Bob Wise, founder of one SF’s longest-running surf shops, has died

Bob Wise, founder of one SF’s longest-running surf shops, has diedImage: Wise Surf Shop via Facebook
Joe Kukura
Published on January 04, 2023

We brought you sad news back in 2019, when Ocean Beach surf shop fixture Wise Surfboards closed, after 51 years in business in San Francisco. But we have even sadder news today, as we learn that Wise Surfboards founder and local surfing culture legend Bob Wise died, just days before Christmas. He was 74.


“It is with great sorrow in sharing our deepest condolences for Bob Wise's family,” according to a Facebook post from a friend. “He kept vigilance in having a place for local surfers to come and hang out and talk shop, offering the newest and latest surfboard designs. A quiet humble man, who didn't take sh*t from anyone, with a no-nonsense approach to running the longest running surf shop in SF history.”

Image: Google Street View


When Wise Surfboards opened in 1968, it was not at the three-floor Great Highway and Cabrillo Street location you may remember. According to the still-active Wise Surfboards website, “Back in 1968 Bob Wise opened a small shop on Wawona Street where he shaped and glassed surfboards for the local surfing community. As surfing grew, Bob began selling boards from some of the world's most acclaimed shapers.”


A Chronicle remembrance when the shop closed in 2019 points out that, back in the pre-internet days, when you called Wise Surfboards, the voicemail changed every day. But it was always the voice of Bob Wise saying, “For what it’s worth, conditions today are ...” 

Homages are pouring in on Bob Wise’s Neptune Society of Northern California obituary page. “For thirty years I considered Bob a friend,” one friend writes. “He and I both suffered from blood disorders and when we weren't swapping surf stories, we were discussing low blood counts, hospitals, and treatments. He always had that way of picking up right where we had left off no matter how long had passed by.”