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Surfer, Boogie Board inventor Tom Morey dies at 86

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Tom Morey, who invented the Boogie Board in Hawaii, allowing belly wave riding, has died at 86.

Morey died on October 14 in Laguna Hills, Calif., from complications of a strike, his son Sol told The New York Times Friday.

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"Tom Morey's invention allowed more people to experience wave riding than any person in the history of surfing," California Surf Museum President Jim Kempton told the Times. "It didn't create radical surfing performances, but it was a really fun and simple way for people to understand wave riding."

Morey used an electric knife and iron he'd borrowed from a neighbor to shape a 9-foot plank of foam in his garage on the Big Island of Hawaii into the lightweight, flexible board in July 1971, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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He sold the first Boogie Board for $10 and within a year began to sell tens of thousands. Seven years later, he sold the rights to a San Francisco corporation and the rights to the name are now owned by Wham-O toy company.

A "Birthplace of the Boogie" plaque will be erected at Honl's Beach Park in Hawaii in his honor, SurferToday.com reported. The official installation ceremony will be held on Nov. 6.

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Morey moved to Hawaii after his first marriage ended in divorce, and worked giving surf lessons and as a drummer in various gigs. He had other inventions before the Boogie Board, including a three-piece surfboard to break down to fit in a suitcase and a liquid surfboard traction solution to make it easier to stay upright on a surfboard.

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"Here on the beach at Wai'aha, which translates as 'Gathering Water,' also known as Honl's Beach, renowned surfer, musician, and visionary inventor, Tom Morey, fashioned the first-ever boogie board and invented the sport of boogie boarding," the 6-foot tall plaque reads. "When he rode that first wave here on his new creation on July 7, 1971, he revolutionized surfing and changed surf culture forever."

Morey was born Aug., 15, 1935, in Detroit to Howard, a real estate agent, and Grace Morey, a homemaker.

He moved to Laguna Beach, Calif., when he was young and took up surfboarding.

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He was interested in drumming and jazz, and went to University of California, Los Angeles as a music major, but ended up earning his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1957.

In the late 1950s after a stint in the Army, he joined Douglas Aircraft, where he specialized in composite materials, then left several years later to open a surf shop in Ventura, Calif.

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In 1965, he organized the Tom Morey Invitational surfing tournament, which is believed to be the sport's first prize-money competition.

After selling his Boogie Board business in 1978, he continued working on inventions and playing drums until he moved to Washington state when he needed money in 1985, and took a job with Boeing where he returned to working with composite materials.

He moved back to Southern California in 1992 and continued to make surfboards, including the Swizzle, made of polypropylene foam, which is used inside car bumpers, and he continued surfing into his 70s.

Morey is survived by his wife Marchia, daughter Melinda Morey, sons: Sol, Moon, Sky and Matteson; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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