Jack O'Neill (businessman)

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Jack O'Neill
Jack and Sam Farr.png
O'Neill (left) with United States Congressman Sam Farr
Born (1923-03-27)March 27, 1923[1]
Denver, Colorado
Citizenship American
Home town Santa Cruz, California
Children 7

Jack O'Neill is an American businessman, often credited with the invention of the wetsuit.[2] In 1952 he founded the O'Neill brand while opening one of California's first surf shops in a garage on the Great Highway in San Francisco, close to his favorite bodysurfing break at the time.[2] This led to the establishment of a company that deals in wetsuits, surf gear, and clothing.[3] Jack O'Neill's name is attached to surfwear and his brand of surfing equipment.[4] Although O'Neill is widely believed to be the inventor of the wetsuit, an investigation concluded that UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner was most likely the original inventor.[5]

In December 1996 he also began a non profit organization called O'Neill Sea Odyssey which provides students with hands-on lessons in marine biology and that teaches the relationship between the oceans and the environment.[6]

O'Neill resides on a beachfront property in Santa Cruz, California, where he has lived since 1959.[7][8]

He graduated from the University of Portland, per the University of Portland Alumni Office.


in 2002, O'Neil was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award Recipient for the Northern California Region.[9]


  1. ^ Floater. "Surf legend Jack O'Neill hits 89". http://www.epicsurf.com.au/. Retrieved 25 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ a b Drew Kampion and Ben Marcus (December 2009). "Jack O'Neill". Surfing Encyclopedia. Surfline, Inc. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Willis, Clint (2003). Big Wave: Stories of Riding the World's Wildest Water. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-1-56025-501-7. 
  4. ^ Guisado, Raul; Jeff Klaas (2005). Surfing California: A Complete Guide to the Best Breaks on the California Coast. Globe Pequot. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7627-2966-1. 
  5. ^ Eisenstadt, David (11 October 2005). "Surfing whodunit". www.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ "Senator Boxer Gives "Conservation Champion" Award to O'Neill Sea Odyssey" (Press release). Barbara Boxer. 2005-05-27. 
  7. ^ Klinger, Max (May 27, 2012). "Jack O'Neill, 89, a surfing legend who endures". San Francisco Chronicle. SFGate.com. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ "How wet-suit pioneer Jack O’Neill shaped surfing culture" By Eric Gustafson, August 7, 2015 sfgate.com
  9. ^ Jack O'Neill Honored SURFER Magazine. N.p., 27 June 2002. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Further reading[edit]