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Fausto Vitello, Skateboard Pioneer and Thrasher Publisher, Dies At 59
(Posted 5/5/2006)

By Josh Rabinowitz for

Woodside, California -- The founding publisher of Thrasher magazine died Saturday, April 22 2006, of a heart attack while riding his bicycle.

The 59 year old entrepeneur founded Thrasher with a friend in 1981 and ran the publication from of an office at Hunters Point naval Shipyard in San Francisco.

Thrasher Magazine said that Fausto "was truly The Godfather. His integrity and impact on skateboarding and artistic counterculture was a reflection of his character, and he was a character! He was a visionary in every sense of the word."

Vitello also co-founded the Independent Truck company and the Ermico Foundry where independent trucks are manufactured. According to Vitello, the skateboard truck was essentially a refinement of a 1920's design for a roller skate truck.

According to his son, Tony, Vitello arrived in the United States from Argentina as a youngster. At the time he speaked no English and taught himself the language in part by listening to Giants games on the radio.

After meeting his future wife at San Francisco University where they both attended classes, and from where Vitello graduated with a degree in Spanish in 1971 according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Following that, Vitello worked in various jobs including running a bike shop in Golden Gate Park and being a mechanic for a Harley-Davidson racing team, finally arriving in the skateboard business. But he always kept up his collection of sports cars, motorcycles and toy race cars.

"He loved sports, but skateboarding loved him. No rules, no uniforms, no censorship", said his son, Tony.

Enduring the skateboard industry's ups and downs, Vitello stayed true to skateboarding through it all.

Craig Stecyk is a Los Angeles screenwriter, skateboard historian and longtime friend of Mr. Vitello's. "People were bailing out when he was buying in," said Stecyk of Vitello. "He saw an opportunity and he responded to the need."

Matt Ethridge, a former employee at Thrasher, said that Vitello had a unique vision in a number of ways. "The Thrasher mentality was you don't need a team, you don't need anything. It was the freedom to ride and the thrill of getting away with skateboarding in places you shouldn't. [ He ] always had the most radical, streetwise ideas about skateboarding. People dismissed it as a fad. He stuck with it."

"When corporate types tried to step, he remained independent. He did it all- publish, promote, market, and to top it off, he was a manufacturer," said his son Tony. "No made in china crap, he and his partner Eric did it all here in the ghetto of Hunter's Point, USA. This legacy will never be broken."

Vitello, or Fausto as he was known within the industry, was undoubtedly a pivotal force in history of skateboarding. As a 1994 San Francisco Bay Guardian article put it, "most industry insiders agree that Fausto Vitello - who was soon involved in companies that made wheels, boards, trucks, and clothing, as well as a magazine that promoted them all - saved the skateboarding business at a crucial point in time."

Tony heard about his father's death while skateboarding with friends.

"You don't expect anything like this. He rode his bike like crazy. He seemed to be in good shape," said his wife, Gwynn.

Vitello is survived by his wife, Gwynn, son, Tony, and daughter, Sally, all of Hillsborough. Tony and Sally are involved in the Thrasher parent company, High Speed Productions, to this day.

Services will be held privately, but a public celebration of his life is being planned for a later date in San Francisco. Instead of flowers, the family requests the donations can be made payable to "The BGCSF", indicating that it's for the "Fausto Vitello Memorial" on the memo line, to the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, Development Office, 55 Hawthorne St. #600, San Francisco, California, 94105.

Information for this article came from various newspapers and from the author's research as well as from the article "FAUSTO VITELLO - R.I.P.", found at index.php?SCREEN=article_faustoRIP

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