Obituary: Shelley Merrick

Shelley Merrick

Malibu resident and surfing legend Shelley Merrick passed away on Jan. 20. She was 69.

Shelley was the eldest daughter of the late Honorable Judge John J. Merrick and Roberta Roberts Merrick. Born in 1946, Shelley was raised on the point at Latigo Shore Beach along with sisters Maria and Liz and brother John. She became one of the first champion “surfer girls” of the 1950s and ’60s. Shelley was an icon and a pioneer in the world of women’s surfing and was one of the first women to join the Malibu Surfing Association in 1963. In 1968, she placed second in the U.S. Championships at Huntington Beach Pro. The subject of books and films on women’s surfing, Shelley was featured in the 1965 Film “Always Another Wave” as the “Lady of Latigo.” She is included in the California Surfing Museums’ “Women on Waves,” as well as in the book “Girl in the Curl.”

“Shelley was a mentor to many young girls aspiring to be classic Water Women and to the next generation of young ambassadors to carry the torch for the preservation, education and respect for the ocean,” a loved one shared. “She worked passionately in her professional career with Patagonia, Pepperdine University and The California Strawberry Festival.”

Still surfing until her passing, Shelley spent the last 13 years in Savannah, Ga., where she worked at Armstrong Atlantic State University, while maintaining mentorship with the local Savannah Surfrider Foundation to continue her legacy as a consummate Water Woman and her passion for community service, which she credited to her Malibu upbringing.

Shelley is survived by three children, Derek, Brandon and Colleen; five grandchildren, Chelsea, Chantal, Tessa, Ethan and River; and her siblings, Maria Merrick, Liz Klein, John R. Merrick and Brian Merrick.

A memorial service will take place in Malibu on May 16 and include a paddle out at Latigo in her honor and small service for family and close friends at Our Lady of Malibu Church.