It’s with a heavy heart that we report that longtime La Jolla, CA surfer Bill Andrews passed away yesterday. The 73-year-old surfer and photographer was a beloved figure in the San Diego surf community. He’d been struggling with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), commonly known as Lou Gehrig disease.
Andrews grew up La Jolla, catching his first wave at La Jolla Shores in the late 1950s. From there he became a standout local surfer, frequently venturing just north to the more powerful waves at Black’s Beach. In an article by The Surfer’s Journal, Andrews was referred to as the “first Black’s local.” It was there at his favorite break that Andrews was photographed from the cliffs above by SURFER’s iconic early lensman Ron Stoner. That classic image of Andrews, crouching, locked in trim across a glistening, translucent wave face, was used on a 1965 cover of SURFER magazine. In a recent interview with close friend and fellow San Diego surfer John Edwards, Andrews described the experience of finding out he was on the cover thusly:
“Ron Stoner came up to me and said, ‘Hey Andrews, guess who’s gonna be on the cover of the next surfer magazine? It’s you.’ I go, ‘Get out of here! There’s no way in the world. That’s probably the worst surfer ever on the cover of the magazine [laughs.]”
Andrews’ sense of humor and constant positivity had a ripple effect throughout the San Diego surf community, and many local standouts have taken to social media to share stories of their experiences with Andrews in and out of the water. Despite Andrew’s difficult struggle with ALS, he maintained that positive attitude, explaining to Edwards in their interview that he felt he’d lived as full and rich a surf life as anyone could hope for.
“I’ve surfed all over--California, the East Coast, Hawaii, Mexico, South America--and I don’t regret one single moment of it,” said Andrews. “Every day spent surfing was worth it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
[Top image: SURFER Volume 6, Number 3]