Malibu’s tightknit surf community came together this week to mourn the passing of surf photographer Duncan McKenzie, a fixture on Malibu’s beaches known for his generosity and easygoing nature.
Social media lit up with dozens of tributes to McKenzie after it was announced he died last Tuesday, July 25–though no one contacted by The Malibu Times was able to share details of his passing.
“Duncan McKenzie was everyone’s friend and the surf community is truly mourning the loss of an incredible person,” Tracy Wright of the Mighty Underdogs wrote in an email to The Malibu Times. “He was friends with everyone on the beach, the kindest man with the sweetest disposition and an eye for some pretty iconic Malibu images. His big straw hat was a staple at First Point, running back and forth along the beach snapping photos of all of his surfing friends.”
One of those surfers whom McKenzie photographed and befriended was Kristina de Bree, who told The Malibu Times she first met McKenzie when he photographed her at a surf therapy event through the Mauli Ola Foundation a couple of years ago.
“I had gone to surfing events before, and it’s one of those things that’s really hard to capture–the surfing experience,” de Bree explained. “My parents would come with me to these events and I’d always have dinky pictures.”
De Bree, who said she had a “pretty advanced lung disease,” was able to tandem surf with professional surfer Bobby Friedman, an unforgettable experience. When she came back to the sand, she also received a priceless gift from McKenzie–photos of the ride.
“Duncan used to voluntarily go to these events and take pictures of everyone while they were surfing, and give them the pictures,” de Bree recalled. “He was such a sweet person.”
Another friend, Allen Sarlo, posted a tribute to McKenzie.
“He was such a gentle wonderful person,” Sarlo wrote in a message to The Malibu Times. “I know he is resting in a joyful place in heaven.”
Last weekend, a paddle-out at Leo Carrillo State Beach was held in McKenzie’s honor, with another event in the planning stages for the coming weeks.
A temporary memorial for McKenzie has been erected at Surfrider Beach.