Body Glove Co-Founder and Wetsuit Pioneer Passes at 84 | Sport Diver

Body Glove Co-Founder and Wetsuit Pioneer Passes at 84

Bob Meistrell

Bob Meistrell, who began making wetsuits for surfers and divers in the early 1950s and with his twin brother, Bill, founded Body Glove, one of the world’s largest wetsuit companies, died on Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Catalina, Calif. He was 84 and lived in Redondo Beach.

Mr. Meistrell died after having a heart attack while working on his boat, Jenna Meistrell, a grandniece and Body Glove’s communications director, said. Meistrell was on his boat, The Disappearance, coming back from Catalina as the lead boat in the Rock 2 Rock Paddleboard Race.

Meistrell and his brother, both avid divers and surfers, worked with Beverly Morgan, their partner in Dive N' Surf Inc., a dive and surf shop in Redondo Beach, to create more comfortable wetsuits made out of neoprene, a durable but flexible synthetic rubber that is still widely used for wetsuits today.

The brothers bought out Mr. Morgan in 1957. They named their company Body Glove in 1965. Body Glove produced some of the first custom-made wetsuits. Body Glove is still family-owned.

Robert Fischer Meistrell was born on July 31, 1928, in Boonville, Mo., the youngest of seven siblings. The family moved to California when the twins were 16, and they became Los Angeles County lifeguards before investing in the surf shop.

Bob and his twin brother Bill, who passed away in 2006, helped to create the "Surf Culture," which changed the world, beginning with their designing, manufacturing and selling of the first commercially viable neoprene wetsuits. Bob and Bill are two of only three watermen to be inducted into the Surfers and Divers Hall of Fame.Both Bob and Bill were very involved in protecting the ocean since the 1950s. Bob was also extremely passionate about doing trips on The Disappearance to raise money for the Switzer Center. The brothers are shown together at left when they were LA County Lifeguards in the late 1940s. This picture is being turned into a bronze statue by Chris Barella and will be unveiled in September.

"This year, Body Glove International celebrates its 60 Year Anniversary, and Bob and Bill's presence will be deeply missed," the company says on its website. "Bob and his brother Bill will always be remembered as true waterman, honest businessmen, loving fathers, and overall legends."

In lieu of sending flowers, the Meistrell family asks that you make a donation to one of these three organizations:

Switzer Center

Reef Check

Ocean Futures Society

Bob leaves behind his sons Robbie, Ronnie and Randy, nine grandchildren, Tracey, Matt, Jamie, Nick, Kenna, Robert, Randi, Rhoni and Makayla, and two great-grandchildren, Mia and Maddox. He also leaves behind his wife Patty of 62 years (Bob and Patty are pictured at left).