Skate Shoe Designer Sinisa Egelja Dies

by The Editors on October 26, 2009

Picture 3-4We got word this morning that Sinisa Egelja, the creative mind behind the emergence of the Airwalk skateboarding footwear brand, has died.

Sin, who was always eccentric, had one of the most creative minds in skateboarding. His footwear designs, which seemed delivered from the future, where endlessly boosted, ripped off, and appropriated by employers, competitors, and corporations. That coupled with personal troubles, made things extremely difficult for Sin, and for his family and friends during the past few years.

The last time we spoke Sin was especially hyped on his interview in Sneaker Freaker #10. The magazine, which came out in the summer of 2007, had finally given Sin the opportunity to tell the Airwalk story from his point of view (click the link to download the PDF). It was going to set the record straight once and for all. Sin believed the story would help put his career back into forward motion. Read it, and you’ll understand why. But things didn’t exactly go the way Sin had hoped and his life continued to be plagued with difficulty.

Our thoughts are with Sin’s family and friends who did so much for him over the past few years. Sadly, we don’t have any more details on his death. As soon as we get them, we’ll pass them along.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Dylan Baker October 26, 2009 at 10:42 am

For those of us who knew Sin, and I knew him well, we have to go back to the times when he was in fact Sin, the creative genius, the comsumate comedian, and the true friend. In the past few years, I did everything in my power to help him once again succeed. At times, he was on track and looked to be on to something great once again. We will all miss him dearly. My sincerest thoughts go out to his daughter. We all have so many great stories we can share with her.

Sin, I love you as a brother, as many of us do. You will be forever missed.

Dylan Baker

Carl October 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Sin was truly one of the most unique and funny people I’ve ever met. It’s weird thinking of the world without him in it somewhere. He is missed, no doubt about it. Travel well, brother.

Todd Finney October 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Sin had a heart of gold. I was fortunate enough to work with him during certainly the best years of his career, which may or may not have been the best of his life, and I saw the good (maybe the best) and the bad. He could be infuriating, but mostly he was one hell of a lot of fun to be around.

I met him and Brad when they first came to the States, well before I worked with him, and we always had fun messing with each other. He was a loving and emotional guy, and to say he had a unique view of the world is an understatement. Whether we were jumping on the trampoline in his living room, night-snowboarding in Pennsylvania, or playing pool in Korea (Sin would get progressively COVERED in chalk), we would always end up laughing our asses off.

The truth is I’ve been missing him for many years now.

Stella, your dad had some faults, but he was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known, and you can always be very proud about that.

I will always miss you, Sin.
Todd Finney

Spidey De Montrond October 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I met Sin before Airwalk and at the start of it. Always a good friend and great laughs in those pioneering times.

Blessing and Peace to his family

Miss you,

Estes October 26, 2009 at 12:55 pm

This is another truly sad day. Sin gave me a huge oppurtunity at Airwalk, I was just ‘some kid’ snowboarding and his influence on my life and career where timeless. I remember a phone call from Sin one afternoon, he knew exactly by the sound of my voice what I was doing and he gave me a lecture that I will hold in my heart forever.

Sin, even though your not with us anymore- I’ve said ‘Thank You’ to your face (the one time you attended ASR) and in emails, I know you read them- but for the record- without your guidence and influence- I would have never made it in this industry. I’ve been inspired by you in more ways than one. Thank You.

Its was even a bigger honor that I earned an Airwalk ad, your photo, as I always dreamed of shooting images with you. You will be dearly missed but never forgotten.

My loving thoughts to your family. Rest In Peace Sin, you deserve it.

Whis guy October 26, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Now who is going back up our story of the record time from Whistler Village to the Vancouver International Airport. Sin rolls into the Snoboard Shop at high noon with the question… Hey How long does it take to get to the airport. One hour later he was at the airport.

Thanks for the good times, I think of you every time I go to Japan and see all the crazy toys.

Lew October 26, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Action sports would not be the same without Sin’s contributions and charisma. He had a profound impact on my life and I’ll always be grateful.

Peace love and Airwalk, Sin.


tr October 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

sin was always a fun guy to hang with. i will miss my random tradeshow encounters with his royal weirdness. rip sin, your one of the best

Johnny Almeida October 26, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Terrible news. I have progressively missed Sin’s storys over the last decade. He always had this look in his eye’s like you better look behind you…quick.

