Polyurethane foam surfboard icon Larry Gordon, an avid wave rider who was among the first to create foam boards, died Jan. 1 in San Diego at 76 of Parkinson's disease.
Working with surfing partner Floyd Smith, Gordon won an enthusiastic following for their PU surfboards incorporating desirable quality and performance characteristics.
In 1959, while a student of chemistry at San Diego State College, Gordon and Smith began making surfboards out of a garage as a lighter, easier-to-ride alternative to the standard balsa wood boards of that era. In climbing a learning curve, Gordon experimented with foam materials at the plastics processing plant of his father, George Gordon, an inventor, patent holder and early adopter of polymer technologies.
Gordon & Smith Surfboards Inc. gained a following for its long boards, adapted to the popularity of short boards in the 1960s and continued to adapt as market needs changed.
On a personal level, Gordon was the leader of a group of surfers who met at Tourmaline surf park Saturday mornings to pray before riding the waves.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Gayle; their children, Debbie, Eric and Erin Gordon; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Debbie and Eric Gordon operate the Gordon & Smith business, which procures PU blanks from U.S. Blanks Inc. of Gardena, Calif.
In San Diego, a memorial service is set for Jan. 16, and a paddle-out event is scheduled at 9 a.m. Jan. 18 at Tourmaline, Gordon's favorite surfing site.