Tom Morey, Surfer Who Invented the Boogie Board, Dies at 86


But Mr. Morey did not get rich from the Boogie Board. He sold his company sometime in 1977 or 1978 to Kransco, a toy manufacturer, for an undetermined moderate sum and received no royalties.

Mr. Morey was philosophical about his lost windfall.

“Say I had sold this for a billion dollars,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 2003. “l’m still going to be sitting here in my bathing suit. I’m not going to eat any more than I’m eating.”

Thomas Hugh Morey was born on Aug. 15, 1935, in Detroit, to Howard and Grace Morey. His father was a real estate agent, his mother a homemaker. A family move to Laguna Beach, Calif., when Tom was young introduced him to the Pacific Ocean and surfboarding.

Enrolling at the University of Southern California, he started as a music major but earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1957. While still in college, he and a classmate, Bob Tierney, created the Fantopper, a shapeable, honeycomb paper hat. They sold 100,000 of them (some to Joan Collins and Red Skelton), and the hat was featured in a cover story in Parade magazine that posed the question, “Will paper hats become a fad?”

Mr. Morey joined Douglas Aircraft in the late 1950s after a stint in the Army. At Douglas he specialized in composite materials (which he already knew about from his early surfboard making) but left several years later to open a surf shop and build custom surfboards in Ventura, Calif. He organized the Tom Morey Invitational surfing tournament in Ventura in 1965; it’s believed to be the sport’s first prize-money competition.

After the sale of his Boogie Board business, Mr. Morey continued to work on surfboard innovations while playing drums with a band at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii’s big island. In 1985, needing money, he moved to Washington State, where he took a job with Boeing and returned to working with composite materials.



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