One Last AWAY: Local Artist and Professional Skateboarder dies suddenly
Zane Timpson, poet, artist, skateboarder, took his last breath looking into the eyes of his partner, Maddy, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him on November 13, 2021. There is some comfort to his parents, Kathy Greene and Jeff Timpson that their only child did not die alone. He was 26 years old.
The cause of death was a ruptured dissection of the ascending aorta.
Born in the house his father built in Leucadia, Zane grew up spending most days since the age of 7 at the local YMCA skate park. His passion for all things skate and the discipline necessary to put in the hours of work and sacrifice, the accompanying blood, sweat and tears to land a trick or make endless film edits was evident early in his life. With an old video camera, he began filming and editing in fifth grade. He was a local phenome in a crowded field of talented skaters.
Zane was as an all-terrain skater. He skated vert, bowl, street and was also known for bombing hills. He faced his own mortality on a regular basis, carefully calculating risk and staying fully present. Transcending his skateboarding career, Zane integrated audio, visual, cinema and poetry as the lens through which he viewed the world.
Zane’s recognition began to reach far beyond Southern California to the corners of the globe before he finished middle school. Camp Woodward tapped him for its Season 3 show on FuelTV. From New Pollution reels featuring a tween Zane in his hometown and Bronson’s ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ following an adult Zane, still in his hometown but with slight
ly expanded geography to The New Yorker spotlighting ‘The Hill Bombing Skateboarders of San Francisco,’ Zane’s personality as much as his talent can be viewed through film.
But it is his words, his poetry that reveals the depth of his appetite for life, as he defined it in visceral form. For Zane everything was purposeful, every word mattered, every norm questioned.
Zane spent years developing a canon of work in which creatives of his generation, his friends –poets, painters, photographers– were published in his series of curated zines, “Old Youth.” The ultimate advocate, Zane focused more often on others’ talents rather than his own. “Humble” is a word frequently used to describe him. And a word used in verb form to describe the act of skateboarding. “If it doesn’t humble you, you aren’t doing it right.”
It is in his last body of published work, “SUFFERLOVE,” that Zane demonstrated his capacity for artistic expression at its most creative level. The mixed media publication was issued in conjunction with the release of his video pro part from his sponsor, Heroin Skateboards. From cover to cover, Zane spent hundreds of hours in the family home over the past year creating, animating, cutting, pasting, manipulating, and scanning every inch of every page. If he wasn’t doing it, he was thinking about it.
His character is defined as humble, kind, compassionate and loyal. He was also playful and silly, and naturally allowed and encouraged people to be their most authentic self. Each quality is palpable to family and friends and those whose lives he touched. The outpouring of condolences from around the world are evidence that he had a positive impact on humanity. From Zane’s sixth grade teacher, mentors, and friends to those who never met him but were inspired by his skateboarding, his family continues to receive gestures of support and love. Some are from the kids he recently taught to skate in an afterschool program, those whose skateboards he signed and some from people he considered chosen family.
Zane gave all of himself to skateboarding. But he was incredibly selfless and generous. He loved being with kids, and read to students at his old preschool when he was in his early teens, volunteered as the videographer and photographer on a journey to East Africa with a local non-profit, Kids for Peace, before high school and traveled to Ireland with his parents to explore his ancestry. Any one of these experiences would be the defining moment in a young person’s life, but Zane’s trajectory was shaped by all of them.
The 2013 San Dieguito Academy (SDA) graduate moved to San Francisco to attend school and skate. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University in 2019, with a BA in Cinema and a History minor. Although he spent many months on the road filming, Zane and his best friend, Cheyenne Bartram, managed to spend every birthday together for the last 12 years. He was indeed loyal.
The two met through their shared love of poetry in English class at SDA. When Zane asked her to write a brief bio for him to be published in one publication or another, Cheyenne wrote in part:
Zane Timpson is the TRUTH, and he really is out there- as an urgent artist, heartened community builder, and as an unfathomably unique and feverish skateboarder. Zane has spent his whole life-career as someone devoted to expression in its absolute- and is always traveling alongside the unyielding ability to dissipate all limits of the body.
Zane’s accomplishments span the breadth of his talents. He was published in every major print skateboard magazine. A prolific artist who dubbed skateboarding “a violent ballet,” he said he was more comfortable on a skateboard than walking. His pro boards were released earlier this year. The celebration of this milestone was held at Leucadia Oaks Park with his parents by his side. Fitting for a hometown kid turned pro. He and Maddy were just a few weeks into driving their built out van, “Sylvia,” on the next big “AWAY.” “Zane was happy,” Kathy said, “he was happy.”
“As he grew into adulthood, he became the man I always hoped he’d become,” Jeff said. “I’ll miss the creativity. There will be no new creations. Everything is just memories now.”
Zane is known for saying, “Never forget to tell your friends you love them.” We love you Zane Timpson. All of us. Very much. Forever.
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