First Surfer in the United States
George Freeth was born in Honolulu November 8, 1883 of royal Hawaiian and Irish ancestry. As a youngster he revived the lost Polynesian art of surfing while standing on a board. Henry H. Huntington was amazed at Freeths surfing and swimming abilities and induced George to come to Redondo Beach in 1907 to help promote the building of "the largest warm saltwater plunge in the world."
George Freeth was advertised as "the man who can walk on water." Thousands of people came here on the big red cards to watch this astounding feat. George would mount his big 8-foot long, solid wood, 200 pound surfboard far out in the surf. He would wait for a suitable wave, catch it, and to the amazement of all, ride onto the beach while standing upright.
George Freeth introduced the game of water polo to this coast. he trained many champion swimmers and divers. George was the first "official life guard" on the Pacific Coast. He invented the torpedo shaped rescue buoy that is now used world wide. On December 16, 1908, during a violent south bay storm, George rescued 6 Japanese fishermen from a capsized boat. For his valor he received "the United States Life Saving Corps Gold medal."
George Freeth died April 7, 1919 at the early age of 35 years as the result of exhaustion from strenuous rescue work.
George Freeth Memorial
Terry P. O'Donnell (1940-2008) - Sculptor
Mark A. Protasel - Project Originator
Janice Richardson Brymer - Original Layout Designer
Public subscription and the following donors have made this memorial possible: The South Bay Lifeguard Association, Jerry & Ruth Witt, Greene's Rady Mixed Concrete Co., Hon. Charles E. Wortham, Muriel C. Hons, Tierra Del Rey Parlor No. 300 Native Daughters of the Golden West, Muriel Richardson Protasel, Pier Properties Limited, Harry Pecorelli, Stephen P. Shoemaker Jr., Tony's Fish Market, Quality Sea Food Inc., Alcast Foundry Inc., Gertrude I. Richardson.
Redondo Beach Historical Commission
Curt R. Richardson - Chairman
A "Red" Allison - Vice Chariman
Mose Goldenson - Member
Originally erected A.D. 1977
The bronze George Freeth Memorial Bust dedicated in 1977, was stolen from the Redondo Beach Pier in August 2008. The recasting was made possible by using the original mold archived and provided by the City of Redondo Beach Historical Museum. Casting for the replacement was completed by Tim Doyle and Kelly O, daughter of the original sculpter Terry O'Donnell.
Bob Meistrell, Body Glove's Co-founder, City Councilman Pat Aust, The Redondo Beach Historical Society, Starboard Attitude, and a team of community volunteers held a series of fundraisers to replace this cherished monument.
Rededicated A.D. 2010