June 2, 1957 ~ September 11, 2007
Tom Newby: A Tribute
Surfer, sailor, diver, photographer, Tom Newby touched many lives.
The 50-year-old Manhattan Beach resident died Sept. 11, 2007, during a photo shoot on the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of in Sarasota, Florida.
The father of two lived his life, on and under the water, earning his stripes as a true "waterman," in the Hawaiian sense of the word.
Growing up, Newby was a regular at the Southern California surf breaks, foregoing traditional sports, to chase waves with gang of long-haired, bleached blonde water rats whom he called friends.
Newby learned to scuba dive at age fourteen. Four years later, he caught a ride on a 31-foot Ketch and sailed to Hawaii, where he polished his water skills and developed an undying love for all things aquatic.
After a brief stint as a boat captain/dive master/beach bum, Newby enrolled at the prestigious Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. to perfect his photography and pick up some pointers from surfing great Tom Curren.
In 1993, Newby joined the team at Powerboat, a Ventura-based publication, which had long-been known as the magazine of record for the tight-knit performance boating industry.
Newby quickly earned the respect of racers, readers and manufacturers for technically perfect photographs that captured the heart and soul of this adrenaline-driven sport. In next 14 years, he raised the art of powerboat photography to the highest level and became widely known as the best in the business.
Over the years, Newby shot more than 300, 000 photos for the magazine, developing a cult following among those who like to drive fast. In his spare time he also shot catalogs and advertisements for everybody from car manufacturers to hamburger chains.
But despite a footlocker of various awards and honors, Newby believed his greatest accomplishment was his two sons, Wes, 12, and Will, 9. Newby accompanied his boys to countless Indian Guide campouts, swim meets and little league baseball games, where he cheerfully shared photos of his son's teammates with other parents.
Newby and his sons recently returned from a sailing trip to Belize, where his boys got a chance to dive with their father for the first time.
A port wine aficionado and lover of fine food (particularly sushi), Newby was the ideal dinner companion, a man who could wax poetic and shut up and listen. He was easygoing and had an uncanny ability to put complete strangers at ease, yet he never abandoned his principals. In any debate, from politics to paint jobs, he was formidable.
News of Newby's death spread like a Southern California wildfire through the chat rooms and web sites frequented by those in the boating community. In the hours after his death, condolences from around the nation and the world, from as far away as New Zealand, came in by the thousands.
Descriptions such as "great guy," "class act" and "consummate professional" were mentioned more than once.
He will be missed by his two sons, wife Jill, mother Doris, sister Jennifer, close friends and colleagues at Powerboat, friends on Manhattan Beach, as well as thousands of offshore enthusiasts around the world who lived vicariously through his photographs.-Terry Tomalin.
Editor's Note: A memorial service for Tom Newby will be held Wednesday, September 19, 1 p.m., at the King Harbor Yacht Club in Redondo Beach (280 Yacht Club Way, 310-376-2459, www.khyc.org). Casual beachwear, as was Tom's preferred attire, is requested.
Per his wishes, Tom's ashes will be scattered at sea the following day. In the near future, there will be a "paddle out" (an informal ceremony where surfers paddle out beyond the surf line and join hands to honor a fallen friend).
Donations in Tom's honor can be made to the Tom Newby Memorial Fund at the Surfrider Foundation, www.surfrider.org/surfrider_membership/donate/
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