Hundreds gathered at the beach in Briny Breezes on Sunday to say goodbye to and celebrate the life of a legend in the surfing community.
Ron Heavyside, who in the 1960s opened the popular Nomad Surf Shop that sells custom surfboards, clothes and beach gear, died in April at 69 from complications while he was in the hospital for an illness, said his son Ryan Heavyside, who runs the shop with his brother Ronald Jr.
Heavyside was a well-known surfboard shaper who had a huge impact on the community.
“He was just a genuine, happy guy,” Ryan Heavyside, 33, told The Palm Beach Post. “He always just would give a shirt off his back for anyone. That’s why I think he not only affected the surf community but everybody else.”
Heavyside helped others start businesses in the surfing industry and lent them materials.
“He was always willing to help,” Ryan Heavyside said.
In 2017 Heavyside was nominated for induction in the 2020 class of the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame, according to Surfer.com.
Generations of residents shop at Nomad. Steve Abbott said he started going to the surf shop with his family when he was about 12 years old and now he’s 42. Abbott was one of the many who attended Heavyside’s paddle-out event Sunday at Dog Beach behind Nomad.
“We all knew we were going to know each other forever,” Abbott said. “That celebration of life proved that.”
About 600 attended the celebration on the beach and 350 surfers paddled out into the ocean for a ceremony where Heavyside’s ashes were sprinkled in the water. Loved ones shared stories and memories.
A drone flew over to capture the magnitude of the event and support for the Heavyside family. (The saying “pictures speak louder than words” couldn’t be more on the money in this situation.)
“They were just a huge influence that whole family on the way we lived our loves and the respect we had for each other and the ocean,” Abbott said. “It grew from a small little shop to a huge community. If you went to Dog Beach and you hung out at Nomad Surf Shop you were part of the family.”
The Heavyside men are true locals.
They lived in Ocean Ridge when the boys were growing up. Later, Ron Heavyside lived in an apartment above the shop.
The brothers said they’ve received a “crazy amount of support and love” from the community. Flowers and cards are still coming into the store.
For those wondering, the brothers have no plans of selling the business or moving on. They’ll continue Ron Heavyside’s legacy.
“That’s going to be the whole way we can continue to carry on what my father started,” Ryan Heavyside said.