Robert "Russell" Brown RIP

Russell Surfboards owner Bob Brown died yesterday.  For those of you who didn’t know him- you missed out.  He was the the king.  Russell lived and breathed his boards and his shop, and nobody in the industry ever worked harder.  I didn’t see this one coming.

I am very sorry about the loss of your friend.  I did miss out. I did not have the honor of knowing him.  Mike

My first 5 boards were Russell’s

Great boards and a fun shop to shoot the breeze in .

Gotta love the old Peugeot delivery vehicle :slight_smile:

R.I.P. Russell


Basa just calledaroun' noon


says that russell ditched.

paddle out the third.

I said I dint believe it,

it was just a trick to get basa

to go to the mainland to work.

THen I said there wasn't....

I dunno?

basa is leaving tuesday...

kokua et al be informed...


is basa pulling my leg?






so later after I posted that last at around

what the sways clock called1039pm

I got another call from a russell employee

saying yes indeed,russell checked out.


after close to 50 years in newport

making boards for just about everybody

and fronting boards to people to sell

and employing a long list of historical participants

fell victim of dispair.


bob brown is gone

he is not replaceable...

aloha 'oe


Bob Brown (Russell) wow! What a great loss to the community. That leaves a big dark hole in the City of Newport Beach!


He really did work hard. I did not even expect this to happen so soon?

Rest in Peace!

Kind regards,


I could write a book on the man, but I really don’t know what to say.  I have thousands of classic stories.  The guy made surfboards between Joe Quigg, and Pat Curren when he was a Gremmie.  He told me quite a few times of how he backed into Gordies car at the old Holden, factory, and how pissed Gordie was, and how scared he was .  Velzy used to go see him, just to see him; “Hey gremmie”, he’d say, but the look of respect on his face said otherwise.  Some may say Russell was a transitional figure, and didn’t make longboards that long before the shortboard revolution, but I know of no other manufacturer, that operated consistently in one area for so long.  Lots of them have come and gone, and come back again, and gone, but Russ, just kept on working all the way through.

The Real Deal.   RIP

Surfed a "Brotherhood " for a couple of years.  Shaped by Bruce Jones.

Never met him but admired his boards. Whenever I was up in Newport I would stop in the shop to check out his boards.  They were always a high quality product To Friends and Family  my most sincere condolences

     Aloha Ambrose, sharkcountry and his family were just here for a visit since 1 of his daughters is going to cpllege in Flagstaff. He told me about the post about Bob and I am blown away since Bob and I had become very good friends. I understand Bobby is coming over maybe tomorrow or at least in a day or so. Darn we just lost a great friend and one of the best guys with a big heart that we have had the pleasure of knowing, What is really strange is Saturday night I got this idea I needed to call him just to say Aloha since I do that every few months.Do you know how he passed and I hope it was fast and he didn't hurt. I can remember his shop in Newport before I ever moved to Hawaii. I think I will call Cynthia and wish her my condolances. This is just to close to home and where are they going to have the paddle out,Kauai or Newport? The only ph# i have for BASA is the house number and I don't have his cell # so maybe yoy could PM me with it so incase the house # is not working. He was younger than both of us and I  thought he had many good years ahead of him plus he lived a good life even if he was a hard worker and I don't think any of the old timer board builders still make their boards but he did. Damn I miss him already and I thought the world of him and Cynthia. Get back to me with any info you might have. Aloha, Wildog

My condolences to Bobs family and friends when they read this.  Bob was truly da kine.  A core guy and one of the warmest hearts.  I met Bob back in the early 70's.  I had moved to Seal Beach to go to Long Beach State (as it was known then) and a couple of buddies were living on 32nd street Newport and hung out at Russells when they had nothing better to do.  When I had gas money I would drive down and surf the Jettys and stop by the shop.  Bob & the guys were always nice to us starving students.  Over the years I always stopped by and dropped coin when surfing Blackies or the Pier to try to repay some of that kindness.  It was a great time to be a surfer in OC and I miss those days and I will miss Bob.  I am sad today.....

When I heard the news that Russ had checked out, I wondered why it hurt so bad. If it was what he wanted then we should be happy for him? Or was it thinking about what we had lost, for that was so much.