I lost touch with Sin many years ago….and every once in awhile I would see a pair of Airwalks and would think about Him, Lee Smith, Todd, Tim, the Altoonoids, and many wonderful times.

Godspeed Sin.


LennyH October 26, 2009 at 1:40 pm

A true friend and someone I will miss dearly.

Tim Swart October 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

We had a lot of fun over the years. I lived with him and Dan Sturt for a summer. That was a long summer. One time I came out of the shower to find Sin standing there smirking at me, shirtless, with TIM shaved in his chest hair. Thanks for the fun. My condolences to his family and Stella…

Katie Becker October 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Sinna Min, Sin Der Block, Sin Derella….. I am sitting here crying and yet smiling at all the fun (and serious) times we had. Every time Sin would say, “do you know what I mean”, I did actually know what he meant. Scary, but we could talk for hours and hours about pretty much nothing, but it all seemed to make sense. I loved him for his sense of humor, his creative mind and his ability to just be ‘Sin’ when he didn’t have to put on a show for anyone.

To my god child… know that your dad loved you very much…

Malik Wagenseil October 26, 2009 at 3:06 pm

My wife worked with Sin in PA,
I will never forget him…

Tod Swank October 26, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Sin was a cool dude. Had some great times with him. He was funny. A big heart.

You have to enjoy everyday to the fullest. Love your family and friends. Have a good time.

Life is precious.

Condolences and best wishes from everyone at Tum Yeto to Sin’s family and friends.


Pep Williams October 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I’ll always remember the good times and laughs. I’ll miss you brother.


Falza October 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Warmest, most creative guy ever. I have yet to meet with as many ideas as he had.
He always cared about everyone more than himself.
For sure, Stella-he loved you so much.

Daniel Harold Sturt III October 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

“He sure was fun while he lasted,……….but, like most good things in life,………they don’t last long”.

Grant Brittain October 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Sin was one of the most unique people I have ever known. I met him in the early 80s when he first came over with Brad Shaw from Australia and I was just starting to work for TW. I already knew all about him through his friend, David Mock, another visiting Australian I befriended earlier. David lived in his Plymouth Duster in the Del Mar Skate Ranch parking lot while I slept on the pool table in the skate shop. David would show me photos of his friend, Sin and tell me funny stories about him. When Sin came over to DMSR, I felt like I already knew him and he fit right into the local skate crowd and became a fixture. He stayed for the next 20 something years. After a couple of years, I was living in my friend, Cynthia’s house and she rented Sin a room. He put in metal industrial shelving, but made it like a maze so you had to crawl in and over to enter the room. Sin was unpredictable and a barrel of laughs, never a dull moment with him. He had a huge heart and was always ready to entertain his friends. In 1985, he took me to the airport, I was going on my first trip to Europe and I left him at the gate crying. Now he has me crying, I will miss you my friend.

babs October 26, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Sin was one of a kind, the fifth element in every way shape and form. A patriot of one and a friend to all. I was blessed to witness Sin’s imagination and ideas come to life (except for sumo technology). I miss you Sin…my heart goes out to your friends and family. stay gold

Cec Annett October 26, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Sin was truly an amazing person and one of my best friends. I feel very fortunate to have worked with Sin for several of the glory years at Airwalk. We had so many great times and non stop laughs – and the odd screaming match during design reviews! Our relationship continued to grow after Airwalk when he showed up at my front door one day wearing pajamas and smoking a corn cobb pipe asking to move in. Sin did move in and really became a part of our family. Sin was truly loved, but often misunderstood. He was a creative genius with a limited ability to express his true talents. How many people would canvas ASR looking for work and when asked for a business card would hand out a wrench or hammer with his name and phone number engraved on it.

Sin and I shared many experiences…vacationing in Miami and convincing our wife’s that we should indeed be shopping for Ferrari’s, dinner parties with costume changes every 20 minutes, sitting in his living room watching 5 TV’s all on different channels, rooting through his hundred large tupperware bins of crazy stuff, just hanging out brainstorming about the next best thing and listening to Sin’s facts about anything and everything… I could write so much more, and I am sure that everyone that knew Sin could recall the fun times they shared with him. I am going to miss him so much.

