Surfing Legend And Wetsuit Pioneer Jack O’Neill Dies

By 06.03.17

Jack O’Neill, the surfing legend who pioneered the wetsuit and opened one of the world’s first surf shops, has died. The Northern California surfing icon died at the age of 94 from natural causes at his longtime oceanfront home in Santa Clara.

O’Neill, who was a Navy Air Corps pilot in the 1940s, opened his first Surf Shop in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach in 1952. He wanted to make clothing that allowed surfers to brave the cold waters of the northern Pacific Ocean all year round. He made the world’s first wetsuit in the 1970s and used neoprene, which was used by the U.S. Navy. He was the founder of the iconic worldwide surf company O’Neill. By the 1980s, O’Neill had become the world’s largest recreation wetsuit manufacturer.

O’Neill was known for his eye patch that he wore ever since a surfing accident in 1971. His surfboard hit his left eye while riding a wave.

He is an ocean lover and started the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a marine and environmental education program for children, in 1996. The program has taken nearly 100,000 school-age children on his personal Team O’Neill catamaran to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to learn about the ocean. “The ocean is alive and we’ve got to take care of it,” O’Neill said about the program. “There is no doubt in my mind that the O’Neil Sea Odyssey is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

[USAToday]


TAGSdeathsJack O'NeillSurfingWetsuit

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