Marking the Passing of the Ultimate Waterman

Many members of Heal the Bay staff were saddened by the death at age 84 of Bob Meistrell, waterman and wet suit revolutionary. A few of us share reflections on his life:

“Bob inspired many people to enjoy the ocean through surfing and diving, which is seen and felt throughout Los Angeles, and especially in the South Bay. Through the years, several of Heal the Bay’s staff, interns, and volunteers were touched by Bob’s passion, which translated for many of them into a personal charge to help protect and restore our local coast and ocean. We are thankful for his leadership and the many lives he touched.”

— Sarah Sikich
Coastal Resources Director

“I learned to dive in the early 90s. My very first wet suit was made by Body Glove, which Bob co-founded with his twin brother Bill. I remember walking into Dive N’ Surf, buying my wetsuit and seeing this old photograph of Bill and Bob holding some big bugs. That just blew me away — that year I caught my first lobsters off of Rocky Point.

The Meistrells helped shape the waterman culture in the South Bay in the early days and they were definitely an inspiration to me. Anyone that has learned to dive, surf or paddle in the South Bay owe it to Bob & Bill. They changed the world of ocean sports.

I am lucky to live in the South Bay and proud to have grown up here.  I still dive today and I support the shop. I am grateful to be a part of it and will always appreciate the Meistrell family.”

— Jose Bacallao
Operations Manager, Santa Monica PIer Aquarium

“Although sad, Bob was out on the water on his last days on earth, which I know is where he’d want to be.

Bob had taken me out on his boat a few years back to do some Reef Check surveys, and to breakfast at his local yacht club. He knew everyone’s name, was fun to talk to, a very generous man and true waterman. I bought my first SCUBA gear at his dive shop.

This is a loss for the dive and surf community, but his impacts on watermen and women will last for a long time.”

 Dana Roeber Murray
Marine & Coastal Scientist