Sin, we love you and hope that you are in a better place. A place where people do understand that you are truly a genius.

Les October 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Actually I don’t know how to describe my feelings. There are too many to express for the friendship between Sin & I.

We had life together, good times and tough times, like family.

I’m having a hard time accepting such an icon in my life has passed. I keep asking where God is. I don’t care how many miracles He made, he didn’t save Sin.

Over the past few years, I begged of him to put a magic on my friend, but it seemed that He was non existent.

Hopefully, He had more important assignments for Sin to spread his spirit in another world.

It’s not really fair because we need the giant clown here too.

Sin will be always on my mind as a mentor forever.

Seriously, we all owe him a huge debt for his generosity, contributions and especially the laughs he gave us.

I’d like to express my condolences to his family, friends and especially Stella for the loss of him. There were so many things that made him special. He will always be in my heart.

Stella , Your Dad was so much more than he let everyone see. He was Great!

ANDREW MORRISON October 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Another brother fallen, Sin was a great skater and a top bloke and through an era of flouro and handstands he still managed to make us laugh. You will be greatly missed my friend.

R.P. Bess October 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

I grew up knowing of Sin. Wearing and admiring his creations and genius. Watching him skate at McGill’s. I was honored to have the chance to work with him and experience his extremely eccentric creativity.
Not long before he returned to Australia we spent hours scanning old Airwalk ads and catalogs for a piece on him and the brand. It was great having that time to relive the old days. Me on my side of the board and he on his. I think he really enjoyed it and needed it. I enjoyed hearing all the inside stories of the glory days.
I will miss his hairdos, beards (the neck beard only was one of my faves) and his crazy gear. Cec those weren’t pajama pants. “Pajama pants don’t have belt loops.” Or was it pockets? That was Sin’s comeback when I used to give him crap for wearing pajamas to work. I’m half laughing and crying as I type this and think of his wacky behaviors.
Shopping for a car with him was insane too. He was all over the place. Anything from an Aztec to a Porsche to a VW Van so he could put his nonexistent shifter cart in the back. Trying to get him to have a rational thought was exhausting. It was all part of his creative personality.
Stella I don’t know about your dad’s early years but I do know that you were his inspiration when I knew him.
To my third son, Sin you will forever be loved and missed.
R.P. Bess

GH October 27, 2009 at 5:17 am

Glad to have known you, lost you and known you again.
It was only a few weeks ago when you were in my home and i couldnt get rid of you, damn i miss you.

30 odd years has gone so quick.

Peace and love to your family and friends, you are forever with me.


Buddy Carr October 27, 2009 at 7:42 am

I was thinking of Sin last week while i was skating the carmel valley pool, thinking how much he would like the corners. Wondering when he would be back so that we could go skate, share laughs and exchange ideas. Yesterday i realized that day will never come. Sin i thank you for all the great times these past 24 years, for your kindness and for your generosity. i miss you brother. To his little girl Stella, your father was a stand up man with a heart of gold.

FRANCKB October 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

R.I.P Sin.
God bless you and your family.

Richard Dirk October 27, 2009 at 11:03 am

It’s hard to to think life passed Sin. Printing his 5-O stuff for him with Dan Sturt
makes me laugh now as much as it did then. He was…really funny.

Much respect…

Holden October 27, 2009 at 11:35 am

It has been many years since I thought of him, but it seems to me at this moment that I may not have met a purer creative soul than Sin. Maybe to be genius is to be among the few who cross any of our paths and inescapably leave a mark on our memory. In late night rants at Transworld or Airwalk, and during grand encounters at tradeshows or industry events, I was never bored to be in Sin’s company. If not always wholly comprehensible, he never left a doubt of his own clarity of vision. Sincere condolences to the family of a man well worth remembering.

Joe Bowers October 27, 2009 at 11:46 am

Sin and I had a lot of fun skating the junk no one wanted to skate at Del Mar as well as ditches in North County and street spots in between. I saw him a few years ago while visiting SD and now I am sad I never followed up on our brief conversation. Your influence was great, you’ll be missed – rest in peace my friend.

