By Tad MacPherson
Edwin Frank Gottschlich passed away before his time, holding the hand of his wife Gail, on Monday, May 29, 2017, Memorial Day. Grandpa was 88 years old at the time of his death.
There are few men in this world that managed to live life like Ed Gottschlich. He not only married the woman of his dreams and remained married to her until his death, he also fathered three fabulous children and created a small but influential modern day business success story, all while enjoying life to the fullest.
Ed was born in Colorado on June 2, 1928, to his parents Frank John Gottschlich and Margaret Kramer Gottschlich. Ed grew up pulling his weight. Ed’s parents, who had foresight about employment opportunities out west, moved to California around 1940. Shortly thereafter, at the young age of 13 and due to family circumstances, Ed was granted a driver’s license by the State of California, which he used to drive his father to and from work every day, while at the same time supporting other needs of his family as they arose. This was Ed’s life, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and World War II began.
Grandpa joined the Army, as soon as he could, at the age of 18, in 1946. He enlisted at Camp Beale, Calif., and began serving his country. After his service in the army, he was honorably discharged. My grandpa has always worn his service to his country and his status as a World War II veteran, proudly. A few weeks before his death, grandpa eagerly went through the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ process of adding “veteran” to his driver’s license.
Grandpa’s life began to blossom after he left the army. He attended Whittier College with the help of the GI Bill and then one day during the summer of 1948, while visiting Pasadena City College, he met the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen in his life, Dorothy Gail Steward. Grandpa and grandma fell deeply in love and after a modest courtship, they married on Dec. 17, 1950.
As a college graduate and a scholar, Ed chose a secure and admirable path in life as a school teacher. Considering grandpa’s accomplishments, his intellect, his understanding of politics and society — and his contributions to our nation as a soldier — his choice to contribute to the minds of students is probably his greatest contribution to our nation.
With teaching as his chosen profession, Ed and Gail embarked upon a traditional path to raise a family. Oct. 16, 1952, their first child, my mom, Patricia, was born. Kenneth was born Oct. 28, 1954, and their baby girl, Judith arrived Sept. 11, 1957.
Rising above all of Ed’s accomplishments in life, are the dates his babies were born, not only because they were highlights of his life, but also because they established the blueprint for his legacy. My grandpa has three children (Pat, Ken, Judy), five grandchildren (Tad, Shonna, Michael, Chelsea, Aly) and three great grandchildren (Seneca, Colin, Kamiah). There is an abundance of love and admiration for grandpa in this group.
While his children were young, my grandpa furthered his education by earning two master’s degrees. A great deal of his advanced education was a family affair, because grandpa would take grandma, my mom, my aunt and uncle to college campuses around the U.S. during the summer when he wasn’t teaching school. Grandpa would attend classes with other husbands and dads while the wives and children would go on field trips together. The families lived in the college dormitories during the summer and ate meals in the college cafeterias.
Grandpa lived his life as a devoted husband and father early on, but later in life and as his children grew into adulthood, he embarked upon an endeavor that was foreign to him, but an endeavor that would make history. Grandpa became an entrepreneur. In the early 1970s grandpa was given an opportunity, by his mother, Margaret Kramer Gottschlich, to manage and subsequently purchase the property on the corner of Oak Street and Coast Highway, in Laguna Beach. My grandpa and grandma have lived in Laguna Beach for more than 40 years.
Dudes, my grandpa not only helped catapult surfing, boogie boarding, skateboarding and street skates into mainstream America, he pioneered it.
Imagine, experimental long board skateboards grinding down the steep hills of Laguna Beach, the riders using little or no protective gear because it’s uncharted territory…. Imagine surfing contests at Oak Street beach and Main Beach in Laguna Beach, where the best of the best at that time, have fun and compete. All of it sponsored by my grandpa, Ed Gottschlich, and his thriving Oak Street Surf Shop.
Business was good and grandpa’s family, my mom and dad included, all helped during this time of innovation and prosperity, but there was still a next level of kick-ass that grandpa had in him before retiring. My grandpa, with the help of a talented engineer and with the support of the Bauer ice hockey corporation, designed a street skate that took the nation by storm. While still nurturing the Oak Street Surf Shop, grandpa took a chance, diversified and started mass producing street skates. Oak St Skates were groundbreaking and the best skates available at the time. My grandpa’s run with street skates lasted for years and at the end of that run, it was time for him to retire. The absolute success of Ed Gottschlich’s entrepreneurial endeavor is indisputable. His business acumen was perfect at the time and he came out on top in an industry that was topsy-turvy and risky.
As his grandson, and the author of this tribute, my grandpa’s accomplishments in business, while noteworthy, pale in comparison to what he meant to me and to the rest of our family and what he brought to us as a role-model and as a human being.
Grandpa was a second father to me, just as my grandmother — who remains thankfully still with us — was like a second mother to me, growing up. Every summer when I was young, as far back as I can remember, my grandparents would take me to visit uncle Ken in Sebastopol, Calif., and we’d hang out for a week — lots of great stories there — and then we would travel up to Lake Shasta first class with motorhome, motorcycles, huge boat and usually lots of family.
In later years the destination became Lake Berryessa, but the adventures always maintained the same level of greatness.
My grandpa was a great man who I will always remember with deep love and admiration. To expand upon the life of my grandpa, would require a novel. I will be grateful if people will accept this tribute as a testimony to how my grandpa lived. Grandpa lived life to its fullest and he shared how to do it with those he loved. He was larger than life and he will be sorely missed.