Jun 06, 2017 11:09 PM GMT
NYT: Jack O’Neill, who popularized the neoprene wetsuits that defied the cold, the calendar and the continents to create an endless summer for surfers around the world, died on Friday at his home in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 94.
His death was announced by his company, O’Neill Inc., which he started in 1952 in a converted garage in that city. He coined and trademarked the name Surf Shop and transformed it into the most successful maker of surfing wetsuits. It still sells them through an O’Neill Surf Shop in Santa Cruz and globally under the O’Neill name.
O’Neill Inc. delivered on the company’s maxim about wetsuits with a universal appeal: “It’s always summer on the inside.”
In pursuing surfing off the Northern California coast, Mr. O’Neill — rakishly bushy-bearded and typecast by a piratical eye patch — found respite from his claustrophobic jobs as a draftsman, taxi driver and fire extinguisher salesman in San Francisco. At that point he was an outlier; surfing was only beginning to spread across the Pacific from Hawaii.