1945 - 2007
"I trust the process of life.
I'm on an endless journey through eternity,
and I have plenty of time!"
-- Dave Chalmers
CORONADO -- David Chalmers, known as "DC" to his friends, didn't work. He didn't have a mortgage or a credit card. He had no computer or cell phone. And typical of so many from his generation, surfing was the primary motivation in his life.
And yet, people will be talking about him for generations to come.
Dave Chalmers was half of the surfing team of "DC & Max." With his terrier mutt he surfed every major point and reef break from Long Beach to Cabo San Lucas, sharing his philosophy and homegrown wisdom with everyone in his path.
In the 1970s the story of "DC & Max" was captured on film by the crew of "Those Amazing Animals," a national television show featuring cute pet tricks. They were recognized everywhere as surfing ambassadors, and Max was voted by the show's audiences as one of their "ten favorite amazing animals."
Unexpectedly for DC and Max it meant their simple lifestyle was thrust into the public spotlight, and a form of immortality no one could have imagined would ensue.
Surfer, gardener, surfboard repairman, poet Š Dave Chalmers died peacefully May 3 following a long bout with cancer. His family was with him and he was happy. He was 62 years old.
David Gordon Chalmers was born in Montreal, Canada in 1945. Two years later his family moved to San Diego. Dave and his sister attended Hilltop High School in Chula Vista.
For a time his life could be considered "normal." He married his high school sweetheart, had a son, held down a good job at Rohr, and even ran for Coronado City Council.
But the call of the sea and a less demanding lifestyle nagged at him constantly. He left his job. He and his wife separated. He devoted his time to the beach, and then one day a scruffy mutt with a bad over bite named Max entered his life.
Max was a Terrier mix that, according to one account from DC, was a gift from his wife in 1973. During their time together, DC & Max were the subject of two Surfer Magazine Extra features ('77 and '83), they were written about in Surfing Magazine, and Wind Surf Magazine.
The duo were also featured in the National Enquirer, San Diego Magazine, Coronado Magazine, the San Diego Union, Evening Tribune, the San Diego Log, and the Coronado Journal. Their picture adorned the cover of Visitor Magazine, and they made several appearances on local television news shows.
Along the way they were featured in a half-hour Mexican film, a Fruit & Berry Punch TV commercial, and the surf film, "A Matter of Style." During their five-minute segment in the surf film the crowd howled with enjoyment!
For another decade after the release of "Those Amazing Animals," syndicated reruns would air in places like Japan, Australia, Israel, and Mexico. DC would continue to receive mail all during that time period from people who had seen the show.
DC claimed he and the dog had surfed every point and reef break from Santa Barbara to Cabo San Lucas.
They surfed Rincon on an overhead day (six-foot-plus) and traveled across the border to Mexico more than 100 times. Twice DC let Max steer his father's sailboat from San Diego to Catalina.
Being with them in the water was an amazing adventure in itself. Chalmers' timing and agility on a big wave were well respected among his peers. He had great knowledge of the sport's history, the technique, and the "old school" approach to surfing often referred to today as "soul surfing."
He would spot a peak on the horizon before anyone else, paddle into the right spot, drop to the bottom of a sizeable wave, hit the drop-knee turn, and then join Max on the nose.
Max would hang on throughout, eyes focused on the wave the whole time. If the wave started to shut down, DC somehow would have one hand for the dog's scruffy neck, and another for his board (DC never wore a board leash) as he performed one of his patented "squatting island kick-outs."
There were times DC couldn't afford to put a good meal on his own table, but he always made sure Max had food to eat. In better times DC would roll ginseng, vitamins, and bee pollen into Max's dog biscuits to keep him healthy.
DC never tired of sharing Max with the kids, whether it was one or two on the street or at the beach, or entire classrooms.
When speaking to young students in the classroom, Max would stamp his "mark" on photos of the famous surfing couple. Coronado photographer Steve Ogles captured a perfect photograph of the two surfing in Coronado, of which 15,000 postcards were made. DC and Max were always equipped with a stack of postcards for curious children.
The simple life was what Dave Chalmers craved, and he did a pretty good job of capturing that dream up until the very end. Nothing made him happier than surfing point break waves, working in his garden, or hanging with friends.
His gardens were works of art, adorned with smatterings of flotsam and jetsam he retrieved from the beach -- lobster floats, nets, old signs, pieces of broken surfboards, and the like.
Part of a poem he wrote more than 30 years ago, called "Happy Simple Life," seems to sum up his lifestyle:
"My time is not of money, but of living and giving what I have learned in life, to those good friends of mine who have the time to listen."
David Chalmers is survived by his son Scott (and Shawna) Chalmers, two grandchildren (Tyler and Summer Chalmers), his sister Stephenie (and Tom) Garrett, and ex-wife Candy Aegerter. He is pre-deceased by parents, Raymond and Dolly Chalmers.
A paddle-out will take place Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m., between Gator Beach and Shipwrecks, near the Coronado Shores. The paddle-out will be followed by a Celebration of Life from 1-3 p.m., at Tent City Restaurant, 1100 Orange Avenue, Coronado. The family invites his many friends to participate at both events, and request that all donations be made in lieu of flowers to the San Diego Hospice (4311 Third Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103) "in memory of David Chalmers."
Dave's Obituary written by and courtesy of:
Executive Director, Coronado Historical Association
Museum of History & Art
Coronado Visitor Center
joe at coronadohistory.com
Office Phone: (619) 435-7242 x 104