The founderHuntington Beach International Surfing Museum, of one of several California surfing museums, Natalie Kotsch, passed away on Feb. 20, 2014, surrounded by friends and smiling to the end. Photos include Natalie with famed board shaper Duane Gordie, Surfing Padre Father Christian, Dean Torrence (of Jan & Dean, ) King of Surf Guitar Dick Dale, and surfing historian Bruce Gabrielson.
Kotsch came to California in 1976 from Canada after seeing brochures and deciding it looked like a wonderful place to be. She settled in Huntington Beach where she fell in love with surfing culture and decided the town needed a museum to honor the local heritage which was disappearing building by building. At one time the city had a Surf Theater, Golden Bear and affordable apartments for surfers directly across the street from the Huntington Beach Pier.
Natalie Kotsch didn't help just one city and its localized surf community collect and save mementos from its past. In establishing the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum she provided a gathering spot for surfers from around the globe to connect. The museum's Surfin' Sundays concerts brought out the world's best musicians of a genre who performed their hits virtually for free. Even though Natalie, who worked as a Realtor and co-founder of Pier Realty, sold houses and could be a tough negotiator for her clients, her heart was in the right place helping others. She always smiled, hugged others and had kind words to say. It was impossible not to be attracted to her positive outlook, her caring attitude and charisma. She made friends with surfers from around the world, though she never surfed.
In 2013 Natalie Kotsch received the Key to the City of Huntington Beach. It was a well-deserved tribute to a person who gave freely of her time to promote the tourism destination as a surfing destination.
Natalie Kotsch valiantly fought cancer for several years, and passed away at the age of 75. Many thought she wouldn't make it through cancer treatments but she fought and bounced back several times. She loved life and didn't give up, smiling throughout the tough times. Those who were with her at the end said that she smiled even as her candle burned out. We pay homage to this classy lady who will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.