It has been 10 years since a young surfer named Dane Olson, who lived in and loved Cardiff-by-the-Sea, was lost to us.
His untimely death from surgical complications following a wake-skating injury saddened those who knew him as well as those who did not, and his memory lives on in our community from a bench in Glen Park that reads: “May the vast universe take him in its arms, and may he know in his fearless heart the great unknown,” to the Dane Olson Surfing collection in the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library.
He’s even memorialized on a plaque on the Cardiff Kook and probably would have delighted in the statue’s infamy.
Dane’s enthusiasm for Cardiff-by-the-Sea was so great that his family says he should have worked for the Chamber of Commerce.
He loved Pipes, the late Miracles, Glen Park, Seaside Market sandwiches and dinners at the Chart House where he once worked. He enjoyed sunset walks with the love of his life, Elaine Willey, while admiring the interesting architecture in the “composer district.”
He loved bodysurfing at Table Top and surfing at Cardiff Reef as well as at Swami’s.
Wide Eye Productions, an independent video production company, was started by this UCSD media arts graduate while living in Cardiff. As a sideline he created short video clips for sdsurfreport.com. Prior to his death he had taken the California real estate exam to explore yet another career opportunity in the area.
To memorialize his life the family asked the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce to recommend names of people who had the same “infectious enthusiasm” for their community as Dane did. Those selected received the Flaming Heart award as well as several gifts. Two awards were given; I was honored to receive the first, and John Noonan, who volunteers tirelessly, received the second. Awards were presented at the Hansen/Machado Surf Classic contests.
At the presentation of the second Flaming Heart awards, Dane’s younger brother, Alex, spoke these words, “From the moment he set foot in this beautiful town he fell in love with it. He loved the laid-back beach atmosphere, the unique stores and restaurants, the amazing views, and of course the ocean.” He went on to say, “It’s hard not to have fun when you are with someone who is so jazzed about whatever it is you’re doing.”
Dane’s passions were life, surfing, filming and editing, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, his friends and his family. At his Seaside memorial paddle-out one of his aunts said, “We loved him best, because he loved us best.” Family and friends have funded an extensive Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library surfing collection which continues to grow in his memory.
Though I did not know Dane, oddly enough his ashes were committed to the ocean waters in 2004 on March 23, which is also my birthday. I know that he and I would have been friends because it is obvious we shared a love for Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a jewel of a place to call home.
A founding and life member as well as past president and current board member of the of the Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, Irene has lived here since 1982.