A couple years ago when I was still in the stages of figuring out how to make my wetsuit vision a reality, I began researching everything there was to know about wetsuits and neoprene. I also wanted to study those in the industry who I deemed "successful" and how they came to be. A simple google search for "wetsuit" resulted in some of the top names in the industry of which O'Neill was front-stage-centre.
As I delved into the history of the O'Neill brand, I learned about Jack's passion for surfing and efforts to discover a way to endure the cold waters off of California's southern coast. I related to his desire to create something that he felt was missing in his industry and especially with his experimental efforts to fine-tune a product that people wanted.
Jack opened his first Surf Shop in Ocean Beach, San Francisco and followed with a second in Santa Cruz, California during the 50s as the surf scene became more popular. Over the years, him and his family developed the business as surfing expanded beyond California and in the 1980s, O'Neill had reached worldwide prestige as the largest recreational wetsuit designer and manufacturer with particular success in Australia, Europe, Japan and beyond.
Jack's proudest achievement has been the establishment of the O'Neill Sea Odyssey, which takes 30 children at a time to the newly designated Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with a goal of marine and environmental education. Along with the OSO catamaran, there is a dedicated coast-side classroom and laboratory in the Santa Cruz Harbour, which was built in 1965.
Jack O'Neill you are an inspiration to me because, through passion and innovation, you have created an impressive worldwide brand with top quality products for the water sports industry. At the same time, you've also given back to your water sports community in significant ways. I can only hope that one day, Truli Wetsuits will be as remarkable as O'Neill remains today! RIP Mr. O'Neill.
Memorial contributions in support of Jack’s love of the oceans may be sent to http://oneillseaodyssey.org.
All information about Jack O'Neill is credited to O'Neill.com