Tom Morey, surfer who invented the boogie board, dies aged 86

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But Mr. Morey didn’t get rich off the boogie board. He sold his company to Kransco, a toy manufacturer, at some point in 1977 or 1978 for an indefinite moderate amount, and received no royalties.

Mr. Morey was philosophical about his lost fortune.

“Suppose I sold this for a billion dollars,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “I’ll still be sitting here in my swimsuit. I will not eat more than I eat. “

Thomas Hugh Morey was born on August 15, 1935 in Detroit to Howard and Grace Morey. His father was a real estate agent, his mother a housewife. A family move to Laguna Beach, California when Tom was little took him to the Pacific and surfing.

He enrolled at the University of Southern California and studied music, but got his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1957. While still in college, he and a classmate, Bob Tierney, created the Fantopper, a malleable, honeycomb-shaped paper hat. They sold 100,000 of them (some to Joan Collins and Red Skelton), and the hat was featured in a Parade magazine cover story that asked the question, “Are paper hats going to be a fad?”

Mr. Morey joined Douglas Aircraft in the late 1950s after serving in the Army. At Douglas he specialized in composite materials (which he already knew from his early surfboard making) but left a few years later to open a surf shop in Ventura, California, and build bespoke surfboards. He organized the Tom Morey Invitational Surf Tournament in Ventura in 1965; It is believed to be the sport’s premier prize money competition.

After selling his boogie board business, Mr. Morey continued working on surfboard innovation while playing drums with a band at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii’s big island. In 1985, out of financial difficulties, he moved to Washington State, where he accepted a position at Boeing and returned to working with composites.

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