HANALEI — It’s not often I’m at the beach on a work assignment.
This time, it was beyond a task. How can the life of a generous, unassuming man be summed up in any way, shape or form? It’s impossible.
What today’s memorial service at Hanalei Bay was about … mattered more to the people who loved Andy Irons. Thousands and thousands of friends arrived at the beach in the morning, sharing in the sorrow felt by Irons’ family. They just wanted to show their appreciation of someone who was more than a surf king.
Andy Irons, after all, continued to come home, schedule permitting. Pine Trees was still his hangout. It’s safe to say, it was a cathedral, home and therapy room all in one.
I spoke with several surfers who remember being in the Irons Brothers’ annual keiki surf event. To them, he wasn’t just a big-time pro surfer. He was one of the good guys, someone who stuck around and made so much happen for the kids. Irons didn’t try to be a star, though he clearly was one of legendary proportions. He always made the water, the waves, something to be respected, even as he challenged himself like almost no other surfer alive.
Young pro Makua Rothman calls Irons “an animal” on the waves, so unafraid in any environment, but smart enough to pick his shots.
But for the most part today, the tight-knit Hanalei community united with surfers and surf lovers around the globe to honor the humble son who put the town on every tube rider’s map.
Rest in peace, Andy Irons. They, as in everybody, miss you like crazy.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser