Deadshaper - a label, a story, a slice of life.

To Whom it May Concern

I will be  doing some new branding based on the Deadshaper logo, which many people have told me they like it because it has that 1970's feel to it.
The logo was created for me by Robert Heeley, a popular California surfer artist who committed suicide last year (2014). He was a caring and gifted artist plagued with demons that apparently finally got to him. I had a nephew who ended his life heartbroken over a girl..... such a shame.  It haunts me to this day to be honest.  Rest in peace for both of them and to the many troubled souls that are in or have left our world.
The significance of the logo is because it was created based on my "death" in a car accident in 1990. Given less than a one percent chance, I survived and rallied back from what is termed  "very deep coma" only to emerge as a quadriplegic. At one point my medical records states that I had no brain activity and was therefore, clinically dead, although luckily brief, as an organ harvesting team was on standby. 
After release from the hospital, I attended a couple months of out patient therapy and was classified as "Severly Disabled".  I was put on disability where I was to survive on $517 per month.  I was penalized if I sold off any personal items of value unless I declared them to SSI so they could deduct those "earnings" from what they gave me from my previous Social Security contributions.
Life sucked.
I designed my own therapies and over several  difficult years, I was able to bring myself back to the forefront of surfboard design. A major challenge was in learning how to walk before I could shape again.  After release from the hospital, I could not work a simple screwdriver.
I developed a demanding therapy program based on Nutrition, Strength, Flexibility, Coordination, & Fine Motor Coordination.  I studied or underwent orthodox and unorthodox healing strategies including Homeopathy, Gerontology, Aruveyda, Acupuncture, Rolfing, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) Orthomolecular Medicine, Chiropractic, along with more fundamental therapies, training and re-training:
Weight, Swimming, Balancing, and Dance training as well as other self designed therapies for physical and cognitive improvement or restoration.
I became what is termed a "seeker" and left no stone unturned in my goal to reclaim my life and personal power.
The repair of my body and brain became a full time occupation. During the first two months of out patient therapy, afterwards  I would then carefully make my way  a few blocks down the street using  a walker down to the Reeves Medical Library at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.  Many people don't realize the public can access the library, which I did after each physical therapy session to access and study medical journals on Neurology.  I had sustained what is termed "Severe Brainstem Trauma" resulting in loss of vision in my left eye and I had lost my sense of smell.  Although light vision continued for a few months, chiropractic adjustments helped my impaired limbs but my eye went dark one day and never returned. This event was one ray of hope that was extinguished forever. 
My research and quest included the use of "smart drinks" as outlined in Dirk Pearson & Sandy Shaw's book "Life Extension" a biomedical approach to gerontology, as well as  early American common sense hillbilly therapies as detailed in Jethro Kloss's "Back to Eden". I read numerous books to glean information or hope from including "Quantum Helaing" by Deepak Chopra,  "The Body Electric", books about Edgar Cayce and subjects dealing with  out of the body experiences aka Astral Projection. 
 Locally I was regarded as "the Michael Jordan of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) comebacks and have helped and inspired many head injury victims in my local community. Today I shape surfboards while still being challenged with quadraparesis, which is paralyzed muscles in all four of my limbs. I have learned how to transcend the physical limitations while also compensating for loss of approximately 15% of my nervous system.  I have also learned to endure severe chronic pain that is an every day reminder of my fateful event. 
Long ago I made the choice not too suffer from the pain but to use it as an opportunity to challenge myself to aspire to greater heights. I believe from adversity springs the call to greatness.
I refused to be a victim.
The death experience is  a rare and unique event that, much like cancer survivors, can have a positive impact on how one chooses to live their life thereafter.
My story is a true comeback story and has huge appeal while inspiring people that have enjoyed and embraced  the Hollywood "Rocky" movies and other such stories.
Today, the concept of becoming a "deadshaper" has new signifcance to me. Since the advent of scans, files and cnc milling, all the "deadshapers" of yesteryear can now compete alongside all living shapers.  Eventually all of us become deadshapers where your physical existence will be set free from the harsh gravity that keeps us grounded to our planet, but eventually degrades all our bodies.
Gravity sucks BTW. 
MiniMMAX, V8, Time Capsules and other models will still be available with their own respective labels with the option of no label, along with new models that continue to become available. 
I have included the logo for your review.

Always wondered about your sceen name,

I find your story heavy and uplifting.

And I’ve learned a lot from you already.

Most of all “fear not death, fear life”.

? Love the tribute to Mr. Charles M. Van Artsdalen!


Along the way I learned something that guys that have crappy delivery should take to heart:

Procrastination is just another form of paralysis… but voluntary!

Amazing story of perseverance. Inspiring to say the least. Required reading for those who face the challenges of recovery and rehabilitation.


Thank you. 

If I ever find time I’ll finish the book I started. 

A few have read the first few chapters… Bob Haakenson, Tim Bowler and Thomas Kendrick who is a published author detailing the early days of commercial diving in Santa Barbara. in his book “Blue Water Gold Rush”.  He told me my writing was much more accessible to readers than his.  His encouragement is quite welcomed.


He also said getting published was one of the most difficult tasks in his life. 

Mine is an autobiography, and the story is unfolding and being written as I live it.

I’m sure you get that.

During my long recovery my energy was so sparse I began to think of what I needed to get if it required walking across a room to fetch something.

After awhile, this sort of thinking became deeply ingrained in me and I began terming it “economy of movement”.

Here is a good example of my multi-tasking in action when a customer wanted the standard fins black instead of white and my courtyard gate could use another coat of paint.

Love a good comeback story!

Figured you were a deadhead guy or something.

