Famed surf photographer remembered as 'beautiful soul'

Famed surf photographer Jeff Mana Walthall dies
Published: Oct. 14, 2015 at 2:12 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 15, 2015 at 3:06 AM HST
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MAKAHA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends and family gathered at Makaha Beach on Wednesday to honor well-known surf photographer Jeff Mana Walthall, who died in the water he loved.

"Mana is going to be remembered through his photographs forever," said Brian Keaulana, a close family friend and experienced waterman and surfer. "Just by looking at the things that he captured you know, whether it's the environment or the culture or the community, he'll live on forever for us,"

Walthall, 48, was found unresponsive Tuesday afternoon at Makaha Beach and later died.

Friends and relatives say Walthall touched many lives around the world.

From Australia to Tahiti to home in Makaha, condolences have poured in for the photographer and surfer who friends say embodied aloha.

"It's a huge loss for this community. He was a solid brother and just an amazing person -- just a beautiful soul," said Kamakani Froiseth, a friend and lifeguard at Makaha Beach.

"The way he sees things and he just supported the surfing community and especially the west side. He was able to just come and give us all his aloha."

Those who knew him also said Walthall died doing what he loved.

"Everybody has heavy hearts right now, but Mana lived the life he wanted to live," said Keaulana, who with Walthall in the water on the day he died.

Walthall had reportedly been surfing and taking photos at Makaha Beach on Tuesday afternoon, when he became unresponsive in the water. An exact cause of death is still unknown.

Walthall's friends say he was a talented photographer who loved giving back to his Makaha community.

"He lived a selfless life. He was a photographer that went out of his way to make everyone else look good," said Anthony Debutiaco, a friend of Walthall's for more than 20 years. "He was very consistent about his aloha and his love and I want people to remember that about him."

Russ "Rusty" Keaulana, a champion longboard surfer, added, "I'm going to miss him. He was an awesome guy."

A memorial for Walthall will be held at Makaha Beach on Oct. 24 at 7 a.m., with a paddle-out scheduled around noon.

Family members are inviting anyone who knew Walthall or appreciated his work to attend.

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