Notable Deaths ›

Bob Holland (1928 - 2017)

Virginian Pilot / Drew Wilson

Bob Holland (1928 - 2017)

Bob Holland, a Virginia Beach surfing legend, died Monday, June 19, 2017, in an assisted living home, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Holland, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was 88.

Holland was the first East Coast surfer to win a national title.

His son Bobby Jr. told the Pilot, “He was a great athlete in high school and played everything. And he worked hard at surfing, and all of that made him such a good surfer. He was still riding a shortboard at 84. It’s very difficult to watch what that disease does to people. He was an exceptional person and a fabulous dad.”


Click to get weekly celebrity death news delivered to your inbox.


Holland was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1928. His father was a first-generation Virginia Beach surfer. He started out on a paddleboard when he was 9.

Holland won his first United States Surfing Championship title in 1967.  He would go on to win six more U.S. surfing championships, becoming the only person in history to win the title on all three continental coasts.

The surfing legend also won 12 East Coast titles in his amateur career.

Holland is one of the main reasons that Virginia Beach is one of the surfing meccas of the East Coast. He opened the state’s first shop, Holland Surf Shop, in 1960. He would later co-found Smith and Holland Surf Shop in 1962 with fellow Virginia Beach surfer Pete Smith.

In 1963, Holland helped relocate the East Coast Surfing Championships from New York to Virginia.

“Nobody thought back then that anybody from our shore could compete,” Holland told the Virginian-Pilot in 2013. “We were good surfers, so you knew it was bound to happen.”

Holland was in the first induction class for the East Coast Surf Legends Hall of Fame in 1996.

“His pleasantry was only matched by his humility,” longtime friend and surfer Butch Maloney told the Pilot. “He was a man of great integrity. He was a role model for probably thousands of kids, and they couldn’t have had a better one.”

We invite you to share condolences for Bob Holland in our Guest Book.