Bill Billing October 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Sin was part of our DMSR family. He made me feel like I had known him for years after only knowing him for days. Some time ago, I ran into him in a parking lot after not seeing him for years and those years melted away instantly. We stood and talked for a half hour about everything and nothing and then we walked away from each other like it was the end of just another “Sin” conversation.
That was the last time I saw him.
RIP, Sin.

Joe Polevy October 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Impossible to eulogize this derelict genius. A creative tour de force, loyal friend, and true non-conformist with a heart of gold. I now appreciate and understand all the good and bad times I had with him. The funny stories he told me of his childhood in Yugoslavia and Australia, and of his travels abroad, could fill volumes.

Peace to you and thank you for all your help in this life.

Paul Sunman October 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I remember you for your outstanding character, personality, creativity and humour. A rare gift indeed and a very sad loss.

Tim Swart October 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

here’s another good one… in 1994 George Yohn, the (then) owner of Airwalk said “why would a grown man go to work wearing a McDonald’s uniform?”

JAF October 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm

lol, that’s awesome tim.

condolences to sin’s family. sin sounded like a person who truly expressed himself throughout his life-not many of us are really able to be who we really want to be.

Fulton October 28, 2009 at 12:51 am

I imagine you are up there right now Sin, pitching God on the benefits of “Sumo Wrestler Cushioning” with all the enthusiasm of a child.

It strikes me that nobody ever had to admonish Sin to “Think Outside The Box”.

Those of us who had the honor and challenge to try and bring some of the crazy stuff that came out of his head to life understood quickly that Sin never even realized there was a “Box”.

He left the earth a more interesting place for having been here. What more can anybody aspire to?

Godspeed Sin.

Jaimie Muehlhausen October 28, 2009 at 2:22 am

I met Sin on my first day of work at Airwalk in ’87, when the office was still in an old former dentist’s office. I had no idea what to make of him and I still don’t. We spent the next 6 years turning Airwalk into Airwalk. He was always pushing the limits of everything, creatively and otherwise, and he was both absolutely hilarious to be around and frustrating as hell. He was absolutely an influence on all of us in the action sports world and beyond. He was beyond eccentric and willing to do just about anything for that one second of humorous recognition. Once he came to work with half his beard shaved and the other half of his mustache shaved. When he pissed us off, Roger Sgarbossa and I used to put dried fish inside his telephone and the headrest of his chair to mess with him. When he was at his best he was a joy to be around and he always pushed for what he believed in no matter the cost. I didn’t realize until tonight that his daughter’s name is Stella, as is one of my daughters. My thoughts are with her right now…your dad was truly one of a kind and we will be telling stories about him until we are gone too.

Tory Orzeck October 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Wow. I wish the story were Sin just faked his own death announcement just to get this outpouring.
Funny how he is always on everyone’s mind even though a lot of us had not had a whole lot of contact of late.
On a professional level Sin was one of the few creative guys who not only got it but made things better and funnier. He had no corporate fear.
A lot of the time his gut was prophecy. He was as he said a Retarded Genius.

Julie Rieger (Muehlhausen) October 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm

R.I.P. Brother….Things wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Dave Hostetter October 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm

We loved Sin through out the ups and downs. We knew that he was a good man and that he tried to do what he thought was right. We are sad that his life during the past decade was hard for him and those closest to him. We wanted him to be happy…he deserved that. Sin gave the world more than most people know. We will always be grateful that he came into our lives. Rest in peace, son.

Tris Ann Garboski October 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I worked with Sin at Airwalk in State College/Boalsburg, PA in the mid 90’s. He was truly a “one-of-a-kind”. They were expecting Stella and I remember him being so excited. My sympathy goes out to his family and Stella. Rest In Peace.

Louk & Nicola Schulten October 28, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Sin, we think of you so often, you are an inspiration to us all. We are so fortunate to have crossed paths with you at Airwalk, it sure was a good time.

You just never knew what was going to happen next with Sin – but it was never dull.

We will never forget when you handed us your business card – on a spatular! I am still laughing!

We will miss you. Shine on like a freshly chromed wrench man!

Peace. Love. You really are something special.

