Colin “Doc” Couture*
Early on, Colin “Doc” Couture wouldn’t have been the first person to come to mind among those eager to build up the Eastern Surfing Association. When he was in college, Doc served as a Congressional intern, and his professional interests were in corporate law and public defense. Eventually, he settled on medicine and the field of psychology, a path that led him to run a large health care organization in Boston, Massachusetts.
But Doc’s passion was, in fact, making the Eastern Surfing Association one of the best amateur surfing organizations in the world. From 1972 until his death in 1989, Doc served as the ESA’s Executive Director. Part friend, part father figure, part benevolent dictator, Doc’s vision, philosophy and downright hard work brought the ESA from a small surfing club of 300 members to the leading surfing organization in the world, with over 2000 members at the time of his passing.
He had the amazing ability to attract talented people, nurture them, delegate jobs to them, and then sit back and let them run. He always knew intuitively where he wanted the ESA to go on any given issue, and his work ethic and dedication inspired those around him to perform at their highest level towards his goals, which became the goals of the organization.
Doc made it his business to keep the ESA focused on what was really important about surfing: the kids, the environment, working hard for surfing, having a great time with friends, and always trying to do the best he could to help others. In his mind, being the best surfer was nowhere near as important as being the best person. Giving oneself for others for no reason other than that it was the right thing to do was truly one of Doc’s guiding principles.
Today the ESA boasts over 6,000 members, due in part to what Doc did, how he thought, and the values he instilled in the organization. To this day, the ESA is something special in the world of surfing and different from every other organization currently in operation. Doc was an original, one-of-a-kind individual, and one of the truly important figures in the history of surfing. Every year, the ESA awards a member the “Colin J. Couture Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to Eastern Surfing Award,” considered the most prestigious award in the organization.
Photos by Dick “Mez” Meseroll / ESM, Kevin Welsh / Surf NRG and courtesy the Couture family