“Beautiful” was one word used by many to describe the memorial paddle-out off Sandy Hook on Sunday for RFH alum Bill Caldwell — avid surfer, skateboarder, craftsman and lover of the water and animals who lost his hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer on July 20.
When, exactly, surfers started celebrating the life of their kindred waterborne spirits in this way is unknown. Still, it has become a steadfast tradition — an unspoken promise, a way to honor one another.
Call it a floating memorial honor ceremony. An apt remembrance in the place where the hearts of these souls of the water are thought to rest. Their peaceful eternity. That’s what a paddle-out is. That’s what Bill’s was.
“I’m glad to have taken part … you’ll never be forgotten,” said Caldwell’s RFH Class of ’78 classmate Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s, where one of Bill Caldwell’s surfboards hangs.
“A powerful send off to a great friend, loved and admired by all,” said RFH classmate Peggy Miller. “RIP Bill Caldwell.”
Encapsulated, it was a “beautiful day to pay tribute to a beautiful soul,” another classmate, Ginger White Tassinari said.
Rest in peace, Bill, Billy, Wilbur … You are remembered.
The following is a slideshow in memory of Bill Caldwell through the years …
— Elaine Van Develde
— Thanks to Bill, Ginger White Tassinari, Peggy Miller, Chris Wood and George Day for the photos.