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Entries in Jon Mozo (1)


What we leave behind

jonmozo.jpgA friend of mine died more than a year ago. His name was Jon Mozo. He was a prolific ocean photographer who died off the famed Banzai Pipeline last February. Jon was 33. He left behind a wife and four young children.

I first met Jon ten years ago. He was an aspiring shooter––a local boy who spent time pounding the pavements of NYC and finally decided to plant his roots back in Hawaii.

I was a freshman creative director of an ad agency in Honolulu, and was fortunate enough to work with Jon on a few of his first commercial gigs. His talent was obvious. But his character, it was magical. My wife would describe him as a "glowie"—someone that radiated happiness, yet was so humble and soft-spoken.

It was no surprise that 1,500 people attended Jon’s funeral.

Years ago, I sat with Jon on a grassy Molokai cliff, eating lunch, taking a break from a 3-day shoot. We talked about our kids. We both had three at the time, all very young, both of us crammed into little condo apartments with our young families. Jon offered to watch our kids the next time we were in town, even though at the time, he and his family lived in a tiny two-room apartment. Jon loved kids. He called them his retirement. "When I’m old, that’s the only thing that will matter to me, my family," were his words.

When Jon died, I had a hard time getting my brain around it. He was too young. Left too much behind. But I found solace in his wife’s words: "If he had a list of dreams, I think they'd all be checked off," she said. "I don't think he had any regrets. I feel like he was ready. He knew it was coming and it was ok."

And you know, I believe her now.

Today I received an invitation to a benefit for the Jon Mozo Legacy Foundation at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu. Proceeds will go toward building a youth center in Hauula, college scholarships, and cultural exchanges.

As Memorial Day approaches, Jon’s death is starting to make sense. Among Hawaii’s traditional gods are some modern legends. Eddie Aikau. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. I’m happy to see Jon live on in such good company.