More than 100 of John’s friends joined members of his family on the sand near Ocean Beach’s Avalanche break to remember John. Dozens of surfers also paddled out on to the ocean, forming a circle in John’s honor.
From the event’s program:
“John spent his youth growing up in Texas and at the age of 21, in search of better surf, made the journey out to San Diego… John met his wife, Troy, in Ocean Beach in 1994… John and Troy settled in Ocean Beach and started a family, welcoming daughter Brynn in 1998 and daughter Aidan in 2002.
“John will forever be remembered for his natural charm, laid-back demeanor, high integrity – and a simple kindness that he extended to everyone he encountered in his life. John was also well known for his work at Merchants Postal, where he helped provide critical employment, direction and a sense of compassion and dignity to many people from the homeless community in the Ocean Beach area.
“Above all, John’s greatest loves were his family, friends and time spent in the ocean. He was a devoted husband and father, a loyal and genuine friend, and an avid surfer who lived life to its fullest.
“John is survived by his wife Troy Kays; their daughters Brynn and Aidan; his eldest daughter Ashley Libkie of Anchorage, Alaska; his mother Ericka Conaway and step-father Ed Conaway of Lake Jackson, Texas; his mother- and father-in-law Briar and Merv Luckie of Auckland, New Zealand; and an abundance of life-long friends.”
I got to know John when I lived on Brighton Street, just a few doors down from him and his family. John was almost always doing one of three things when I saw him: heading off to work, riding bikes with his daughters, or jumping into his wetsuit as he prepared for a surf session down at Avalanche, the jetty, or Sunset Cliffs.
Over the years, I would occasionally jump in John’s big white van and join him on one of his daily surfing outings, bringing my video camera along to capture his remarkable skills on film. As a small tribute to John, I collected some of the best shots from those sessions in this short video:
For information on how to donate to the Kays Family memorial fund, see WeLoveSurferJohn.com