letter is a special thank you for all who knew and
loved Bob and gave of themselves so much and helped
to bring everything together so quickly for the candlelight
celebration and memorial service for Bob Pollard at
the skate park this past week.
very special time remembering and celebrating Bob
was brought together for his family and friends in
their time of sorrow.
is a letter sent from the mother of one of Bob Pollards
surfing students to Bobs wife:
As you probably know, Melissa is one of many young Marshfield
teens who was close to Bob - known in our family and among
Melissa's friends as "Surfer Bob." One day, several
years ago, Melissa and her dad were driving by Levitate
Surf and Skate.
Dad? What's that about?"
went in to find out. It was the beginning of something that
would transform our family. Surfing became a theme of our
vacations, an organizing principle of weekends, a focal
point of spare moments, and the culminating celebration
of the end of the school year as Melissa and her best friends
gathered in the Furnace Brook Middle School parking lot
to greet her dad on the last day of school - boards on the
van roof and Reggae music blaring. It was a scene straight
from a teen movie, a fact not lost on any of them and played
to the hilt. They were waaay cool! It was the last day of
school, and they were going surfing!
the moment Melissa crossed Levitate's threshold, she was
bitten by the surfing bug and captivated by Bob Pollard.
Eventually, she would entice nearly all of her friends into
the waves, and into Bob's surf shop. Bob was a central figure
in the skateboard culture, too. He was one of those rare
adults who understood and accepted kids for who they were.
Nevertheless, somehow, he inspired them to become much more.
He was a magnetic force, a Pied Piper, a real-life Peter
Pan for kids from all parts of town and from families of
all walks of life. He was a cohesive force in a suburban
town lacking cohesiveness, a motivating larger-than-life
figure for kids in the throes of adolescent aimlessness.
think Bob's life ethics were stronger than his business
ethics. He was known to loan gear to kids as often as to
sell it. Sometimes he just gave stuff away. His business
acumen may not have been sharp, but his instincts about
kids were finely honed. He was a mentor to many, wise in
the ways of kids, a gifted teacher and guide.
Bob showed countless Marshfield teens that life was more
about finding that moment of grace riding the rails than
about hanging out in the malls with a multitude of other
kids. Surfer Bob's kids rode the waves, more in touch with
forces of nature, with themselves, and with each other than
the kids trying to be just like everyone else in the mindless
malls. Surfing can be as cliché as hanging out in
the malls can be mindless. But in Marshfield, there was
a man who understood kids and the Zen of surfing, who helped
young teens find themselves and transcend the average to
seek a more challenging path full of spirit and life. As
the mother of one of those lucky kids, I wish to express
my deepest gratitude.
sixth grade, Surfer Bob helped my daughter design an awesome
science project about wind and waves. In doing so, she learned
about fundamental forces that shape the landscape and our
lives on the South Shore. The hidden curriculum turned out
to be more important though. Bob taught my daughter that
she had the power to shape her own life, to work hard to
learn new skills, to surf the turbulence, to revel in the
thrill of a great ride, to get back up again after a wipeout,
to read the variables and choose wisely, to fully commit
once underway, to respect the power and beauty of the waves
. . . and of herself. It is much more than a metaphor; it
is a way of being.
and her many friends were in the midst of these life lessons
when they lost their spirit guide. All across town kids
mourn the loss, even more incomprehensible at their relatively
tender ages. But these kids will re-connect with Bob's spirit
back out in the wind and the waves, and in the thrill of
riding the rails in the skatepark. In these joyful mediums,
they will discover a meaning that cannot be put into words,
but is deeply felt nonetheless. In the resilience of these
kids, Surfer Bob's spirit will live on.
my husband and I must turn to the heartbreaking task of
telling Melissa, who is away at camp, that she has lost
her mentor. It will be very hard. But we fully expect to
see Melissa's infectious smile and joyful "stoked-on-life"
spirit return the moment she is back on the waves. When
we do, we know we will be seeing Bob's spirit, too.
we will remind Melissa and her friends that the name of
Bob's shop is not a noun; it is a verb. It is time for all
of them to get back out there and "surf and skate!"
That's what Surfer Bob would say.
you for sharing Bob with our family.
Carolyn, John, Abby, and Melissa Wilpers