I love that logo.

Anything hand-drawn is awesome in my book.

I want a T-shirt when you make 'em.

Good on ya!

You are very much alive my dead friend.

Did make a comment on Butch and w/ Wind & Sea detail there is no one else.


Others tribute’d (that I can make out) Foo, Velzy, Diff, Irons and good old Dora.


Be humble and maintain great respect to others.

“Words of Iron”

Blessings to you Bruce!

Bradbury is up front next to my old shaping buddy and quasi partner BK (Bob Krause)… great shaper in his own right and close friend. He died in a freak car acident while on surfari in Costa Rica.  I came home from New Zealand to a phone message from Clyde Beatty trying to break it to me as gently as possible before someone else put me in shock.  BK was a key part of my team at The Surfing Underground during the height of our windsurfing success. He later went on to shape for Al Merrick at C.I. which he had done years before hooking up with me. 

John Bradbury was what Renny Yater once said “my best glasser ever”.  JB went on to shape some of the most high performace surfboards  ever ridden in Santa Barbara… I grew up on both Renny and JB’s boards… I glassed so many of JB’s shaped blanks that he once asked me to glass for him full time but I declined because I was 17 and still in high school.  He died of leukemia and I miss him to this day.

And thanks for the kind word Barry… we are cleaning up the original artwork file that the late Robert Heeley did for me and t-shirts are just around the corner… yes, I decided to keep that 70’s vibe alive with my homage I explained to Rob and from the response, I think he nailed it.  R.I.P.  R.H.

I guess I’m a rare case… being a deadshaper that went down the blue tunnel and for some reason I got detoured back… I will tell you this… once you are leaving, it is effortless and very liberating… t**he bitch is in coming back**.

… in the first 24 hours on life support, they told me I lost 31 lbs. of body mass…  

Bruce, that is a powerful story. It is good that you would offer it up as inspiration for others. Others who have never had the challenges you have faced and overcome. I was particularly moved by your comment that you would not be a victim. That is a seductive exit that so many people take when faced with far less than you. Please finish your book. 


Thanks Greg.

In many ways I’m a very private person, but in other ways I’m an open book. 

We all can choose to hide our inner feelings from our fellow mankind, but I don’t know where that gets any of us?

What is the point of going about our daily lives without sharing or debating, or agreeing to disagree?  

If I can be a ‘sphere of influence’ to impact others in a positive way or to (at least) stimulate another individual’s consideration of this journey we call life, then, in some small way, I’ve left my mark somewhere along the timeline of infinity.

…speaking of deadshapers, I’m wondering if anyone knows if Bruce Jones’ work is being continued by his survivors, family, whatnot… or if he was not using cnc files (unlikely)…  BJ was such the good craftsman.  I was once asked by a distributor from South America (1980’s) to fill a container full of counterfeit Bruce Jones sailboards at the height of my windsurf board making career, and I refused to do it.  

It’s a shame to see his incredible work die with him!

Long live deadshapers!



I’ve always enjoyed your writing and have copied a number of gems that you’ve shared over the years.  I appreciate your lack of BS and the even-keeled clarity with which you analize whatever topic is at hand.  I hope the younguns on the forum listen when you speak.  Please put me down for a copy of any book you choose to write.  I don’t care if it’s about the life cycle of dung beetles.  It’ll be a good read.

You give me inspiration to get back in that “writer’s chair” which is, at least in my book, an uneviable task mainly resereved for neurotic insanely disciplined types like Stephen King or more inspiring writers Clancy, Michener or Grisham… I will never compare to them in a million years… but maybe, just maybe, my "ultra accessible writing style might someday be compared to J.D. Salinger.

I have to prove I can walk the walk.

The jury is out… let’s wait and see.

Until then, I defer to the brilliiant and ever eclectic Ambrose…


Strange days.

Somehow stumbled via Stanley’s/surf crazy onto your site.

Naples reef!

Was there way before to the killing and shut down.

Only spot I ever surfed naked, no one but my girlfriend around!

Those were the days!

Eh, high tide was a bitch with no leash.

Yes, those were the good old days of surfing Naples when we could park along the train tracks and walk across the field w/o being harassed. They used to grow corn in one of the fields and we would pull a sweet juicy ear of corn off a stalk to replenish ourselves. Some idiots from down south drove a cow off the cliff and the rancher shut the privilege down… even though the Radon boys offered to reimburse the rancher for his loss.  Those days of bliss are gone forever, along with building campfires at Haskell’s and sleeping on the beach.

Logo is being cleaned up from the file and set up for t-shirts and surfboard lams.  A lot of people really like it while one woman on FB said “amazing story but I hate the new logo…”

I love her honesty… this is what makes America … somewhere else she might be escorted to the back of the building and put down.

This has been very educational.  I really did not like that Dead Shaper Logo. The whole death head thing in surfing was way over done too faddish. But now it makes sence and for you it is relavent and has meaning Not a simple mindless statement of how cool am I following a trend.    Robert Heeley captured the spirit.   Of course following a trend did not seem like something that the Bruce Fowler that post here would do. I admired your candor and thoughtful writing.
Thanks for sharing your story Bruce.   


It’s not easy writing that open about a personal tragedy, but if it gives someone hope and motivation to reclaim their life, then it is worth it to me.

Nobody has to like the logo, some will, some won’t, some will be indifferent…  no expectations on my behalf.

 I realize this is a no touch, death is taboo society, but sometimes there is a method to the madness.

Dare to share.

That there’s some gutsy perserverance Bruce.  Very cool to be part of support groups for others who are struggling with similar events. CONGRATS on the successful return!