Friends gather to remember Jack Cantrell © Mike Lanska

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

At Faria Beach 60 surfers remembered Jack Cantrell, tossing flowers into the water and paddling in the waves he surfed for more than 50 years. 'This a testament to Jack's ability to relate to all generations — the fact that there are young and old surfers out here today,' said Bruce Douglass, a founding member of the Ventura Surf Club. 'We could imagine Jack out there sitting with us.' Cantrell began surfing Ventura in the 1950s at Faria Beach.

Cantrell died Oct. 25 after being diagnosed with incurable bone cancer four years ago, said Joyce Cantrell, his former wife. He was 83. "Thousands of people know him in Ventura," said Ventura County Superior Court Judge Jeff Bennett, who started surfing with Cantrell in the 1980s. "He was just really gregarious and a fun guy. He's a legend."

Cantrell began surfing in the 1950s, usually riding on a longboard at Faria Beach, where he later bought a home. He was considered one of the oldest surfers in Ventura, surfing until he turned 80, Douglass said. "He liked to be in the water, but even more, he liked to be in the water with friends," he said.

Cantrell also was active in the local surfing community, and in 1991 he helped found Ventura's C Street Surfing Museum, which closed in 2005. He had a heart attack while surfing in 1992 but returned to the water four months later, Joyce Cantrell said. The couple divorced 18 years ago but remained close, she said. Their two daughters, Christy and Caryl Cantrell, who live in Ventura, participated in the paddle-out, a traditional farewell ceremony for surfers.

"It's just wonderful to see this much support and this community of people who knew him," Caryl Cantrell said.

Jack Cantrell was born in Oxnard and moved to Ventura, graduating from Ventura High School in 1946.

After serving in the Army, he attended Ventura College. In 1953, he started the Jack Cantrell Oil Company, which delivered oil in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. He retired in 1989, but continued surfing and organizing surf trips to Hawaii with his friends, said Bennett, who visited the island several times with Cantrell.


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