Makaha skateboards Founder Larry Stevenson has passed away at the age of 81, following a battle with parkinson’s disease. The Venice Beach lifeguard was most well-known for popularizing skateboarding in the early 1960s by marketing his board brand. According to an LA Times story: “He was the guy who said, ‘I can merge surfing with the skateboard culture,'” said Michael Brooke, author of the 1999 skateboarding history “The Concrete Wave.” “At one point in time, there was nobody bigger making skateboards.”
From his lifeguard tower, Stevenson noticed kids riding rickety, often homemade, skateboards, and he had an epiphany, he later recalled. He knew he could engineer a better skateboard and, as publisher of Surf Guide, used the magazine to link the wheeled pastime to the exploding surf scene.
“I wanted to expand skateboarding because I knew it had room to expand,” Stevenson said in 2008 in Transworld Skateboarding magazine. “I wanted to do something bigger and better.”
Working with his wife, Helen, in their garage, he began building skateboards designed to resemble surfboards. He improved the ride by replacing the steel wheels with a clay version and upgraded the trucks, the device that holds the wheels.
By 1963, he had begun mass-producing skateboards at 26th Street and Colorado Boulevard in Santa Monica. That year, he also made the first professional skateboard, naming it after legendary surfer Phil Edwards.