Robert Heeley and Goleta Surfing had been talking about doing a page for years.
We made several appointments to get together and do an interview,
but each time, something came up and we had to postpone it.
It saddens us deeply to finally do this, as a memorial.
The local surf community is a less colorful place now. In the midst of one of the most powerful
and consistent swells we have seen for years, we lost a jewel by the name of Robert Heeley.
Robert Heeley was a true artist and surfer and he had tremendous influence over much of
our tribe. Robert described himself as an artist, painter, surfer, commercial fisherman,
and world traveler, although he never forgot his Goleta roots.
Robert’s mother taught him to swim at 2 months old, before he could crawl. At age 7
he learned to surf at Sands, and before long he was charging all the breaks in town.
He was a charter member of the Rincon Pit Crew, and could frequently be found
hanging out in the cove, surfing, painting or just enjoying the scene. He was
committed to the purity of surfing, drawing true lines with his longboard, without a
wetsuit or leash even on the coldest and biggest days.
To most of us, Robert lived the ultimate lifestyle, surfing exotic locations around the world. He began
each day with a positive affirmation to his thousands of followers via the world wide web, then a daily
“soul cleanse”, his name for a morning surf session. He would prepare and enjoy an amazing meal,
and then begin to paint well into the early morning creating remarkable pieces of art to hang forever
on someone’s wall. He inspired us all to chase our dreams in life. But in reality, Robert’s life wasn’t
always so perfect. He had his ups and downs, and when he would get together with close friends he
would often share his crazy adventures, speaking of his extreme triumphs and absolute despair.
Recently he had been taking the art world by storm. New opportunities were coming at him
from all directions, his art more in demand than ever, and he had dozens of projects he was
getting off the ground. Robert thrived on doing paintings for commission, each one a special
request for a rendition of a favorite beach or surf spot. Of course, Robert always strove to
outdo himself making each painting better than the one before.
Robert loved to stoke people out, and everyone was amazed at how prolific he was with his art.
He has countless photos of his happy customers holding their finished painting with a huge grin
on their faces. Oftentimes he would also be in the photo, throwing the prerequisite Chaka, with
satisfaction written all over his face, as if to say, “mission accomplished”.
If we are judged by what good we did on this planet, Robert will be as big a superstar in the afterlife
as he was here. He touched and enhanced thousands of people’s lives, not only with his art, but with
his positive attitude and his inspiring lifestyle. Robert will live on through his amazing art and the
precious memories of those who had the good fortune of knowing him. Let us be reminded of him
every time we look out at the ocean to take in a spectacular sunrise or sunset. Robert’s passing
leaves us with a huge void in the surf community and he will be truly missed.
Rest in Peace brother, and thank you for sharing your gift with us.
In lieu of flowers or other keepsakes his family has requested tax deductible donations be
made to Center for Autism Understanding, Support, and Education (CAUSE) a 501(c)3
Non-Profit Organization (EIN 27-1148426; 4880 Market Street, Ventura, Ca, 93003)
to benefit children with autism and their families.
Family, fans and friends are welcome to join us at a Memorial Paddle-Out / Life Celebration taking
place on Sunday, February 23rd at Goleta Beach, Area – A at noon.
Come celebrate the life of a Goleta boy that made a name for himself, doing the things he loved.
In Loving Memory of Robert Heeley
December 16, 1970- January 26, 2014
Until then, please remember
There’s a circle of friends, family, and loved ones
Surrounding you and holding you up in prayer.
Until then, we will keep you
Closely in our hearts and hold you in our memories.
Until then, your loving and positive outlook
Will make us smile and touch our souls.
Until then, we will gaze at your amazing
Surf, sunsets, and Spirit
That you continue to share from the Heavens above.
Until then, may you be content
And know how much you are missed
And truly loved by all who ever knew you on this Earth.
Until then, we will just have to wait
To be reunited with you for eternity.
Until then, Peace, Shaka, and Aloha
Our dear friend!
By Kim Church Brooks
Special thanks to Doug Moes.