Death of a Heavy

Ray Kunze RIP

Ray Kunze the legendary “Enforcer” at {{{Malibu}}} in the 60’s, passed away last week from a stroke at age 68. A memorial paddle out was held at the Ranch on Saturday. Over two hundred people showed up to pay tribute to their favorite tough guy.

Tall, athletic and physically imposing, Kunze was an exceptional athlete. He was a top football player at Compton High and played professional AAA baseball in the US and Mexico.

But his real love was surfing.

He became an integral part of the Malibu crew in the late 50’s and laid down the law when the crowds got out of control in the Gidget era. “He had a chiseled face, a booming voice and a fist like an anvil, says {{{Jimmy}}} Ganzer, one of Kunze’s longtime friends and the founder of Jimmy’Z clothing. “He was tough as hell.”

Denny Aaberg, who used Kunze as the inspiration for the character of the “Enforcer” when he co-wrote “Big Wednesday,” says that Kunze was like a protective big brother to him. Aaberg remembers that the Enforcer’s bark was often worse than his bite. “I never really saw him fight anybody,” says Aaberg. “He would usually scare them away with his voice.”

Aaberg also says that Kunze had a razor sharp wit like that of his friend Mickey Dora. “He looked like a pirate and he had a gleam in his eye,” he says.

When the 60’s heyday was over at the 'Bu, Kunze became a firefighter. “After putting out a fire, he would keep the sirens blazing and speed back to the station so that he could to get back in the water more quickly,” says Ganzer.

Kunze was also a guard at the Ranch for fifteen years. “He loved sitting way outside and charging big waves at Big Drakes,” says Aaberg. “His whole life revolved around surfing.”

A second paddle out Memorial for Kunze will be held Saturday at 1st Point Malibu.