Obit of the Day: Co-Founder of Body Glove
In the 1950s, Bob and Bill Meistrell opened up a surf shop with their friend Bev Morgan. Life other shops of their type they sold surfboards and other surfing-related supplies.
But everything changed with Mr. Morgan discovered declassified plans for wetsuits made of a synthetic material called neoprene. (The first was designed by Hugh Bradner of UC-Berkeley for the Navy but they decided against using the new suits.) The brothers and Mr. Morgan decided to create their own wet suits using the unusual material.
In 1953 they started selling custom wetsuits and called them “The Body Glove.” The threesome were the first to develop a standard sizing chart, which is still used today. Within a few years they were making their wetsuits for the Los Angeles Police Department, L.A. lifeguards, and, ironically, the U.S. Navy.
The brothers would buy out Mr. Morgan in 1957 and in 1965 renamed their entire company Body Glove. As of 2013 the company, which remains family owned, sold over $200 million in merchandise which includes their original wetsuits, as well as footwear, bikinis, and snorkels and masks.
Bill Meistrell passed away in 2006 at the age of 78. His brother Bob, who made a submarine dive of 300 feet on his 84th birthday (July 28, 2012), passed away on June 16, 2013.
Random note: In 1972 the brothers, who were also accomplished scuba divers, discovered large round stones off the coast of Redondo Beach. Archaeologists determined that they were anchors used by Chinese ships…4,000 years earlier. The brothers even appeared on the Leonard Nimoy-hosted show, In Search Of…
(Image of a 1960’s era Body Glove surfing team wearing their sponsor’s famous wetsuits, from left to right Mike Purpus, Robert August, Rich Chew, and Rick Irons, courtesy of bodyglove.com)
Other surfing-related posts on Obit of the Day:
Michael Petersen (great story)
Sion Milorsky (great pic)
Larry Stevenson (skateboard pioneer, but surfing-related)