Andy Rooney, once said, “I’ve learned....That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.” Well, through knowing Lorton Mitchell, we are not only smarter but more compassionate, dedicated, more observant and a very blessed community to be surrounded by his beautiful custom homes and endearing legacy. 

In Lorton Mitchell’s honor, Lorton’s Precision Decision Surf Festival will be held Saturday, Jan. 30 at Shipwreck’s Beach by the Shores. From the event’s proceeds, 50 percent will go to research funding for Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation (info@accrf.org) and is tax deductible through CSA. The other 50 percent will go towards a scholarship fund that will be given to a CHS college bound senior.

It goes without saying, Lorton was a dedicated brother, husband, father, friend, prolific home builder, generous philanthropist, but there is more to Lorton that his family and friends would like to share at Lorton Mitchell’s “Precision Decision” Surf Festival. He was also a beautiful storyteller, possessed a keen sense of humor, a wicked ability to perfect and carry out epic practical jokes, a brilliant “man of the sea” and without a doubt, an awesome surfer. He taught countless groom and grommetts (young surfers), his passion for surfing, even taking them on surf trips, rigorous “Dawn Patrol” surf sessions (hitting the surf before sunrise) while making sure they all knew their “surf etiquette” both in the water and on land.

As a teen, Lorton was your typical “California surfer” (Jeff Spicoli), with long blonde hair, sun kissed face, daily uniform of wide wale cords, plaid shirts and “wallabies;” he also had a bunch of very cool friends. Life was good. In school Coach Green, who taught wood shop in the early 70’s, would joke, that the shop was always in the red due to Lorton Mitchell, using up such a huge supply of wood for all his complicated furniture projects. You might say”A very prolific custom home builder was hatched in that class.”

He was nicknamed “Precision Decision” coined by Darcy Nixon, used by many, to sum up his persona. I guess you could say, he had a proverbial blueprint for every aspect of his life, from marrying his soul-mate Carolyn, raising his three amazing kids, planning “global-family surf trips,” catching fish, honing lifelong friendships, even cooking the perfect pancake.

That is not to say, he did not have a “story to tell.” Lorton shared this story with us two weeks before he passed away. It took place when he was a sophomore in high school. He and Dan Riley heard there was an epic swell in Baja (near Los Gaviotas), ot to be missed. So, they snuck Flonnie’s (his beloved mom) car and drove down to Mexico. The waves were lining up perfectly. They surfed for hours. As Lorton  was getting dressed on the rocks, Dan was catching his last wave in. Just then, Dan caught an epic wave, Lorton looked up from grabbing the car keys and in his excitement, dropped the keys into the ocean. For sometime they searched for the keys. No luck. Lorton had to hitchhike home, sneak Flonnie’s spare keys out of her purse, beg an old girlfriend to give him a ride back to Mexico, grab Dan and the car, all in time to take a date to a concert that night. In the end, he did get caught and never made it to the concert but boy, did he have a story to tell! 

He once placed a classified ad, that read “Tom [Pojo) has decided to fulfill his lifelong dream and retire to Cordon, MX. He will be selling all his wordily treasures, along with his boat.” Yes, poor Mary and Tom, had a line waiting at their door, 6:30 a.m. sharp with “garage sailors,” ready to cash in on all Tom’s treasures! Priceless.

Even as Lorton fought his cancer, he never lost his sense of humor and his will to live. Here are a few quotes, from one of his many e-mails:

“It is barbaric and easily the worst pain and suffering I’ve ever imagined, enduring, pregnancy be damned, this has you beat girls.”

“I want to thank each of you for all of your support. Just knowing so many people are in your court, thinking and praying for you is an amazing feeling. I’m eager to serve and enjoy life in no particular hurry. We’re heading to Kauai for a week at the end of the month. No better place on earth to appreciate God’s wonders.”

”My challenge for you tomorrow is to pick out one thing that you have taken for granted lately. Take the time to appreciate and acknowledge this gift. Enjoy your coconut pancakes. Love to all of you.-Lorton”

So as the passage states “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...” there will be a surf festival on the beach, to remember Lorton, complete with a potluck breakfast (bring a dish to share), surf “competition,” sandcastle/hole digging contest and later in the evening an “event gathering,” with dinner, the Shotgun Blues Band, a live auction at Coronado private residence from 6 to 10 p.m.

The Jan. 30 surf event has a $35 entry fee for those under 18; $75 for those 18 and over and will run from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. (rain, no event). The evening portion of dinner, dancing, auction after party (rain or shine) is$50/person, $90.00/couple and will go from 6 to 10 p.m.

For more information, visit www.coronadosurfingassociation.org.

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