Legendary waterman David Aaron was the co-founder of Surf Fossils — a local surfing club in Palm Beach, Florida — as well as the Palm Beach Surfing Association. Through his involvement with these grassroots organizations, Aaron played a key role in the legal opposition to Palm Beach’s 1964 surfing ban. The case went all the way to the Florida State Supreme Court, and the ruling in favor of the surfing community set a precedent that made it illegal for state municipalities to ban the sport. Aaron also advocated to put an end to the dumping of raw sewage in the waterways of Palm Beach County.
A true pioneer on the South Florida surfing and water sports scene, Aaron’s pool business was one of the first stores in the region to sell surfboards, including quality brands such as O’Neill, Challenger, and Kanvas by Katin. He was a member of the team that placed the Christ of the Abyss statue in the diving waters of Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Aaron was also bold on his board. The biggest Florida wave he ever surfed came after a hurricane hit just off the coast. He recounts surveying the conditions with this son: “The swell came out of the north at 18 feet,” he said. “I told my son we didn’t have boards big enough and he said he didn’t care. We ran off the jetty and jumped in with our boards. We paddled out to the marker. It took us about an hour to paddle out.”
Among his many marine experiences, Aaron had the rare opportunity to go scuba diving with legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. “During the 1960s, I was co-chairman for the World Conference of the Underwater Society of America; that’s where I was lucky enough to meet him,” Aaron recalls. “He was doing a lot of underwater filming during that time. I was a member of the first group to film man and sharks swimming together with no cages. Disney approached us about the project. We didn’t have the right equipment, but it was an experience.”
Photos courtesy Aaron family