Tom Morey, inventor of the Boogie Board and Ben Franklin of surfing, dies at 86

“It was Morey who introduced more humans to the act of wave surfing than anyone else in history,” said Jim Kempton, president of the California Surf Museum. “It’s quite an accomplishment if you think about it, millions and millions of people have surfed the waves, and I would say a lot of them started on his inventions.”

Morey died Thursday.

Morey was born August 15, 1935 in Detroit, but moved to Laguna Beach early in his childhood and started surfing. At the age of 12, he had his first paid job as a musician, then he studied music at the University of Southern California, where he won a national competition for his jazz band.

While pursuing surfing as a hobby, he took a job at Douglas Aircraft, but later started the Morey-Pope & Co. surf shop in Ventura.

In 1965, he hosted the Tom Morey Invitational Surf Tournament, the very first professional surfing competition with cash prizes, said Barry Haun, curator and creative director of the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center.

The creator of the Boogey Board

Between the surf and the battery in hotels, he had the idea of ​​a foam board, according to Surf Today. He cut half a piece of foam, shaped it with an iron, and rounded the nose to create a three-pound board. For reference, surfboards at the time weighed between 30 and 50 pounds, which often resulted in injuries during wipeouts.

“The Boogie Board basically turned that kind of soft surface and that safety factor into something that was also functional for high performance,” Kempton said.

Morey tested his invention in Hawaii, where he was living at the time. After a successful first round, his wife Marchia tested him – when she was eight months pregnant, according to SurferToday. It would soon become the Boogie Board, or as he first called it, the SNAKE – which meant side, navel, arm, knee, and elbow.
According to the Washington Post, the first Boogie Board sold for $ 10, which he found on the spot after someone tried to buy one. But upon his return to California, he made them in bulk for $ 37, as that was his age at the time.

The Boogie Board could be used by most people, according to Kempton. Due to the versatility and ease of the board, many members of the surfing community put a wedge between bodyboarders and surfers. Morey, however, was adamantly opposed to the separation, Kempton said.

But despite the immense success of the Boogie Board, with millions of sales worldwide, it hasn’t benefited much. He sold his business and brand in 1977, and it was later taken over by the toy company Wham-O. Morey was a consultant for Wham-O for several years, before working as an engineer for 15 years at Boeing.

Tom’s invention of the Boogie Board not only changed the landscape of Wham-O in 1978, the Boogie Board opened up the possibility for just about anyone to be able to ride a wave anywhere in the world. the world, “company president Todd Richards wrote in an email to CNN.

A supporting figure, on and off the ground

All the while, however, he cared about everyone around him, while still continuing to share his ideas with the world.

“Everyone he met, he always welcomed them totally, and he was engrossed, and he had influence over these people,” said his son Sol Morey. “He gave them free rein and helped them improve what they were doing.”

“He encouraged people, he praised people, because a lot of people when they go into a school and they don’t fall into the right niche that the teachers are teaching in, you lose half of your population to because of these dogmatic ways of how we think everyone should fit in a little box, which is why all of these people love him so much, ”his wife Marchia told CNN.

Nine-time world bodyboard champion Mike Stewart told CNN his whole world was influenced by Morey, who accepted him with open arms and facilitated his growth in the sport. Stewart was with him to test out several of his designs, and he considers Morey an “unprecedented” figure not only in wave surfing, but also in creative thinking.

The Thomas Edison of surfing

Although he quit surfing in the late 1970s, Morey never stopped inventing. Almost two decades before he created the Boogie Board, he created a “wingtip” surfboard design after realizing that the surfboard could go into waves better if the nose was raised slightly.

In 1965 he made a “paper surfboard” and successfully advertised it in a television commercial and on a reader’s Digest spread.

The Edison-like or Ben Franklin-like figure as described by his wife patented a soft-bodied surfboard that he called the Swizzle board, as well as a surfboard that folded into a suitcase. He is also credited with popularizing the removable fin so that boards can travel more easily.

“He never rested on his laurels. He was always on the lookout for the next invention that could make surfing easier and better,” said Haun.

His love for music never stopped. Earlier in his career, he performed alongside jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Stu Williamson. He led jazz groups until he was 80 years old. In fact, the name of the Boogie Board comes from his love of music.

It made its last public appearance just two weeks ago, on October 6, on the Boogie Board’s 50th anniversary.

He is survived by his wife Marchia Nicholas Morey; Melinda Morey, a daughter from his first marriage to Jolly Givens; four sons from his second marriage named Sol, Moon, Sky and Matteson Morey; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

“There is a tribe of people who are not necessarily just surfers, but people of the ocean who feel a connection with the ocean as the source of all things, and that was a common language I knew I had. with my dad, ”Melinda Morey said. “If I had generational issues trying to explain something to him, I could always use the ocean as a metaphor and say it in a way he could understand.”

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