Kathy Jo Anderson began surfing as a Cocoa Beach teenager in the 1960s, often competing against a group of less than a dozen women. In 1998, she became the second woman inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.
In her early teens, Anderson had a crush on a surfer boy, so she asked him to teach her how to surf. Anderson was hooked; she spent every morning surfing before throwing clothes over her bathing suit and lugging her 30-pound board to class.
Anderson soon joined Dick Catri’s legendary Hobie Surf Team and became a fixture on the competition circuit. She met Mimi Munro and Linda Grover in 1963 at a Daytona Beach competition. The three were among the first female surfers on the East Coast, but competing against each other never tested their friendship. “Sometimes we’d tease each other and say, [a judge] must have thought you were cute or something,” Anderson recalls.
Anderson has helped many others get involved in the sport — from young kids to seniors — and even provided surfboards and lessons for kids in her community who couldn’t afford them. Later in her career, Anderson started a Florida-based women’s competition tour, “The Betty Series.” The well-attended series had both amateur and pro divisions, providing a venue for up-and-coming surfers, as well as the sport’s legends. In celebration of this special event, the Florida Surf Museum invited three of the sport’s most legendary champions — Mimi Munro, Pam Hill and Anderson — to share their passion for surfing and their experiences in Florida’s surfing culture.
Surfing is Anderson’s garden. “I don’t care who else is in it, just don’t stomp on my flowers,” she says with a throaty laugh. “It’s the only inner peace I ever know.” Anderson’s home is a shrine to surfing, showcasing 52 boards, 4,000 surf magazines, and 100 trophies.