You might never know that the easygoing man who lived quietly, albeit on the fringe in his van in a Seal Beach alley. was famous for being a pioneer of modern skateboarding.“You can call me ‘Waldo,’” he would say to people he met on his walks around town when he wasn’t busy working as a hairdresser in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.
Don “Waldo” Autry, was a well-known skateboarder and high speed motorcycle rider in his day and was the subject of many skateboarding magazine articles and made a few film appearances showing off his high risk talents.Autry, who friends said had been missing for about three days, was found dead last Wednesday in his van in Seal Beach. He was 55. The Orange County Coroner’s Office has not released an official cause of death to the Sun.
Autry’s death came before he was to be seen in a skateboarding film (“The Signal Speed Run”) being shown on the Cal State Long Beach campus’ Walter Pyramid on Sunday.Autry had competed in the first major skateboarding event in the 1970s on Catalina Island. He had said he had wanted to compete in the new versions of the event that took place last year on the island. He said he felt up to the challenge, but he did not have the time to pursue the training or logistics of getting to the event.
Autry grew up in North Long Beach and honed his skateboarding skills riding his board for hours on end along the Los Angeles River bed.Friends said that Autry’s daring stunts inspired a generation of skateboarders who went on to fame and more fortune than he was able to see from the sport.Friends described Autry as a fearless, happy go lucky guy who made friends easily.Memorial services are pending.