Natalie Kotsch, who founded the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum but never rode a wave, has died.
Kotsch succumbed Thursday to a decade-long battle with cancer. She was 76.
Though she never surfed herself, she deeply loved the sport and its culture.
"I told the guys that are planning to do a paddle-out for her that her second time in the Pacific Ocean, she put her foot in it once and didn't like it," said Julie Holson, Kotsch's youngest daughter. "But she just liked the surf culture. She thought it was an amazing culture and didn't want to see it lost."
Kotsch moved with her family in 1976 from Simcoe, Canada, to Huntington Beach, where she worked as a real estate agent.
Longtime friend and museum director Cindy Cross said it took an outsider to make Surf City realize that its hometown sport should be celebrated.
"She just worked tirelessly on this museum for over 20 years," Cross said. "When she was diagnosed with cancer, her involvement was a little less, but she was still very much a part of the museum and major decisions."