Born in Daytona Beach, Bill Hixon moved to Neptune Beach in the spring of 1964 with 25 surfboards inside a panel truck. He leased a spot on First Street next to Red and Jim’s Barber Shop and opened up Hixon’s Surf Shop. It was perfect timing – the Beach Boys were singing about catching a wave and all over the sleepy beach towns east of Jacksonville, kids were deciding to do the same thing. Hixon’s run in the surfing business came to an end 26 years later, but that was long enough for him to become an institution in the surfing community.
“He was a mentor to hundreds of kids at the beach. His store was a refuge. If the surf was up, everyone went surfing; if the surf was flat, everyone was at Hixon’s. He laid the groundwork for what this surf town is today,” said Mitch Kaufmann, a one-time Hixon’s surf team member. “He’s the godfather of surfing here.” ECSHOF member Larry Miniard, who spent much of his youth as a Hixon’s team member, recalled, “Oh, man, that was living.”
For years surfers from Hixon’s surf teams went up and down the East Coast and out to California competing in contests, often with the shop owner himself at the wheel. “He put Jacksonville on the surfing map,” said ECSHOF member Dick Rosborough, a surfboard shaper and team member. “There was no connection to the outside surfing world until Bill brought that world here,” said Tim New, a partner in the shop for a few years.
Hixon closed his old shop in 1990. He told the Jacksonville Times-Union then that times at the venerable Neptune Beach shop were getting tough. “I think I am an institution,” he told the paper. “I have no intention of losing this store. But then, nothing lasts forever.” Although Bill left us in 2012, his legacy lives on through the influence he had on so many.
Photos by Mitch Kaufman, Kiwi and courtesy of the Hixon family