Jack O’Neill, Founder Of Iconic Surf Brand, Dies At 94
Jack O’Neill, a pioneer in wetsuit technology and founder of the iconic California surf brand died of natural causes Friday at the age of 94, the Orange County Register reported. Friends of the Santa Cruz local confirmed to Monterey news station on Friday. For those who don’t surf, O’Neill’s name is still recognizable as the popular surf brand with a wave-like logo seen on T-shirts, sweatshirts and board shorts, usually worn by anyone who can appreciate a beach-centered lifestyle. The Santa Cruz surfer is credited with inventing the modern wetsuit and elevating the sport of surfing. He is survived by his six children.
For those who do surf, however, O’Neill was an innovator of the sport and a true soul surfer. He was known as the eye patch-wearing pioneer (his eye was injured in a surfing accident) who created one of the first neoprene based wetsuits, which allowed surfers to remain in cold water much longer. While others claimed to have invented the wetsuit, it is O’Neill who is widely credited with expanding surf culture into the colder coastal areas of the world. In 1952, O’Neill opened a small surf shop at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, a first for the area, and looked for ways to stay warm in Northern California’s chilly waters. While working on the neoprene-based wetsuit, O’Neill moved his shop south to Santa Cruz. “I thought that I would have a little shop on the beach and some people to surf with. But I kept up on the neoprene wetsuit and I soon got letters from around the world, people who were interested in staying warm in the water,” O’Neill said in a 2012 interview with surf news site Surfline. “Nobody is more surprised than I am how it’s grown,” he said of his invention.
Surf brands and wetsuit makers still use neoprene. O’Neill, as a brand, branched into men’s and women’s athletic wear, lifestyle clothing and swimsuits. In 1996, O’Neill, the surfer, founded the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a youth program that teaches environmental and marine conservation. In an interview with RedBull TV published this last December, O’Neill revealed what he values most: “The three most important things in life are surf, surf and surf.” Now there is a man of focus!
Jack O’Neill Lived A Long Life Doing Exactly What He Loved!
Susan Z’s Conclusion:
Some lucky individuals find their calling and are blessed with running with it their whole life. O’Neill’s passion I believe, went much further than just surfing. The ocean and everything is represented to life on this planet was what truly called to him and made him happy.
Seven of Wands:
This card is being challenged and making a stand. I feel this was O’Neill’s outlook on wanting to surf where and when he wanted. So, he went about creating a product that would allow him to do that. It was definitely a personal agenda that became embraced by all avid surfers such as himself.
This card is about being honest with yourself and sometimes legal issues. I believe this shows O’Neill’s acceptance of aging gracefully but still doing what he loved regardless of who said they invented the neoprene wet suit first.
Eight of Cups: Inverted (Upside Down)
This card is disappointment in love and life. This card being pulled inverted might indicate that surfing was his true love and all other relationships may have not been much of a priority in his life which of course does not make for lasting personal commitments.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.