Life and Death

Marilyn Tam
5 min readMar 6, 2024

How to live so that you die with less regrets.

Man in a wetsuit holding a surf board in front of the ocean on a sunny day
Mayor Bill Brand after a surf session. Photo courtesy the City of Redondo Beach

During his flight to a mayoral conference in Mexico, Bill had a seizure. Bill Brand, mayor of Redondo Beach, avid surfer, runner, long distance swimmer and nonsmoker, found out that he had 4th stage lung cancer that has spread to his brain and neck. How he lived the next four and a half years, and actually his entire life, shows it’s not how long you live, but how you live.

Bill always followed his own inner guidance. He graduated with a chemical engineering degree, and then found out that he didn’t like working on extracting fossil fuels for a large corporation. He went back to school and got an MBA from USC. However, to utilize his education he was required to move to Dallas to work at the American Airlines headquarters, away from his beloved ocean and Redondo Beach. He chose to stay and continue to work at AA LAX, close to Redondo Beach, instead of telling the people what to do from above and afar.

He was one of the pioneers who forged the surfers’ bucket list. He surfed all the now legendary surf spots, Indonesia, South Africa, Spain, France, Ireland, Mexico, Barbados, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, and New Zealand before they were known. Along the way he found his related passion, to help people and nature flourish together. He dove into citizen activism and politics like he did surfing, with pinpoint focus and by defying daunting odds, to create green space for his community against well-funded, vindictive, and powerful large developers.

When he was confronted with a short timetable of six months to a maximum of five years to live, Bill approached it as he did everything else, with energy, focus and purpose. He sped up instead of slowing down on his efforts to decommission Redondo’s antiquated 25 acres wide waterfront powerplant and to build a park for the community in its place. The powerplant was sitting on what was a salt lake and wetlands, his dream was to return it back to its natural state. It would be a wonderful resource for the community and useful for flood control. He had been working on this project since 2008, and Bill was determined to achieve this audacious goal before he died. On New Year’s Eve 2023, Bill, his longtime partner in service, Jim Light, and various governmental leaders were present when he and City…

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Marilyn Tam

Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike