Legendary board shaper remembered

Published On: Nov 10 2012 10:00:00 AM HST

It was a final paddle out on Saturday morning in memory of legendary board shaper, Donald Takayama.

Takayama passed away last month, but his legacy continues on the water.

An estimated 300 people gathered at Queens Beach in Waikiki for the celebration of life for Donald Mo'ke Takayama.

"He was a man with a big heart, the biggest heart there is," said China Uemura, a surfer and friend.    

Takayama was as comfortable in the water as he was in the shaping room.

"He was like an ambassador to surfing. He had so many friends all around the world. And he made such great surfboards," said longtime friend Ivan Harada.

Evident by the many boards he shaped, Takayama had a gift.

He began shaping surfboards at age 12 and over his lifetime, shaped longboards for some of the most iconic surfers of all time.

"He made me a champion on his board.  I’m one of the guys that rode on his board and when I went to California and I was an amateur and he made me a top amateur champion," said Uemura.

Friends since they were 17 years old, Peter Pope said  those who set the standard in the surfing industry are leaving too soon.   

He has a picture of himself, Takayama and Harold Ige, taken on Hermosa Beach in 1963.

"These were probably two of Hawaii’s greatest shapers of longboards at the time," said Pope.  Ige passed away in January of this year.

Takayama died on Oct. 22 at age 68 due to complications from surgery.

Saturday’s memorial in Waikiki where Takayama grew up was timed with a memorial being held in Oceanside, California where he built his business.

Those who knew him say Donald put his heart and soul into each board he made.

His spirit, they said, is what will be with them at their celebration on the water and always.

"He was a great friend," Harada said, holding back tears.


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