“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again, until the day we don’t come back leaving only that which was touched along the way.” — Chasing Mavericks
Ed Romer, known as “Dangerous Dad” to the local surfing community, died Monday in an accident in Ellijay, Ga., leaving behind an everlasting legacy with all those who crossed paths with him. Ed was a man of the sea, but most importantly a loving husband, boyfriend, father, grandfather and veteran.
There is no lack of clarity that, Ed, a fellow Jacksonville waterman, came from the ocean.
His love for surfing began in Jones Beach on Long Island. In 1963, Ed arrived in Panama, where he was stationed, with a surfboard in hand. The Panamanians were blown away and thought he was standing on an airplane wing. He became known as the “Father of Surfing” to locals, a tribute he would carry with him to Jacksonville.
“Before I realized it, he was right on top of me! He ended up putting a huge gash into my surfboard. He asked, ‘why didn’t I get out of his way?’ I asked, ‘why didn’t you just go around?’” — Joey Romer
Ed settled in Jacksonville Beach when he retired from the Navy. His day began in nature. He awoke before the sun rose, leading him to catch a wave at first light nearly every day, often with his eldest son, Joey.
“Ed and I both had grey matching beards, so we had a kindred relationship,” explained world-class surfer, Terry DeLoach. “He was always out — a fixture for years. Kids, young and old alike, had a respect for him. There was a period where he was, literally, out every day. It was known when he got a wave, surfers cleared the way out of respect. As I head to the pier now, his spirit will remain in my thoughts as I paddle out.”
Ed’s son Joey vividly remembers his dad giving him his first surfboard when he was eleven years old. Ed would push him into waves, and sometimes they would even ride tandem together with Joey on the front on the board.
“I learned to get out of my Dad’s way very quickly,” Joey recalled. “I saw him coming down the line. I knew it was my Dad, so I sat watching him as he got closer and closer. Before I realized it, he was right on top of me! He ended up putting a huge gash into my surfboard. He asked, ‘why didn’t I get out of his way?’ I asked, ‘why didn’t you just go around?’”
Thus, the name, “Dangerous Dad,” was born. It is no secret in the local surf community that If you saw Dangerous Dad coming down the line, you immediately paddled out of his path. He didn’t give up set waves, but, honestly, what surfer would? Ed’s soul and style, in and out of the water, will remain timeless and cherished by all.
“The loss of Ed ‘Dangerous Dad’ Romer is tragic, not only for his family, but for the local surf community, as well. Ed was a fixture at the pier and one of the most colorful characters of our great local surf community — loved by many, feared by some and misunderstood by most,” Mitch Kaufmann, known as the unofficial “Mayor” of Jacksonville Beach, explained. “He seemed like a grumpy old guy who sat on the outside, waiting for the big waves with his orange hat, booties and his big long board, but when you got to know him, he actually was a super, kind-hearted, intelligent man and a cool guy. He will be missed.”
“As I head to the pier now, his spirit will remain in my thoughts as I paddle out.” — Terry DeLoach
There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea. The community’s final goodbye to “Dangerous Dad” will occur in the ocean during a memorial paddle out. Surfers, friends and family, will gather together at Sixth Avenue South, the location of the original pier, this Sunday at 9 a.m., to share stories, shed tears and embrace one another as they celebrate Ed’s life.
In Ed’s words, “What wave riding to me is escape,” captured by Chad Dennis.