Steve Issaris

Steve Issaris

Steve was born in the San Fernando Valley, grew up in Burbank, and completed his education at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Originally enrolled as a marine biology major, due to his lifelong love of the sea, computer programming caught his fancy, and he switched majors while at UCSB, completing a B.S. in Computer Science. While attending UCSB, Steve was a member of the school’s surf team. Steve began his career in 1986, working at the Pt. Mugu naval base, where he enjoyed being a member of the privileged surf club at Pt. Mugu. In 1993, he married Roberta O’Leary and had two daughters, Katie and Lily. Steve enjoyed a family life of camping, beach walks, and visits to the local parks with his daughters.

Steve was a life long surfer, who learned how to surf having to get rides to the Los Angeles area coastline from the inland San Fernando Valley, showing a repeated theme in his life: sheer determinism to achieve his desires and goals. During his school years he did well in competitive surfing, and then as a working man bought a boat so as to access the fabled surf of the Hollister Ranch. He and a small cadre of friends had many years of magnificent days of perfect surf. It was said that during these days, when his manager at work saw his office empty and dark, he knew the surf must be up. Steve enjoyed all types of surf, from the huge waves of Todos Santos Island, to long boarding out of the way spots, to boogie boarding with his little daughter. Surf trips to Baja, Mexico were integral to his enjoyment of friends and a surfing way of life.

Steve’s love for surfing and the ocean drew him towards triathlons, where he initially competed as part of a relay team. Steve ran track for a short time in high school, so combining those old skills and some biking he began racing short distance triathlons by himself in the early 90’s. Steve quickly became very competitive with the other members of his age group, where many a long term friendship was formed during these early days. As Steve’s ability grew each year he began to think about racing in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, held every October on the Big Island of Hawaii. He continued to race longer and longer races, hoping to earn one of the few qualifying slots for Hawaii, while also sending in his application for the race via its lottery system. This became an annual ritual, the sending in of the application and then waiting for the early May drawing of the names.

Steve would slip away from competing in triathlons while his family grew, then return with a vengeance. After successfully competing in his first Ironman distance race in May 2001, Steve signed up to race Ironman Utah in 2002. The winds on race day forced the cancellation of the swim and a change to the race distance. Steve did not earn an Ironman Hawaii slot that day, so he decided to do another race in Texas, a Half Ironman, to try for a slot. Steve once again did not earn a slot to the Hawaii Ironman, but instead earned a slot to the Ironman race in Lake Placid, NY, where Steve did compete and earn his well deserved slot to Hawaii. Steve went on to compete in Hawaii in October 2002, his last race. He ran across the finishing line with his oldest daughter Katie, sweeping her up into his arms in celebration. Steve’s love for his family and the sport of triathlon was never more evident then in that moment. He has left behind a legacy for all the triathlon community to follow.

Steve is survived by his wife, Roberta, and his daughters Katie, 6, and Lily, 2. His family, friends, and colleagues will miss his trustworthiness, steadiness, and love. They can be comforted knowing he had achieved his goals, and recently had exhibited a Zen-like calm and peace with life. Steve’s ashes will be spread in the Pacific Ocean in a private ceremony.

Blair Whitney and Fred Maggiore, January 17, 2003