we can learn from Dick is to "give like he gave to everyone around you." Fernando wore a pair of crazy pants that Dick had bought at a charity auction for $4,000 from Fernando, and then Dick had given the pants back to him. Fernando told a touching and funny story about the last time Fernando saw Dick just before he passed away. Fernando hugged him, and Dick said, "You're doing fine, just keep working on your English." The most important three things Dick taught us is No. 1 giving, No. 2 giving, No. 3 giving, Fernando said.


For more tributes to Dick Baker:

Remembering Dick Baker Part I

Remembering Dick Baker Part II


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