Bobbie Smith and Natalie Kotsch: nice trophy

Natalie Kotsch, the founder of the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum (ISM), has passed away after a long battle against cancer.

She embraced the spirit of surfing, but she never rode a wave. Natalie Kotsch, 76, founded the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum in 1987.

In 1976, Kotsch moved with her family from Simcoe, Canada to Huntington Beach. In California, she got in love with surfing and the surf culture.

"She was one of the most stoked non-surfers I've ever known. My surf museum career was launched with Nat and the ISM. So sad the surf world has lost such a big supporter," says Barry Haun, curator at Surfing Heritage Foundation.

In the mid-1980s, Natalie Kotsch realized Huntington Beach was not getting enough publicity in the most important travel guides.

By 1987, the International Surfing Museum was opening its doors to the general public, with trophies, memorabilia, and historic surfboards.

"She just worked tirelessly on this museum for over 20 years. When she was diagnosed with cancer, her involvement was a little less, but she was still very much a part of the museum and major decisions," explains museum director Cindy Cross.

A paddle out will take place on March 8th, at 10am, near the Huntington Beach Pier, followed by a ceremony and celebration of her incredible life at the Waterfront Hilton Beach Resort, Driftwood Pavilion area.

Discover the best surfing museums in the world.