RIP Ken “Rooster” Roose, A Gulf Coast Legend
The Saltyhumans along with many others are saddened by passing of one of the Gulf Coast surfing pioneers Ken “Rooster” Roose. On September 19, 2017 Ken passed away due to melanoma in the brain. Rooster was an inspiration and will be remembered by many. Our thoughts are with the Roose family.
Photo by Lisa Traweek
In March of 1965, Rooster began surfing with his brother Charlie Roose and friend Skip Tanner. Ken’s inspiration to surf came from surfers such as John Russel, Tom Grow, and Scott Bush. He purchased his first board from Hutson’s Surf Shop for $110. The board was a 10ft longboard with a pintail weighing 36 pounds. On that same year on the steps of AV Clubbs Jr High School, Ken introduced Yancy Spencer to surfing by showing him an issue of Surfing Magazine. Yancy showed up that next week on the beach to borrow Ken’s board and was hooked.
“This photo was taken in 1971ish. The board is a Greg Noll Seeker – Yancy III’s model. I think this was taken behind Greg Noll Surf Shop in Gulf Breeze. There were a few abandoned motel cottages behind the shop. This was probably one of them.
In my mind, this is a great photo. It perfectly captures an era of fairly early Pensacola surfing.” – Tom Hutson
From left to right: Kendall Rooster, David Lynch, Yancy Spencer and Gerry Blanck.
Ken later went on to open a surf shop with the help of his friend Skip Savage. The shop was named the Greg Noll Surf Shop located in Gulf Breeze. This was an extension of Skip’s surf shop located in Delaware. In 1971 Skip gave the shop to Ken making him the owner/manager of the smallest surf shop in Florida at the age of 21 years old. The name later changed to New Era Surf Shop. About a year after being given the shop, Ken decided he wanted to continue his degree in art education from UWF and sold the shop to Yancy Spencer for $250, which became Innerlight Surf Shop.
“The first Innerlight Surf Shop, before it was called Innerlight. It was originally Greg Noll Surf Shop, then New Era Surf Shop, and finally Innerlight Surf Shop. The rent was $50 a month. It was so small that it held a handful of new boards inside, and used boards were displayed outside – on the opposite side of the building that is displayed here. The board facing the window looks like it was a 5 ft. something, Blue Cheer twin fin. Yancy was riding them at the time, around ’71/’72, so of course most everyone else in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola was too. At least everyone in my little world. Yancy had a great knack for promoting surf stuff.” – Tom Hutson
The photo was taken from the southeast side looking toward the northwest.
Winter of 1969, Ken Roose surfing the outside bar at Pensacola Pier. Photo Skip Savage
In the mid 70s, Ken surfed competitively in the ESA, GCSA, and WSA representing shops such as San Diego Surf Shop, Innerlight Surf Shop, and Waterboyz Surf Shop. Ken went on to design a longboard specifically for gulf coast surf. He worked along side with shapers Hank Warner, Steve Forstall, and Rick Buhams. The design would later become the Rooster model, first being shaped by Rick Buhams and sponsored by Innerlight. Ken’s sponsorship and board model later shifted to Waterboyz where the Rooster model was co-designed and shaped by Rick Bullock. Ken had the model shaped by Central Florida shapers Ricky Carrol and Erie Peeples, but the model ultimately fell back into the hands of Rick Bullock and Sean Fell at Waterboyz.
“We shared so many waves together I have one of the few Rooster models. I rode it today in his honor -hefty hurricane swell! A dream!” – Suzanne Gibson
Ken Roose was a man of many skills. He repaired surfboards on the side from 1966 to 2010 fixing around thirteen thousand boards for Greg Noll, Innerlight, Waterboyz, and local surfers.
“I’ve known Kendall since 1973. I once crossed paths with him in San Diego, California in the 1990’s where we surfed epic waves. It was alway great to see Rachel and Kendall camped in the shade of Navarre Pier…a sign the waves were firing!! My heart is especially heavy for Rachel, Kendall’s family and friends.Peace be with you. Surf forever Kendall. ” – Lisa Wakley
“Rooster welcomed me into the Navarre Pier lineup which kept me around for Autism Surfs then Special Olympics. He’s not doing too well and I wanted to express my gratitude and respect for a life well lived. I thought I’d share a couple pictures of Kendall passing on the Surf Stoke at Special Olympics!” -Michael Stone
“To those that knew him, we lost an absolute legend tonight. One of my dads friend since the 60’s and they were pioneers of gulf coast surfing. He was our surf uncle/mentor and local ding repair man for decades. His contribution to the local surf scene and overall outlook on life will never be forgotten. Give my dad a big hug for me. I know my dad and Yancy are waiting at a point break for you. They gained an a awesome wingman. RIP Rooster.” – Ryan Russel
Photo John Russel
“We lost another amazing dude today. I’m heartbroken. Ken was one of the first people I ever met surfing. My first longboard was a Rooster model. He was always good to me. He always had a nice word for me in the water. I’m gonna miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. I can’t even begin to feel what they do. Much love Chad Roose” – Cathy Harding
Photo Charlene Dove
“Tuff watching your hero’s fade. I grew up the runt of the litter, a decade behind, getting my ass kicked by Rooster, Yancy, Robin, and Sir Charles. Made me the waterman I am today. Mighty Rooster has soldered his legacy in Gulf Coast surfing, and in the hearts of us all. A controversial chatacter, as are most of us alpha males, he not only played but mastered the game well. Rooster ripped! He is and will always be a hero, uncle, friend, and that guy on the beach about to paddle out so u know u gotta get your A game on quick cause your wave counts about to go down bro. Time to turn up the steam… here comes da Rooster!” – Joey Dillard
For more info on Ken’s life visit FloridaSurfMusem.org