Our thoughts are with Stella and his family.

curt stevenson October 29, 2009 at 8:37 am

There would never have been a POWEREDGE skateboard magazine without Sin Egelia. He was a master of making things happen. His sense of humor and intensity were ferocious. Thank You Sin – Rest in Peace. God bless your family.

Rob Dotson October 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I remember meeting Sin for the first time and was instantly blown away by his personality and passion for skateboarding.

I had the honor to work with him both as a sponsored am/pro with Airwalk and as the Team Manger of Airwalk years later. I have to this day never met another soul like him and will keep my memories of him with me always.

Brad Shaw October 30, 2009 at 4:02 am

Sin was layed to rest today here in Australia , his family here wish all of you many thanks for the kind words about Sin and how he touched so many people ,
i am sure these words will be touching him too.

JBHogan October 31, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Ah, Sin. Here’s to you.

steve nilsen November 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

When i was a product developer for airwalk, i remember we were looking alternative soft materials for the inside of the snowboard boots. i asked Sin if there was any super soft materials that hadn’t yet been used in boots yet. His response was, “Puppy tummy. Hell, there’s enough of them running around the streets of China. We’d be doing them a favor.” I also remember we booked the same flight for an ASR show. Sin met me at the airport… an Amish wig and beard. (pre-9/11). I can’t make this stuff up and and am proud to say he was my co-worker and friend. RIP buddy….

Jennifer Knox Maxon November 11, 2009 at 9:34 pm

How much fun I had hanging out with you the neck beard and the Viper rides some of my fav times what a great ride you had. I will miss you dearly.

Brian Stephenson November 13, 2009 at 8:39 am

I hate to say that I just found out about Sin’s passing this morning. I am deeply saddened by this news and I really feel like a special light in the world has gone out. I only knew Sin for a short period of time while I worked at Airwalk but I knew of him for many many years before I actually met him. I have very vivid memories of Sin. Airwalk was my first job out of college and it fulfilled my dream of working in the skate industry. Sin was like mad scientist up in his “lab” in Boalsburg, PA. I remember going up there and being so intimidated on a certain level but he was so cool and open to me. We would talk about skateboarding and his ideas for Sumo technology. I remember having a conversation with him about how rad old school barber chairs were. Then we had another conversation about how he wanted to have an art show in Boston and how he wanted to have one gigantic warehouse sized room be a freezer and in it would be a three story real ice cream cone. He was really stoked on that. I vividly rememer him driving around state college in his VW bug and talking about how cool it was that it had a flower pot in it. My other great story that I will remember forever was him telling me all about how much his Viper sucked because the convertible top would blow off at 160mph. I’ll remember that forever as I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. I have come to find that very very few people are the real deal when it comes to creativity. The word is tossed around a lot but very few people are the genuine article as far as creativity goes. I think that when you are that gifted it is both a blessing and a curse. I am so sad to hear that he has left us because I was always waiting to see what he would do next. I felt like there was another chapter coming and that I would end up running into him somewhere. For me Sin was the epitome of all that was good about skateboarding, design, being creative, etc. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to spend a little time with him as he has continued to inspire me to this day. You will be missed Sin but rest knowing that you made a huge impact while you were here.

Nicholas Farris November 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I will always remember Sin from the early days of Manly Skate City where I was barely a teenager and Sin was one of the older local guys that used to dominate the place. Unlike most of the other guys who were totally immersed in their own skating he would would always encourage the groms to have ago and try to make their mark amongst the older guys. I followed his progress to Airwalk and the States and often used to run into him at trade shows like ASR. He was a true pioneer of action sports and a great loss now that he is gone. Long live Sin. Rock and Roll.

sonja egelja December 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I am sin’s sister Sonja Egelja Wilson Watterson. I am devastated that I lost my amazing bother. as Sin’s mum and dad are devastated to of lost their only son. Reading all the messages posted on the net has been breath taking. We all have had a hard time dealing with Sin’s passing. Today the 11th of December is the first time I was able to get access to a computer and was able to read all the messages.I thank you all for your kind words.I will give you all the details of Sin’s death ASAP. I will also share with you all what was said at the funeral.At the end of the funeral I chose Sin’s favourite song to be played. It was Whip it by Devo. When I here that song now I think of Sin. And what he wanted us to do in our lives and that is whip our problems good. Get back to you all soon.

love sonja

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