Nipomo man remembered as 'old soul surfer' dedicated to community

Nipomo man remembered as 'old soul surfer' dedicated to community

A Nipomo man who died while surfing at Pismo Beach the morning of May 15 is being remembered for his love of people and dedication to faith. 

Grant Nordwall, 54, had a heart attack while surfing north of the pier near Wadsworth Avenue with his two kids, according to his daughter, Jubilee Nordwall, who shared details of the autopsy.

Although Nordwall was physically active, the autopsy discovered a deformed artery that had gone undetected since his birth.

"He was pretty healthy and active, loved hiking and being outside," Jubilee, 29, said. "He only had so many heartbeats left." 

Jubilee described her father as an "old soul surfer" who found God among the waves. 

Born in Monterey in 1965, Nordwall moved with his family to the San Diego area, where his father was a U.S. Navy captain, and caught his first waves around the age of 13.

Nordwall graduated from Cal Poly in 1987 with a mechanical engineering degree and went to work for Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench Co., where he spent the next 30 years as an expert in his field of natural gas systems and mentored young engineers. 

Along the way, he married his high school sweetheart, Camille, in 1985 and raised seven children with her. 

In the year prior to his death, Nordwall traveled to other countries on work-related trips and made many friends abroad, according to Jubilee, adding there was no pretense with her father. 

Nordwall, who was easily approachable, also served as a positive male role model for local teenagers, according to Jubilee, who is a teacher at Orcutt Junior High School. 

"He was a dad to all of us," Jubilee said. "He wasn't weird about it. They felt safe with my dad." 

Throughout his life, Nordwall maintained his love for surfing. 

He adopted a surfer's vocabulary, using terms such as "get your stoke" and "stay frosty," and believed that saltwater was the cure for everything, Jubilee said. 

It was in the ocean that Nordwall discovered a community of surfers who shared his strong sense of faith. 

"He would pray for safety and good waves," Jubilee said. 

The Nordwall family plans to hold a memorial service on Aug. 1 at Harvest Church in Arroyo Grande, provided coronavirus restrictions are eased, followed by a paddle out at a to-be-determined beach. Inquiries regarding the service can be mailed to

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