Dorian Paskowitz, a Stanford University-educated physician who abandoned medicine to become an itinerant surfer, traveling the country with his wife and nine children in tow and promoting the euphoria of an unbroken wave, died Monday at 93.
His death, with no details, was announced on the website of the California-based Paskowitz Surf Camp, the school "Doc" Paskowitz founded in 1972 and that remains a destination for surfers and aspiring ones.
The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Paskowitz began his career as a doctor but found little satisfaction in work that was based, as he saw it, on taking money from the sick. And so he pursued a new life, one with freedom and abandon that presaged the counterculture and that made him an offbeat celebrity for decades.
With a face weathered like a seaside bluff and eyes blue like the ocean, Paskowitz attracted newspaper and television reporters. In 2007, the release of "Surfwise," a documentary directed by Doug Pray, brought renewed attention to his story.
Floundering after two failed marriages, Paskowitz left the United States in 1956 for a sojourn in Israel, where he occupied himself by surfing and teaching the sport to others. News accounts credited him with having helped popularize surfing in the Jewish state.
Back in the United States, he wed a Mexican-born aspiring opera singer in 1959. The marriage produced eight sons and one daughter.
Together the family traveled the country in a 24-foot camper, free of such encumbrances as a mortgage or homework. The children followed a rigorous dietary regimen that excluded sugars and slept, one son recalled, on the floor or in hammocks.
Archival footage of Paskowitz shows him frequently bare-chested or bedecked in a lei. "It's this simple," Surfer quoted Paskowitz as saying. "I went into the water. When I came back I was a better person. Better than when I went in."