Pedro, a professional musician, on his way to work with guitar in hand. This photo was taken by his son, Pedro, as part of the Photo Valpo photography workshop we did with students in 2012.

When referring to the Valpo Surf Project, we frequently hear our students use the word family rather than program or class. Since our humble beginnings it has been a community that has brought families together and formed friendships that now span continents. We would like to say goodbye and honor Pedro Lopez, one of the original members of the VSP family, who passed away this October. Pedro was influential in making the VSP the family it is today.

Pedro Lopez at an early VSP surf session pictured with his sons Diego (center) and Pedro (right).

Pedro and his wife Sandra were part of the first group of parents to sign their children up for the Valpo Surf Project. They were inquisitive about a group of young foreign teachers, but excited at the opportunities the VSP might represent for their boys Diego and Pedro (then 8 and 12 years old respectively).

Pedro (kneeling, far left) with a group of VSP volunteers and students. Pedro’s white VW van, which he used to transport students and equipment for surf sessions, pictured behind them.

They were some of the most involved parents, making sure their kids made it to every swim class, surf session, and English lesson. They participated in VSP led community service projects and connected us with the municipality to help find government grants that might be available to the program. When the VSP’s first van died, we were not sure how we would keep up our weekend surf classes. Pedro stepped up and spent his weekends driving the students and equipment from the Cerro Mariposa neighborhood to the beach in his family’s old Volkswagen van. He helped us become a consistent presence in our students’ lives, a presence that has become a defining trait of the Valpo Surf Project.

Getting a few waves in one of the initial surf sessions.

Pedro and Sandra’s involvement went beyond volunteering with the program. They opened their home to the VSP staff and volunteers for Sunday dinners and holidays. Birthdays, Easter and Christmas were spent around their dinner table. We would always stay a bit longer than expected. A visit to their home was not just a simple meal, but culinary lessons, music performances (Pedro was a professional musician), informal English and Spanish lessons, and debate on almost every topic imaginable. Pedro welcomed us as members of the family and made Valparaiso feel like home.

Taking a break after surfing a bit.

Pedro’s generosity, warmth and spirit helped to shape the Valpo Surf Project in our earliest days. He will be remembered as a great father, a loving husband, an incredible friend, and a selfless devotee to the VSP. On behalf of everyone involved with VSP, thank you for everything, Pedro. We will miss you.


Henry Myer Jon Steuber Wiley Todd
Valpo Surf Project co-founders

Pedro (center, in white) with VSP students and volunteers after a neighborhood clean up in Cerro Mariposa.

Working hard at a beach clean at Playa La Boca in Con Con.

Pedro with his family and VSP volunteers, leading a lesson on making amasado bread, during one of the family dinners.