Proctor, Edward "Pop"


Southern California's original geriatric surfer; a fixture at Doheny and San Onofre well into his 90s. "I may not be the best in the world," Proctor told SURFER Magazine in 1968, "but I'm sure the oldest." Proctor was born (1881) in Tynemouth, England. He moved to America with his parents, but was sent back to England at the age of 12 to attend Catholic school. In early adulthood Proctor spent time in the British Merchant Navy, worked as a ferryman in Constantinople, and mined gold in Mexico. He again moved to America in 1903, and continued adding to his resume; at various times and in various places, he was an electrician, machinist, blacksmith, steamboat engineer, and Prohibition-era rumrunner. In 1945, Proctor became an American citizen.

At age 56, in 1937, Proctor began surfing, driving nearly 200 miles from his home in Taft (near Sacramento) to San Onofre; he was small and agile (5' 7", 145 pounds), and picked up the sport quickly.

Proctor retired just before the end of World War II, and worked part-time as a lifeguard at Doheny for seven dollars a day, a post that mostly involved watching over a near-empty beach and riding waves by himself. He slept in his truck (later a 1950 Dodge camper van with built-in bed), lived mostly on cheese sandwiches, fruit, and fish that he caught himself; with dinner each evening, Proctor had a glass of red wine and 7-Up. At the end of Fall, Proctor would drive his van inland to Anza-Borrego Dessert State Park, live there, then return to Dohney in mid-Spring.

Proctor vowed that he'd still be riding waves at 100, but at 97 his driver's license was revoked due to failing eyesight. "After that," Life magazine later wrote in a feature on senior surfers, "he spent most of his time in the bathtub." Proctor died in 1981 at age 99, and his ashes were buried at sea just outside the break at Doheny.