Santa Cruz surf pioneer Jack O'Neill dies at 94

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- One of the most influential people in the history of surfing has died. Jack O'Neill transformed the sport 65 years ago when he created the first neoprene wetsuit at his small surf shop at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

O'Neill would eventually move to Santa Cruz, where he built a surfing and apparel empire from his shop on 41st Avenue.

A few years back, he spoke about his life in a video on his company's website. "I was thinking I was going to have a surf shop down at the beach and have a few friends. I never dreamed anything like this would happen," he said.

O'Neill was known for his down-to-earth demeanor and trademark eye-patch that covered an eye he lost while surfing.

He was 94 years old.
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