Buddy Pelletier*

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Buddy Pellitier was a top-ranked surfer at the height of his career in the 1980s, and his accomplishments were covered in many of the major surf publications, including Surfer, U.S. Surf, and Surfing. Pellitier’s hero status went beyond wave riding: he was recognized for an act of heroism when he saved the lives of two children during the Cocoa Beach Surfing Festival. 

With intentions to embark on a new phase in life, Pellitier retired from surfing and moved to Puerto Rico; however, a left break in his front yard pumped year-round, tempting him to keep surfing. When longboards came back into fashion and a competitive circuit got under way, he wanted to see if he had what it took to compete. Still at the top of his game, he won the Puerto Rican National Longboard Championship three times, and he officially decided to reprise his professional surfing career.

When his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Pellitier returned to the mainland to take care of her. After she passed away, Pellitier felt a renewed zest for life — and he showed a renewed vigor on his board, completing another successful pro tour. Shortly after returning home, he underwent surgery and cancer was discovered. Faced with a devastating diagnosis, Pellitier still had one final act of heroism left in him.  

At the Sweet Willy’s Pro-Am in North Carolina, the surfing community banded together and raised $2,000 for Pellitier to use as he wished. Touched by the gesture, Pellitier hatched a plan for the Humanitarian Aid Foundation, which would provide emergency funds to surfers struggling with medical issues. Pellitier devoted the last part of his life to establishing the foundation. When he passed away, he was honored with a waterman’s paddle out in the Outer Banks, and in 1995, the Buddy Pelletier Surfing Scholarship Foundation was formed in his memory. 

Photos by Norm Grosskruetz, Dick “Mez” Meseroll, and courtesy Natural Art and Pelletier family