Article

In Memory of a Modern Hawaiian Surfing Legend

Jeff Johnson Remembered

| posted on July 22, 2010

It was a simple note to the Johnson family from their Pipeline neighbors, the Naylor’s. In it, the words “a firm handshake, a big smile…and all that knowledge” jumped out at me from the folded paper; it perfectly described Jeff.

I have always thought of Jeff as a steward of more than just this coastline, the surrounding hills, beaches, ocean, and even the highway and bike path in front of their Pipe beach home. His persona has always been one of those people who you knew were part of the bigger picture to life – more than who you just knew him to be or how you saw him in the water, at work as a contractor or involved in raising his family. His work and guidance at preserving this island, the ocean, and lifestyle was of the highest level of commitment.

When his family and the international community came together on the sands of Pipeline to salute the man and his devotion for life and family (and for future generations to share in the natural beauty of the North Shore) you were very aware that his aura and “knowledge” was hanging in the morning trades, along the beaches and above us in the unbroken ridgeline of green that his shared vision helped to save and define for the generations ahead. – Bernie Baker

A Second Remembrance: The List

The phone rings and when I pick it up I hear Jeff’s voice on the other end, “We’re going to the Big Island.”

“[Mike] Spalding called and wants us on Maui at 0700 day after tomorrow. I’ll fax you over the list. When you get it call me back and we will go over it.”

With Jeff, it was all about the list! For work, play, everything… Jeff had a list and they were always written out with precision penmanship on those yellow 8.5 x 14 inch tablets. A pad could always be found on the Johnson dining table where Jeff would work on his lists with lumber take offs, home repairs, honey do’s…

This time it was the required items to pack for our sail from Maui to the Big Island. Shortly, my fax machine whirls and out the list appears: his detailed account of what I need to pack for our trip aboard Spalding’s new 60-foot sailing canoe “Kioloa,” – no more and no less. I am required/expected to pack accordingly and if I even bring an extra T-shirt I risk the ire of Jeff for not being “schooner-rigged.”

The List:
(MSF) mask/snorkel/fins
Hat
Sunglasses
Knife
2, pair surf shorts
2, T-shirts
Foul weather jacket
Lycra top
Tabbies
Head lamp
Pareo
Therma-rest
Fleece sleeping bag
Green tea

AND everything to be packed in one dry-bag. ONLY 1 bag is allowed to be considered schooner-rigged per Jeff Johnson.
Jeff and I are off to the airport the next morning, 0500 sharp for a 0630 flight to Maui. Jeff quizzes me on my list during the drive to the airport:

(MSF. Check. Hat. Check. Sunglasses. Check…) All part of the LIST. When we arrive in Kahalui, Mike’s waiting in his truck with dingy in tow, ready to drive to Kioloa’s mooring up at Mala wharf. And he’s thinking/talking a million miles an hour, closing a real-estate deal on his cell phone as we jam past Lahaina.

Once aboard the Kioloa Jeff turns to Mike, “So, what have you done about that rudder problem?” at which point (and in perfect form) Jeff produces his detailed drawings and a list of modifications that Mike should follow. With Jeff it was all about the lists…

Aloha Jeff,

-Jack Lutey