Floridian legend and winner of the 1996 East Coast Surfing Championships, Gary Propper, reportedly passed away last night.
According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing, Propper was one of the most talented (and well-paid) pros of his generation. In the ’60s and ’70s, Propper was a staple among the international surf community and was a prolific competitor. In 1966, he clinched the East Coast Surfing Championships and continued competing in the World Championships for years after that.
Propper surfed for Hobie Surfboards and at one point made the brand a killing. “The Gary Propper model surfboard, made by Hobie Surfboards and introduced in 1966, went on to become the world’s best-selling signature model, with virtually all sales made between Florida and Maine,” wrote EOS author Matt Warshaw. “It was estimated that of the 6,000 surfboards Hobie made in 1967, nearly half were Propper models. He later claimed that his 1967 board royalties, added to the money he earned as a salesman for Katin surf trunks and O’Neill wetsuits, amounted to almost $100,000 for the year. ‘I put down “Professional Surfer-Athlete” on my ’64 tax returns,’ Propper said in 1996. ‘It was the coolest.’ The reason he almost never turned up in ’60s-era surf movies, Propper also said, is that he demanded appearance fees from filmmakers, most of whom refused.”
After Propper’s surf career ended, he went on to become a popular entertainment promoter in the ’70s and eventually a manager for comedians. He also, in the early ’90s, earned the rights to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comic book characters.
The loss of the legend and Hall-of-Famer will be surely felt deeply along the East coast seaboard. Our thoughts are with Propper’s friends and family.