Gregg Carroll played a unique role in skateboarding. As part of the first wave, you can catch him in the Academy Award-winning film "Skaterdater."
Greg plays the "baddie" in this short 18-minute film, and his skateboarding skills really shine.
Shot in 1965, "Skaterdater" is a masterpiece that wonderfully showcases the best aspects of the clay-wheeled era.
It's worth viewing on YouTube, and chances are you'll wind up repeatedly viewing it - it's that hypnotic!
Gregg Carroll and the Skateboarding Hall of Fame
During my first year as editor of Concrete Wave, I was able to contact Gregg, and he wrote a lengthy essay detailing his experiences with both the film and life as a pro skater on the Mahaka team.
The 1960s were indeed a heady time, and the surf/skate culture that Gregg was deeply involved with as a pre-teen stayed with him for his entire life.
Like a number of other folks in the skate industry who I have met, I didn't have a great many face-to-face visits with Gregg.
However, the times I spent with him were extremely memorable. He was a very down-to-earth person, along with being very spiritual.
I recall one day just hanging out in Dana Point, sitting on two chairs discussing life and the afterlife.
It was truly an emotional experience that lasted well over six hours. At the time we were sitting in Dana Point, Gregg had been diagnosed with cancer.
It was starting to destroy his body, but his mind was still very sharp. Gregg had come to terms with his terminal illness.
He had started to reflect on his life and his contributions to skateboarding.
It was a privilege to be with him during this time because I knew that time was indeed a very precious commodity for Gregg.
Less than a year later, cancer would take him out. Tragically, in November of 2013, Gregg Carroll passed away.
In May of 2014, he was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. The speech that he had written was delivered by his daughter.
It was truly amazing to hear his words through her voice. Gregg had prepared every detail with respect to the induction.
Eerily, he had a premonition that he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
For many in the room, there was a sense that Gregg's spirit was there. I'd say he made his presence known by being truly prepared.
Although this wasn't a funeral or end-of-life celebration for Gregg, it sure felt like it.
Feel That Special Stoke
What I took away from it was to write something for my funeral that could be read by family.
My book "The Endless Wave: Skateboarding, Death & Spirituality" is meant to spark conversations, but I'd also like to give you at least a few ideas that might resonate.
Gregg took the time to leave a message to those he left behind.
I have attended hundreds of funerals, but I have only encountered this idea once.
With the right amount of preparation and thought, your voice will reach well beyond the grave.
I heard this induction speech over seven years ago, and I can assure you, I will never forget it. What you decide to put into this farewell address is completely up to you, of course.
You can add humor, insights, or whatever happens to be on your mind at the time you write it. I have my little speech hidden in a container that holds my socks.
My brother knows where it is - so if I were to pass unexpectedly, he'll know where to find it.
You also can keep adding to the words or edit out pieces you don't think fit. I suggest revisiting the speech maybe every year or two and keep refining it.
Of course, you could write it and be done with it. Just make sure someone other than you knows where to find it.
Gregg's final words to the audience brought everything into focus.
"When those tough days come, when you feel the walls closing in on you a little, go jump on your skateboard and feel that special stoke," he wrote.
Words by Michael Brooke | Skateboarder and Author of "The Endless Wave: Skateboarding, Death & Spirituality"