SMC — Former Mayor Nat Trives, known around town as “Mr. Santa Monica,” and world champion surfer and expert on coral reefs Dr. Richard Grigg will receive the 2009 SMC Alumni Recognition Award from the Santa Monica College Foundation.
Both will be recognized at commencement, which will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 at SMC’s Corsair Field.
Grigg receives the award for Outstanding Professional Achievement and Trives is being honored for Distinguished Community Service.
Grigg, University of Hawaii emeritus professor of oceanography, says that it was a zoology professor he had when he attended SMC in the mid-1950s who helped him change his life and make him believe he could be something more than just being a surf bum.
That teacher, Max Silvernale, was right to have faith in his student, who went on to get a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, a master’s from the University of Hawaii and a Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
That was followed by a distinguished career that included 36 years as a University of Hawaii researcher, the publication of three books and more than 100 scientific articles in international journals, a five-year stint as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Coral Reefs, and recognition as a world-renowned expert on precious corals. A common species of Hawaiian black coral named for a Mediterranean species more than 200 years ago has been renamed for Dr. Grigg (previously identified as Antipathes dichotoma, it is now Antipathes griggi).
At the same time, he never lost his passion for surfing. As Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle sports writer said in the foreword to Grigg’s book, “Big Surf, Deep Dives and the Islands”: “Most of us are lucky to be known for a single moment or accomplishment, perhaps a body of work. Grigg is an institution in separate worlds (oceanography and surfing), and he will be remembered not as one person, but two.”
A surfer since he was 9, Grigg has spent virtually his entire life taking on large waves all over the world — and continues to do so today, at the age of 72. Winner of the 1967 World Surfing Championship in Hawaii, he has developed a philosophy of life that has been shaped as much by riding the waves as tireless scientific research.
Grigg, who retired from the University of Hawaii in 2003, is married to Maria Imelda Grigg and between them they have three children and one grandson. They live in Honolulu.
Trives, who attended Santa Monica College in the early 1950s, has become known as a natural-born leader and barrier buster. The first African American class president of student government, Trives would go on to become the first black Santa Monica police sergeant and Santa Monica mayor.
But just as significantly, Trives would go on to a multi-faceted career in public service and a record of community service that has earned him the nickname “Mr. Santa Monica.”
After receiving an Associate of Arts degree in criminal justice from what was then known as Santa Monica City College in 1954, Trives earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University at Los Angeles and a master’s of public administration from UCLA.
That launched him into several careers in law enforcement, teaching (at Cal State L.A.) and higher education administration, including a stint as SMC’s deputy superintendent of government relations from 1990 until his retirement in 1997.
As impressive as his professional career was, it has been exceeded by five decades of volunteer commitments with scores of national, state and local organizations, including the National Urban League, National Conference of Community and Justice, Rotary Club, Santa Monica Family YMCA, Santa Monica Historical Society Museum and many more.
In education, he has served with several SMC organizations and is the founding board president and chair of the board of the New Visions Foundation and New Roads School. He is also a member and past president of the Santa Monica Gems, a scholarship organization providing thousands of dollars to black students attending Santa Monica area schools and SMC.
Trives and his wife have one child, Dr. Toni Trives, who teaches Spanish at SMC and is the chair of the college’s Modern Language Department.