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Skateboarding Pioneer Joe Lopes Remembered
(Posted 9/11/2005)

(By Chris Nichols for the California Union Democrat. Edited by Josh Rabinowitz for

San Leandro native Joe Lopes is credited with building one of the first half pipes which is now a common feature in skateparks across the globe.

He and his father, Tony, built an early wooden ramp behind their home. It became a gathering spot in the late 1970s and early 1980s for hundreds of skaters from around the world, including a young Tony Hawk.

Lopes' life ended in a vehicle crash near Farmington three years ago, but his memory lives on with his family, and friends.

Along with being a pioneer in the world of skateboard ramp construction, he was also a professional skateboarder. In addition, he was an outgoing and energetic person, family members said.

"He had a fun spirit and a very giving spirit," said Sallie Lopes, his sister. "He was quite a character. He was full of life. It wasn't past him to don a wig and skate a ramp."

Rick and Dianne Lopes, Joe's brother and sister-in-law, said he was very close with his family and as talented with his hands as he was with the skateboard.

Dianne Lopes said he could make just about anything out of wood, including animal cages for the snakes and tarantulas he caught.

"If you met Joe, he would make an impression," said Dianne Lopes.

His legacy endures in the thousands of skateboard ramps and halfpipes around the world.

This article was originally entitled "Skateboarding pioneer not forgotten by family members" and was found at story.cfm?story_no=18293

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