Tom Morey, inventor of the Boogie Board, dies at 86

Tom and Marchia Morey celebrating the International Boogie Board Day. Screenshot from YouTube.

With the most vivid memories, I recall the first time I rode a Boogie Board in the Pacific Ocean. Like so many other young Southern California kids, I was out trying to learn the rhythm of the sea – waiting and waiting and then paddling and kicking like a runaway riverboat to catch a wave. The older wetsuited surfers may have resented us salt-water-swallowing groms pilfering their waves, but the ocean didn’t seem to play favorites. I learned nothing but respect for the mystical magic of currents, waves, and tides.

The durable and spongy Boogie Board was a great equalizer in the water – allowing the young, gawky, uncoordinated, and amateurish our opportunity on the bullride of the sea. Yippee-ki-yay, dude!

All of this is to say mahalo to Tom Morey, inventor of the Boogie Board who died last month at age 86. “That single device introduced more people to the joy of waveriding than any other person in the world,” said Jim Kempton, president of the California Surfing Museum. “His simple gift – a design that allowed anyone from paraplegics to Pipeline pros to boogie their brains out on a wave – will be his joyous, lasting, legacy.”

Kempton, former editor of Surfer magazine, called Morey “the Ben Franklin of the surfing world. Like Franklin, Morey was a jack of all trades and the master of so many it is almost dizzying.” Morey was a jazz drummer, surfing design fabricator, ukulele player, and an engineer.

The first Saturday of November is International Boogie Day — or the International Bodyboarding Day.

Morey sold his stake in his invention back in 1977. “I got a good chunk of money,” he would later report. “I spent some of it wisely and I spent some of it unwisely. I’ve been up and down and over and out.” When asked at age 72 if the Boogie Board made him wealthy, he said: “I can surf. I’m healthy. I’m creative. Hey! A lot of my multi-millionaire friends … they’re gone. Nobody’s trying to kidnap my kids, because they don’t have no money! I’m not running from the IRS. I don’t have any kind of income that’s of importance. Life is about riding in the curl.”

RIP Tom Morey.

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