Stab Magazine | Obituary: Rory Parker, North Shore, Oahu

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Obituary: Rory Parker, North Shore, Oahu

North Shore icon, mentor, trainer, surfer, and the man behind a pair of Sunset Beach institutions.

news // Sep 14, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rory Parker was a quintessential North Shore character. A courageous surfer, handy with his fists, who survived the area’s thuggish drug-afflicted years to affect a positive influence on his community.

“He always had a smile on his face, he never had an attitude, he was just Rory. And he never changed, there was never a punkiness to him,” recalls North Shore lifeguard, big wave surfer, and close friend, Dave Wassel. 

Long before John John Florence, it was Rory who set the standard for kids charging at Pipeline. By 13 the goofy footer was already making his way up the notoriously cutthroat pecking order, riding waves men would pass on. 

“He was the kid surfing solid Pipe at 13 years old. Nobody did that. The next person to do that was someone like John John who was ten years younger. It was just one of those things where he was into it, he wasn’t trying to prove it to anybody. He just liked surfing,” says Wassel. 

RoryParker2

“These photos are over 10 years old LOL the good old days,” Rory captioned on this jam. (Image: Facebook)

If you grew up on the North Shore in the nineties you knew the Parker family. Their house on the beach at Sunset Point directly overlooked Backyards and would serve as a “safe haven” for much of the talent coming out of the seven mile miracle during that period. 

“The one safe place you could go was the Parker’s house and it was also right on the water,” recalls Dave. “It was this little safe haven where it was okay just to be a kid, just to be a surfer, you didn’t have to prove anything,” he says. 

These were the days when Da Hui ran the strip and North Shore heavyweights like Jonny Boy Gomes, Marvin Foster, Eddie Rothman and Mickey Nielsen called the shots. Beneath them, however, were legions more lesser-known though equally intimidating figures. 

“It was a scary place being a kid growing up on the North Shore. There was a lot of basically thugs,” says Wassel. 

“It was a time and place where you walked down the steps (to the beach) and the guys who were up on the shoreline in those houses, you wouldn’t even look up in those houses,” he says. 

But not at the Parker household. 

“It was one of those nice places where you didn’t have to wonder who was gonna come through the door. It was a good thing. Everyone who came through there came through with a smile. ”

RoryParker3

“He always had a smile on his face, he never had an attitude, he was just Rory,” says Dave Wassel. (Image: Facebook)

Jamie O’Brien, Mark Healey, Marcus Hickman, Kahea Hart and Makua Rothman were just some of the regulars at the Parker’s. Rory’s mother was also a key figure in the Hawaiian NSSA surfing program, making her one of the most well-known women in Hawaiian surfing. 

Rory was also a pioneer of cross-training in surfing. The gym he set up next to the family home would become a DIY North Shore institution, providing training for countless surfers and local youth over the years. His reputation throughout the area, apart from being a world-class surfer who rode for SMP and Volcom, was as a fitness machine. Call him any time and he’d open up the gym, break out the pads, and put you through your paces. 

“You could always talk to him and if you wanted to train he’d be more than happy to whoop your arse into shape,” says Wassel. 

His loss is being felt deeply on the North Shore, along with the surfing community at large.

“Everyone always goes through these growing pains in life and sometimes you’re like ‘I wonder how he’s gonna act in it.’ Rory was always on an even keel, and he was just a man from a very young age,” says Wassel.

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