The coworker of a surfer whose body washed up on Swami's State Beach in Encinitas remembered his friend as a "perennial constant" and a person unlike any other he had ever met.
"It's hard to think about him in the past tense and describe him because I've never met anyone else like him," said JP St. Pierre, CEO of Surfy Surfy, the retail wing of Moonlight Glassing Surfboard Factory. "Because sometimes people will have their archetypes, but I've literally never met anyone like him, at all."
On Friday morning, a surfer who frequents the beach found the lifeless body of a fellow surfer who had washed ashore, later identified as Kenneth A . Mann, a 61-year-old Encinitas resident, by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office.
State lifeguards, Encinitas Fire Department officials and deputies from the North Coastal Sheriff's Station were alerted around 5:10 a.m. about the body found near the shoreline located at 1298 South Coast Highway 101, approximately 26 miles north of downtown San Diego.
When investigators arrived at the beach, they discovered the surfer's body covered in kelp. Near him, officials also found a broken surfboard. The sheriff's department said Mann was wearing a wet suit and was still attached to his surfboard by the leash.
St. Pierre said when he heard a body had been found at the beach, he knew he would know the person because he often joined the group of midnight surfers. When he heard his friend had been the one identified, he was shocked.
"He'd been surfing there since he was 10 years old," he told NBC7.
Mann, known to many as Kenny, graduated from a San Dieguito High School in the 70s and lived in the North County. St. Pierre described him as a a somewhat anti-social guy who was friendly and funny.
"He was definitely a kind of a throwback, quirky kind of guy, but he has a really sharp memory for people and things and events he was like a living history book of Encinitas culture," St. Pierre said. "I'm kicking myself for never just putting him in front of a camera and just having him tell stories. He could just rattle them off."
The well-loved surfer had an "old school work ethic," St. Pierre said. For the past 35 years, he worked six days a week and always showed up at the exact same time.
"For the factory guys on Monday, this will be the first time in 35 years where Kenny doesn’t show up at the exact time and get to work and do his thing, so it's going to be really difficult for everyone," he said. "I don’t even think the factory will be open tomorrow, unless that’s kind of cathartic for some people that work there."
St. Pierre and Mann shared a wall at the factory. Kenny would sand the surfboards once they were glassed, essentially reshaping them by hand.
"He was really, really good," St. Pierre said. "I mean, he was really good."
Mann was one of the founding members of surfboad factory, a master sander memorialized in the Surfy Surfy logo.
Mann sanded an estimated 100,000 surfboards in his career.
"People are going to keep riding the boards he worked on for another decade at least," St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre said he would always say he had it good because by the time the boards came to him, they were already in such good shape.
At work and around, Mann was known for walking by and quoting movies to people. He always had an anecdote to tell people about, always had a story to tell. "Everyone loved him," St. Pierre said.
"The thing you gotta remember about Kenny is he would always go, 'Hey this one time, in the 70s,' and he would just tell you this story," he said. "They weren’t like large sweeping stories, they were little anecdotes."
The medical examiner has not yet determined Mann's cause and manner of death.
Friends say they are planning to have a paddle out in Kenny Mann's memory in the coming weeks.