The theme of Russ Lesser’s talk may have been the growth of Body Glove, but it was a celebration of what he called the “American system.”  
He was described as an icon of the South Bay. Lesser has been a surfer since his youth and lifelong resident of the South Bay. He described his life’s journey in a luncheon speech to the Rotary Club of Redondo Beach, with a focus on Body Glove.
His journey began, he said, with an early family vacation to the East Coast visiting many of the historic sites of pre-and-early America, including Civil War sites.
Since 1990 Lesser has been the president of Body Glove International, a business of wetsuit, active outdoor apparel and equipment.
Later in his talk, Lesser segued from the early days of Dive N’ Surf to how the name Body Glove – now a worldwide brand – came into being. “It was during a discussion with a few other guys,” he said. He recounted starting a factory in Torrance, then Thailand, and in early 2000 he was “approached by three guys who asked for a license of the brand;” now, the company is valued at over $200 million.
He is the founder of the rock band "Thin Ice" and played with that group as a guitarist, song writer and vocalist. In fact, he recorded an album commemorating 100 years of surfing in the United States.
A civic minded individual, Lesser served on the city council and two terms as mayor of Manhattan Beach, a board member of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, and is the co-founder of the Manhattan Beach 10K Run in 1978 which is one of the to 100 road races in the country. In 1994, Russ and his wife, Charlotte,  received the South Bay Citizens of the Year award.