Harry Mayo



Harry Mayo, “The Mayor of West Cliff”, caught his last wave Feb. 13, 2023.  He lived a glorious 99 years, calling Santa Cruz, California home for 97 of them. Harry was born Nov. 26, 1923 in Pacific Grove, California, to Portuguese and French parents.  His father worked as a manual laborer to support the family of six. The Salvation Army provided assistance to his family during the Great Depression and Harry’s lifelong support of this organization was recognized in 2017 when he was given A Lifetime Achievement Award.  Harry became one of Santa Cruz’s first local surfers in 1936 at 13 years old, building his board in Shop Class at Mission Hill Junior High School, and becoming one of the founders of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club. He graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 1942, and joined the Coast Guard that same year, serving until 1945 as “Captain of the Port Detail” stationed on the Santa Cruz Pier. After WWII, he worked in the local cannery and ice plant until he joined the Santa Cruz Fire Department in 1949, where he worked for 30 years. During his tenure at the Fire Department, he served as firefighter, deputy in the Fireman’s Association, president of Local 1716, and Santa Cruz Fire Captain. After a short-lived marriage in 1948, Harry married Edith Marie “Judy” Parsons, a seamstress, in 1963 until she passed in 2006. Harry was a gardener, RV traveler, dog lover, joke teller, and loyal and kind friend. He delighted in the company of those he loved.  Giving-back was important for Harry.  Harry was one of the founders of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum in 1986 and the Surf Statue in 1992.  Besides the Salvation Army Emergency Canteen, Harry volunteered for the Santa Cruz Surf Club Preservation Society, giving tours at the Surf Museum and serving as the Club’s photo archivist.  Harry donated his extensive photo collection on Santa Cruz city and surf history to UCSC Special Collections, which is available online as The Harry Mayo Surfing Photo Collection. Harry Mayo is survived by his brother Chester “Chet” Mayo;  his daughter Linda Diane Tonry, and grandchildren Sherry Jacob Padilla, Alisha Jacob Ringo, Michael Jacob, Michelle Jacob, and Heather Voss, along with countless folks up and down West Cliff, and the many surfers in the community who called Harry friend. Announcements of the paddle-out and memorial will be forthcoming.