Donald laughed when he saw my May Company surfboard. Then he gave me a brand new 9-foot Scholl
by Joe Lombardo
In 1964, when I was 14 years old I would bicycle from Redondo south along PCH toHarborCityto a little known surf shop named Scholl Surfboards, managed by the infamous Walt Phillips. I would ride there three to four times a week to hang out with Donald, who started shaping there, and Harpo who did the glassing for Scholl, and who resides in Hermosa Beach to this day.
That year, as a Christmas present, my dad bought me a pop-out from May Company. I was so embarrassed by the board that I would take it down the beach where no one could see me. One day, I glassed a Hap Jacobs Diamond sticker over the May Company logo with a huge unfinished clump of resin. Donald laughed when he saw it. Then he offered to let me trade in that piece of crap for a new, light blue 9-foot Scholl. It was like the biggest thing in my life. I finally had a board I could be proud enough to bring to the beach in front of friends. From that time on I felt like a true surfer.
Through the years, Rabbit Kekai would come in town and the two of us would go down south to see Donald, Skip Frye, and Gary Linden. We’d grab lunch, ride waves, and talk story in Donald’s shop.
Donald was constantly innovating. He always saying, “Try this model. He loved making Rabbit new boards. In the late 80s, Donald befriended a kid with breathing difficulties. Donald made him a lung-like device so he could surf.
When he went to shape for Jacobs, Bing, Webber and others, he brought out new designs, a new creativity, a legacy with a continuing influence to this day.
Donald worked hard. He would wake up at 2 a.m. every morning and be at shop by 3 a.m. He would be done work by the afternoon and surfed three to four days a week.
He loved to gamble. One time inJapan, he hit the jackpot on a slot machine the casino accused him of tampering with it. He just happened to have had great luck that day. After paying him off, the casino asked him not to come back.
Business kept him extremely busy. But he made time to go on trips me and our wives to Hawaii. In the mid ‘80s, we started going to Costa Rica for the Greg Noll Reunion Contests, which evolved into the Rabbit Kekai Contest.
Donald had a unique, goofy footer style with smooth, textbook turns.
Every November I would call Donald to wish him a happy upcoming birthday. Now, I wish him a peaceful journey into the heavens. DZ