Paddle out ceremony set to honor Delbert Melton

By on August 17, 2023

Local legend and surfing icon passed in March

(Photo credit: Tom Dugan for Eastern Surf Magazine)

A paddle out ceremony will be held to celebrate the life of Delbert Melton on Saturday, Sept. 16. Delbert, who passed away this year on March 15, was a local surf legend who was known for his counter-culture lifestyle and for teaching kids across the Outer Banks how to surf.

As the Voice reported when he passed, Delbert was originally from Norfolk, VA, and played college football at Chowan University from 1971 to 1973. In his sophomore year, he earned All-Coastal Conference honors, All-Region X honors, and NCJAA All-America, Second Team honors. He had his pick of many four-year universities who were interested in him. He chose North Carolina State, but an injury ended his career there before it began.

Delbert moved to the Outer Banks in simpler times when his roughneck, non-conformist attitude and personality blended right into the fabric of the sandbar. It was a time when people like him came to the Outer Banks to escape.

The quintessential surfer, he quickly became an Outer Banks staple, known for encouraging his fellow surfers, coaching the “groms,” and holding court and spreading the stoke with anyone who would listen. His passing was met with heartfelt tributes across social media from professional surfers to former kids he taught to surf.

In a Facebook post after his death, Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ben Sproul wrote of Delbert—”Man. Myth. Legend.”

The event, which is being organized by Delbert’s friends and family, will be held at the Bonnett Street beach access in Nags Head from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Facebook page announcing the event declares: “Come out and celebrate the life of a local legend. Show up at 11 a.m. for a 12 p.m. paddle out. Afterwards, crack a beer and tell a story. (PS Please use surrounding accesses for overflow parking or, if necessary, Nags Head Elementary School. Do NOT park on the grass, bike path or median like Delbert would.)” Surfers or anyone with access to a board will paddle out and create a floating circle in the water a few yards from the shore to honor the life of an OBX original.


SEE ALSO: Every beach needs a Delbert

Delbert Earle Melton


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