A Paddle Out and Life Celebration for local Cannon Beach 50 year resident Jack Brown was held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at Noon, in the Seaside Cove at the bottom of Tillamook Head. A couple hundred of Jack’s community including his family, friends and surfers gathered to celebrate his life. Generations of surfers and residents of the North Coast gathered to feel the connection Jack always brought to his community; one of inclusiveness and love. It began with a service on the beach with nearly 100 surfers in wetsuits and their boards on the rocks, along with another 100 of Jack’s community who weren’t doing the “paddle out”. The beach service was spoken by long time Seaside resident and Director of NW Women’s Surf Camps Lexie Hallahan which included the following tribute to him.
“Sometimes in our lives we’re given a gem of opportunity to meet and know an extraordinary person, one who changes our lives. Jack Brown was that Gem! A great surfing buddy to us all, his nearly fifty years of surfing along the Oregon Coast, crossed between generations of us surfers. A mentor, who shared with us life’s lasting lessons, not only in his words and wonderful humor, but in how he lived his life; simply, fully, with love and great generosity. Jack was our Hero! A man we all respected, loved and adored. Our world, both in and out of the water, was made more brilliant because of Jack Brown. It’s our turn now, as his surfing community and friends to carry Jack’s great spirit of intention forward!”
Local Seaside resident and surfer Joyce Hunt read a quote from the late President John F Kennedy which captured the spirit of what surfers share with the ocean. This address was spoken by JFK at the Australian Ambassador’s Dinner for the American’s Cup Crews on September 14, 1962, in Newport, Rhode Island.
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and therefore, we have salt in our blood, our sweat and our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether is is to surf (sail) or to watch it, we are going back from whence we came.”
Bunches of flowers were passed around the community on the beach to throw into the shore break and into the center of the “paddle out circle” once surfers made it out to the outer cove. Then the nearly 100 surfers all migrated to the Cove riptide to paddle outside together. The day had been blessed with warm east winds, sunshine and a long period 4’ ground swell, perfect for the paddle out service. In the surfer’s parking lot on the west side of the Lanai Motel, while surfers were paddling out, live Hawaiian music was played by local surfer and Hawaiian Hank Snell, which carried out over the waves to be heard both by them and the people on the rocky beach. Once to the outer cove, the surfers formed a large circle, holding each other’s hands in solidarity and community for their dear ole friend, Jack Brown. Local surfer Jon Leiter gave the final life toast in the center of the circle recognizing the great person Jack was for how he was so inclusive in our community and encouraged all of the surfers there to take with them and share that piece of Jack. Flowers were thrown into the middle of the circle followed by lots of cheering and splashing of the ocean, representative of energy being lifted from the ocean (water) to the air and spirit (ether). After the circle ceremony, surfers paddled back into the waves for hours of party waves, followed by a large bonfire with smoked salmon provided by the Tillamook Head Kopra brothers, David and John. That night, the moon’s shape was a perfect smile with the planet Venus, planet of Love, hanging right below the moon in the sky.