|Birth: ||Aug. 12, 1917|
Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Feb. 3, 2011|
Los Angeles County
South Bay resident and renowned surf photographer.
Photographer and co-founder of Surfing Magazine.
Surfing photographer LeRoy "Granny" Grannis of Hermosa Beach, who died Thursday at age 93, will be remembered in June during a memorial paddle-out at Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes Estates. Grannis, who helped shape global surfing culture with his images from Southland swells, died of natural causes at a nursing home in Torrance, the Daily Breeze reported. Grannis was born on a kitchen table in his parents' home on Fourth Street in Hermosa Beach on Aug. 12, 1917, according to the newspaper. He grew up in the surf town, and friends started calling him Granny in grade school. He started surfing near the city pier when he was 14 on a pine longboard, and he was among the first members of the Palos Verdes Surf Club, founded in 1935. For 31 years, Grannis balanced a career with General Telephone Co. - surfing, photography and his family, according to the Daily Breeze. He met his wife of 69 years, Katie, on the beach near 12th Street in Hermosa. The couple have four children together: John of Hermosa Beach; and Nancy, Frank and Kit. Katie Grannis died in 2008. It was a visit to a local doctor that changed Grannis' life - and the history of surfing, the newspaper reported. Grannis had been suffering from stress at work and developed an ulcer. His doctor recommended taking up a hobby and he picked up a camera. After some guidance by a friend, Grannis took to the craft. It was 1959. He would spent hours photographing surfers in Hermosa, then go back to his Monterey Avenue home to develop film in his darkroom. "We would all sit around his house and bother his wife, and ask, 'When will the pictures be done?' " said veteran surf board shaper Hap Jacobs, a Hermosa native who first met Grannis as a kid while surfing off the city's beaches. Among Grannis' memorable photos is one of Dewey Weber surfing in 1966 off 22nd Street in Hermosa. Weber, a Mira Costa graduate, would go on to build a surfboard and clothing empire. He died in 1993. "Without LeRoy Grannis capturing that moment of that cut-back turn, does Dewey Weber become the figure he was? Probably not," said Hermosa Beach City Councilman Jeff Duclos, an avid surfer who knew Grannis. "The South Bay was pivotal in the development and advancement of surfing. He was the guy who told that story in compelling and inspiring images." Hermosa Beach officials are moving forward with a plan to build a monument depicting the Grannis photo of Weber on the corner of Pier Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. The Hermosa Beach Surfing Memorial is expected to be funded entirely with private donations and, once completed, will rise more than 10 feet above the ground. Grannis is also a member of the city's Surfer's Walk of Fame. Grannis was widely considered to be one of the surfing's first professional photographers and produced the bulk of his iconic catalog during the 1960s, when the sport's popularity began to soar. "He had a huge influence on the surfing community," John Grannis said. "Many surfers who would not have been known became known because of his photographs." Grannis sold his first photograph to Reef Magazine for $7, and it was published in 1960. In 1964, he would go on to co-found International Surfing, now known as Surfing Magazine, and work would continue to appear regularly in surfing publications during his life. Grannis used Pentax cameras throughout his career. Although Grannis first got his shots using a tripod while taking still frames from the beach or perched on a longboard on the shoulder of waves, he would be among the first to develop water housing equipment for cameras. He built a box made of plywood and fiberglass, put in a camera, and attached it to the nose of his longboard. With the new technology, he set out across the globe to document the sport's finest athletes. Grannis' favorite spots, fittingly, were surfing's biggest stages: Pipeline and Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. "Well, I got three or four weeks a year of vacation, which I usually spent on Oahu," Grannis told the Daily Breeze in a 2007 interview. "From 1961 to 1974, I never missed a winter on the North Shore, because that's when the big waves hit. Most of the top surfers congregated there during that time period, so I was able to get real good pictures." The Grannis family traveled together often and John would be seen next to his father as he snapped photos. "I was his little shadow, I was that kid under the tripod all the time," said John, now 54. "I was fortunate to have a father like him. Each day was a blessing." On Friday, as word of Grannis' passing circulated throughout the close- knit South Bay surfing community, those who knew him reflected on his legacy. "He was a great man who really lived his life to the fullest and captured history while he did it," Spyder Surfboards co-owner and shaper Dennis Jarvis wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Breeze. "He will be missed." In addition to his four children, Grannis is survived by six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild. A book of his photos from the 1960s called "Photo: Grannis," was published in 1998. Another hardcover book, "Leroy Grannis: Surf Photography" of the 1960s and 1970s, was published in 2007. Grannis was also featured in the 1999 documentary "Surfing for Life."
(LA Daily News, Unknown Writer, Feb. 5, 2011) (bio by: MillieBelle)
Katie LaVerne Grannis (1919 - 2008)*
Pacific Crest Cemetery
Los Angeles County
Created by: D K Railsback B
Record added: May 05, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 69364835