Santa Cruz County

Paddleout in honor of Jack O'Neill set for July at Pleasure Point

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UPDATE: 6/7/2017 The Family of Jack O’Neill, O’Neill  Wetsuits and O’Neill Surf Shop invites everyone to join a paddle out and day long celebration of Jack’s life and adventures at Jack’s favorite beach, Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz County.

The celebration of life ceremony will take place Sunday July 9, 2017 at 11 a.m. 

Legendary surfer Jack O'Neill passed away Friday, June 2 at age 94. 

Memorial contributions in support of Jack’s love of the oceans may be sent to

PREVIOUS STORY:  6/2/2017 11:00 p.m.: Santa Cruz pioneer Jack O'Neill passed away Friday, leaving behind a lasting impact worldwide.

O'Neill, creator of the wetsuit and founder of the O'Neill brand was 94 years old.

According to family friend Dan Haifley, O'Neill died peacefully Friday morning of natural causes in his Pleasure Point home.

He was surrounded by family and the ocean that he loved so much.

"Jack's innovation of the wetsuit and his work with the surf industry enabled hundreds of thousands of people to get into the colder, frigid waters of the Northern Hemisphere," Haifley said.

Dan Haifley, who is also the executive director of O'Neill Sea Odyssey says Jack's work didn't stop there.

He also made it his mission to give back to the Santa Cruz community with the O'Neill Sea Odyssey non-profit that teaches kids about marine life.

In June of 2018, it will have served 100,000 students.

"When he first started his business, he saw the ocean as a playground, he always saw the ocean as something to be protected," Haifley said. "Later, when he started the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program, he saw the ocean as a classroom and science lab so, for him, everything came back to the ocean."

Jack's work is still making it possible for everyone to be able to enjoy the ocean as much as he did.

Christian is a surfer visiting from Germany, a place he says has cooler waters than Santa Cruz. He says the wetsuit O'Neill invented makes it possible for him and his friends to do what they love.

"It's impossible to go out there without a wetsuit, if you see the people out there surfing, there's no one without [one]," Christian said. "It's really important, otherwise it wouldn't be that much fun. So, we can say thank you to this guy for inventing more fun for us."

A reminder that O'Neill's impact goes far beyond his home town.

"That's sad to hear that somebody that invented something that important to us surfers passed away," Christian said.

Jack O'Neill's family and friends will keep his legacy alive with the business and O'Neill Sea Odyssey.

There is no word yet on a Memorial, though the number of flowers and candles placed in his front yard grow steadily.


PREVIOUS STORY: Surfing legend Jack O’Neill died in Santa Cruz Friday morning, according to Dan Haifley, who runs O'Neill Sea Odyssey.

Haifley said O'Neill passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family. He was 94 and died of natural causes.

O’Neill was one of the founders of the O’Neill Surf Shop and is known for being one of the lead inventors of the modern day wetsuit.

The O’Neill family lives in an infamous sea green beach house built with easy access to the beach off East Cliff Dr. in Santa Cruz.

It’s not secret the mark O’Neill has left on the Central Coast. The Dream Inn has a lounge inside its hotel named after him. Surfboards are suspended from the ceiling and personal memorabilia line the walls, all ways of remembering the legendary surfer.

KION will have more on this story.

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