Our deepest condolences to the Tsushima family. Georgie, you will be dearly missed and remembered by your Stereo teammates, your friends, and your skateboarding brothers you created all over the world. Rest in peace, brother... - Jason Lee and Chris Pastras
Music: "Long Fall" by Georgie Tsushima (2015)
Visit Georgie's Channel for more of his creative projects https://www.youtube.com/user/Gman123/videos
Continuing Georgie's Dream - Donate to help towards Georgie’s memorial, arrangements, and funding to keep FLC Skateshop running.
Georgie Tsushima with the Stereo team at Woodward West (2014) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_l4eI-L8gk&feature=youtu.be
Georgie in "Stereophonic Sound: Volume 25" (2015) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A381gSDGVx8
Georgie in "Stereophonic Sound: Volume 20" (2014)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuXbipoxdwU
Georgie in "Stereophonic Sound: Volume 18" (2014)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NzM0EWkLEs
Georgie's Full Part - Ride Channel (2013) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yITEKJ7GUZE
An Article on Georgie by the Ames Tribune - http://amestrib.com/news/community-reflects-life-skateboarder-georgie-tsushima
Community reflects on life of skateboarder Georgie Tsushima
As Georgie Tsushima prepared FLC Skateshop for its opening day last week in Campustown, he was visited by Suhaib Tawil, who runs the Facebook page Humans of Ames — a take-off on the popular Humans of New York page that profiles denizens of the Big Apple.
In the ensuing 13-minute conversation, Tsushima talked about the highs and lows of his skateboarding career, to dispel a stereotype that skaters are boozy drug abusers, and to share his shop’s business philosophy.
“Whenever people are in here, we’re going to be kind to them and reflect the good side and kind of surprise people, maybe change their perspective,” he told Tawil.
Last Saturday, Tsushima opened FLC Skateshop (an acronym for his Flat Land Crew of former Ames High School skaters). It was the day after Tawil’s visit and after several more days of Tsushima’s characteristically persistent work, preparing the shop on little sleep. The next day, his lifeless body was found in his house.
A 26-year-old AHS alum, Tsushima was first handed a skateboard in the eighth grade, the school year before his family moved from Pullman, Wash., to Ames.
In 2006, when he was a senior at AHS, he started the downtown business Focus Skateshop, later re-opening it on Welch Avenue in between moves to and from California.
As he opened FLC Skateshop Saturday, something felt off, an exhausted Tsushima told Nick Muhlbauer, a longtime friend and former roommate of his in Ames who gave him a ride home that evening.
At the shop, he explained, he was setting up a skateboard — a task that was second nature to him — when he suddenly became overwhelmed and froze up before snapping himself out of it.
Muhlbauer witnessed a similar situation later outside the house as Tsushima reached for his keys and then paused for a moment before unlocking the door.
“I just feel like he had a lot on his mind,” Muhlbauer said. “I don’t know what.”
Tsushima’s body was found Sunday morning after his mother, Teresa Downing-Matibag, became concerned because he wasn’t responding to her messages.
Ames police are waiting for the results of an autopsy report but said Tsushima’s death appeared to be a “medical issue.” Some of his friends suspected it was related to a serious head injury he suffered last year while skateboarding.
In 2012, Tsushima found himself back in California, in the South Coast city of Oceanside. He got a job as a videographer for Vox Footwear, shooting promotional footage featuring professional skaters.
His own skateboarding career was taking off, too. In 2014, Stereo Skateboards selected him to be on its team on an amateur sponsorship.
“The more we skated together, the more I realized he was an amazing skateboarder that was disguised as a skateboard filmer,” said Jordan Hoffart, a professional skater on the team. “I realized he was pretty much as good as I was.”
On Aug. 15, 2014, the legendary Z-Boys skateboarder Jay Adams died of a heart attack, and Tsushima persuaded his roommate, Bryce Hudson, to go to a park in Carlsbad, California, to skate in his memory.
Tsushima was practicing a trick called the backside air in a deep empty pool when he lost his footing on the landing, falling on his head and suffering a life-threatening brain injury just a week after joining the Stereo team.
About two months after the accident, Tsushima returned to Ames to live with his mother and stepfather, Gene Matibag, continuing his recovery at the On With Life brain rehabilitation center in Ankeny.
When he first came home, Tsushima couldn’t speak. His memory failed him and the right side of his face was paralyzed.
But he fought, exercising and studying language for hours beyond his therapy sessions and practicing facial exercises religiously to regain his ability to smile.
“All of his friends, everyone knew that he was going to get on a skateboard whether we liked it or not,” said Mariay Tsushima, Georgie’s 20-year-old sister, who flew in from California to be with the family.
And he did, until a fractured ankle from a recent skateboarding mishap sidelined him.
“If you could tell a group of skaters — young skaters, 13, 14 — something, anything, what would you tell them?” Tawil, of the Humans of Ames page, asked Tsushima.
“It’s like a habit that you can’t not do,” Tsushima replied.
Tsushima’s advice to young skaters wasn’t hypothetical. He would often teach them new skills at skate parks, sometimes developing lasting relationships in the process.
“He was a lot deeper than skateboarding,” said Gauge Sletten, 15, standing near a memorial to Tsushima affixed to a rail at the Ames skate park Thursday evening.
“He would help me with school when I would struggle. … He posed like a brother I didn’t really have, a role model to look up to as a kid. He really taught me to just be myself and just be genuinely kind to people.”
Sletten met Tsushima 10 years ago through his mother, Sonja Scigliano, who runs the Studio X hair salon in Campustown. Before her business moved to Chamberlain Street, it was located where FLC Skateshop is now at 2522 Lincoln Way.
When Tsushima still ran Focus Skateshop, he would advertise at Studio X, mounting skateboard decks on the walls. For a time, he dated Scigliano’s daughter, Kassi.
Occasionally, he would tell Scigliano that, if her business ever changed locations, he wanted her space.
Over a haircut in early June, she told him it would soon be vacant.
Now, a memorial of photographs, flowers, candles and sidewalk chalk messages is sprawled across the storefront in remembrance of the man Scigliano described as a “sweet soul,” “bashful but confident,” with a “smile that could brighten the darkest day.”
The skate shop is closed until further notice, but already friends and family have discussed how they can keep it going.
“We have a lot of really trustworthy people here, people who are really committed to Georgie and getting his shop open,” said Jyoshu Tsushima, Georgie’s 27-year-old brother, who drove to Ames from Ohio after his brother’s death.
The shop already made enough money before it officially opened to pay the first month’s rent, an accomplishment helped by the many volunteers who joined Tsushima in setting up shop, drawn in by his positive attitude and love for skateboarding.
“He told me, I remember one day,” Downing-Matibag recalled. “‘Mom,’ he said, ‘I really want you to listen to me: It is so important that you follow your passion in your life.’”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s skateboarding or not,” Tsushima told Tawil.
“If you have something that you absolutely love to do and you use that, as almost like an escape path, to get away from everything and make up for it in a positive way — that’s what skateboarding means to me.”