By Dave Schwab
A shrine memorializing Theodore Kenneth Smith, 52, who died Saturday, Dec. 31 from drowning after he had an apparent heart attack while surfing, keeps growing each day at the corner of Bonair Street and Neptune Place in WindanSea as friends and families add bouquets of flowers, posters and other memorabilia.
Smith was eulogized by former business partner and lifelong friend and surf companion, Realtor Ozstar De Jourday, as the quintessential La Jolla surfer.
De Jourday said of Smith, whom he has surfed with since they were 9 and 11 years old, respectively, “he used to have the longest, shoulder-length white hair — it was just the ultimate surf look with real blue eyes.”
De Jourday added of his friend, who had a much different look at the end of his life, “The way he went out with a lot of love, doing it right there at WindanSea. … I don’t think you could write a better script. … If you have to go, have it happen real quick like that. Knowing he’s a spirit right now, I think that’s an Aloha gladiator.”
A makeshift memorial began to emerge honoring Smith almost immediately after his death.
De Jourday said a paddle out for Smith will be held Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. at WindanSea Beach.
De Jourday said Smith was surfing with three other people, two adolescents and another man in his 60s, at the time of the incident. He said a friend in the lineup had waved Smith ahead and wished him a happy New Year while he was heading into a wave.
A short time later, a member of the group noticed Smith “swimming irregularly with his head down in the water which didn’t look right.”
De Jourday said Smith’s companions “had a really tough time getting him through the shorebreak to the beach.”
“A 911 call came in at 12:52 p.m. Dec. 31 about a group of surfers trying to assist an unconscious surfer to the beach at Neptuen and Playa del Norte just a little bit south of the Shack,” said Lt. Andy Lerum, San Diego Lifeguard spokesman. “Lifeguards responded from a short distance away at Children’s Pool. They arrived along with fire personnel and CPR was performed by medics.”
Lerum said Smith was transported to the hospital with CPR being performed en route.
“It’s unfortunate, he was known by a lot of lifeguards,” noted Lerum.
Smith died in the emergency room at Scripps La Jolla Hospital at 1:50 p.m., according to the Medical Examiner.
The exact cause of his death is still under investigation.
Smith had previously worked as a Realtor with Team De Jourday at Coldwell Banker La Jolla, and had been employed with the Hyatt Aventine at the time of his death.