Black and white photo of William W. Deardorff III riding a surfboard.
William W. Deardorff III

On July 9, 2023 we lost our brother William “Billy” Winston Deardorff III’s kind and sensitive soul to a seemingly lifelong battle with mental illness and substance abuse.

Billy was born Oct. 24, 1966 in Ventura to William W. Deardorff Jr. and Patricia N. Deardorff, both now deceased.

He is survived by his older brothers Scott T. Deardorff, his wife Leslie and their children Briggs and Emma; and Jamie D. Deardorff, his wife Susan and their children Dustin and Ella.

The family started out in Oxnard, California, then moved to Carpinteria in 1976. Our house was close to the beach, and we quickly took up surfing at Serena Cove.

Billy was only 10, but he caught on quickly by spending lots of time in the water. He was the youngest in the lineup and the most passionate.

After a few years at Serena, we moved to a house on Rincon Point, and this is where Billy really started to hone his surfing skills and style. Our house quickly became the Rincon hangout spot to store your board and wetsuit, and raid the kitchen after a long surf session.

The garage was a glassing room/repair shop, and the side yard always had a great selection of surfboards and wetsuits.

In the early 1980s Rincon was the epicenter of an up-and-coming crowd of great surfers and new board designs with Tommy Curren and Al Merrick leading the charge.

Billy learned from the best, and he was sometimes mistaken for Tommy Curren by the local photographers. (Especially when he “borrowed” Tommy’s wetsuit from the pile.)

Scott and Jamie would say that Billy was smarter than the two of them put together, but his struggles began at the end of his high school years.

Billy dodged in and out of various schools and eventually dropped out of school. From then on, Billy’s struggles with substance abuse and mental illness kept him doing odd jobs and in and out of various sober living programs. He had many successes and setbacks but eventually he succumbed to his addiction.

Billy was a very loving and caring person, always willing to help others with their struggles. He especially loved his nieces and nephews Dustin, Ella, Briggs and Emma. They very much enjoyed each other’s company.

A couple of years ago, all nine of us went up to Mammoth for a family ski trip. Billy hadn’t been on the snow in many years, and we were all thrilled to share chairs and trails with Billy and talk about many past ski trips with our parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Although not every day was a good day, we shared many good days, and it was wonderful to share stories of the “good old days” with Billy and our kids.

We know Billy has gone on to a better place now, and is with his parents and other family and friends he’s lost along the way. Billy will forever be in our hearts, and his memories will be in every wave we surf, sail, foil or paddle.

We’ll be honoring Billy’s life with a paddle out in the cove at Rincon Point at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30.