By Justin Swanson | LB Indy
In 2006, Laguna Beach resident Tom Kemp was driving northbound on Coast Highway, passing El Morro. By utter chance, his friend Marc Pitz drove behind him.
A southbound car drifted into oncoming traffic and hit Kemp’s car head on. Pitz swerved out of the way and parked, at once in action running to the accident scene. Kemp saw Pitz approach, phone to his ear calling emergency services. His friend pulled a stunned but uninjured Kemp to the side. The other driver suffered lacerations requiring 50 stitches, though unlike Kemp, had the benefit of deployed airbags.
On the road’s shoulder, Pitz dialed Kemp’s wife, calmly reassuring her about the circumstances.
“Marc is a man of extraordinary character, care, and love,” says Kemp of his friend of 10 years.
Now Kemp and other friends are doing their part to repay that gift of friendship to Pitz, a lifetime Laguna resident, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last fall.
Pitz, 48, last month underwent extensive surgery at USC Keck Hospital, followed by a two-week hospital stay. His wife Julie was ever present.
Now he and his family, including three children, are facing a challenging three-month recovery and anticipate more surgery. Only recently have they acquiesced to accept help from friends, who this week issued a plea of support for the Pitz family.
Pitz is part owner of his family’s 35-year restaurant, Dizz’s As Is, 2794 S. Coast Highway. He started working at the restaurant in middle school and has ever since. Like many local establishments, Dizz’s has sponsored fundraisers for sports teams, Schoolpower, and the women’s center at Saddleback hospital.
And Pitz personally volunteered, coaching soccer and baseball and helping with surf teams for the benefit of his kids as well as others. Taylor, a standout surfer, is in her first year at U.C.L.A.; Makenna and Mason attend Laguna Beach High School.
Laguna lifers fill out the rest of his family: sister Chantale and her husband Kim, and brother Dominic and his wife Lisa. Pitz, Kim, and Dominic all work at Dizz’s where they make their livelihood.
Pitz hasn’t worked since having surgery and the family is in need of financial help to cover both medical and living expenses. For friends, it is an opportunity to give back to the man who selflessly gave of himself.
“Marc is always there for everyone with no expectations,” says friend Thasa Zuziak. “He will help with anything. He is the guy who comes to a party and winds up doing your dishes and helping clean up.”
Zuziak remembers a vacation in Hawaii with both of their families when she assumed Pitz would welcome a break from food preparation. He surprised them all by cooking for everyone, barring anyone from entering the kitchen. When asked why he didn’t seize the chance for leisure, Pitz replied, “Look where I am cooking.”
“He takes joy in everything he does and everything around him,” remarks Zuziak. “It’s contagious.”
Those who wish to help Marc Pitz and his family are encouraged to patronize Dizz’s or donate to a recently established fund. Donations can be made at any US Bank to the Friends of Marc Donation Fund. Or money can be sent via mail: Friends of Marc Donation Fund, c/o US Bank, 310 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.
The Friends of Marc also accept prayers, gratefully.
A fundraiser featuring live music is in the works, tentatively planned for April. More details will be announced shortly, Zuziak promises.