Finally it hit me, what cuts so deep is knowing that this kindest of souls who gave so much to so many, who more than anyone deserved to feel full of happiness, was sad enough to want to leave.  How could we not have shown him how much he mattered, how could we not have helped him more when we had no problem taking from him.

In some ways Russ didn’t fit in this world anymore. That he would rather check out than sell out says so much about who he was.

His soulful ways of making custom boards have become sort of obsolete now that we have so many popouts, computer button pusher boards and boaters in the lineup.

The media calls it evolution, Russ would have no part in it. He dedicated his life to being a custom surfboard maker and since that has now become unfashionable where was he to go?

Nobody ever pulled a pinline like he did, nobody cared like he did. We have lost one of the last remaining craftsmen willing to live and die being true to the values that once defined surfing. 

I just got your pm and ans=wered it.



all day long 

thoughts go back to

why after why

cerimonial lunch

ukulele mind song writing

waiting for a go out

a bitchin place to cry.

aloha russ aloha 

aloha oe

After being a little newport grom for years and looking up to Russell as a bigger than life surfboard maker and local kingpin, Iam very saddened to hear of his passing. Russell was so kind to me over the years making sure I got a team hand me down when I was broke ect.. He was such a great guy what a wise man he was his good nature was felt by so many. . One of the best days of my life was the day I started work at his factory the pride I felt finally being able to work on Russells was a thrill this grem will never forget thanks Russ, we all loved you RIP bonkey

      Aloha Ambrose, Thanks for the PM and I know that Bob really liked you and your style of living. I would never let him pay me for fixing things around the house unless it was T-shirts or hats and he always tried to give me money and 1 time he slipped a $50 in between the shirts but I caught it before I left and left it o the porch table and boy did I hear about that one for a while. I am hurting bad and the Larry Miller thing sure didn't help. RIP Bob. Aloha,Kokua




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Famed surfboard designer hanged himself, coroner says

August 23, 2011 |  4:18 pm

RussRobert Russell Brown, who had been shaping custom surfboards in Newport Beach since the 1960s, has died. He was 63.

Brown hanged himself, the Orange County coroner's office said. He was pronounced dead at 3:08 p.m. Saturday at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.

The official cause of death was listed as a ligature hanging, according to the coroner's office.

Brown was known for his handmade surfboards and had been part of the surf community since opening his shop, Russell Surfboards, on the Balboa Peninsula in 1967, according to Times Community News.

To friends and family, Brown was known as "The King" and jokingly called "Gremmy" by some, said his stepson-in-law Kenny Milton. 


Probably a better way to see the shop and the glass shop.  Russ, really didn’t shape, but he had an eye for those who could, and the people who shaped for him were always considered the best in the most competitive surfing surfboard building area in the world, and the list of those who worked for him is like a Hall of Fame, all star team.

     Howzit grat The fact that he didn't shape is news to me since he was always shaping when he was on Kauai and he did some nice boards so maybe he was just saving his skill for the Kauai Boys,he would build the whole board from start to finish and I have seen him do it. He always called me when he needed fins and plugs plus I would always stop by to visit and make sure the house was in good shape or needed any work done on it. Aloha,Kokua

Russ, really didn’t shape, but he had an eye for those who could, and
the people who shaped for him were always considered the best in the
most competitive surfing surfboard building area in the world, and the
list of those who worked for him is like a Hall of Fame, all star team.


Al Dove, Rodger Baltierra were part of his team both very good shapers.

Ghetto you may want to list the stable of shapers that Russ has used over the years?

Back in summer 2009 Russ came to our shop and was really up beat as usual.

We we extremly suprised to hear of his sudden death.

**There are many Surf Ghettos in California Surf Towns. **

**Russ did have some really good shapers as he had a large talent pool to draft from.

      Howzit surfding, I sure would like to know who that was who was shaping at his house then because it sure looked like the Russel I knew for a long time and even Bobby Allen who lives on his property would tell me Russel was at the house shaping a couple of boards when I knew he was on the Island and I had not stopped by yet. Aloha,Kokua