Body Glove International, LLC is a surf/skateboard/watersports brand started in the United States. Body Glove was founded in 1953 by twin brothers Bill and Bob Meistrell. The brothers invented the first practical wetsuit in the early 1950s in the back of their Redondo Beach, California surf shop, Dive N' Surf. From those wetsuits Body Glove branched out into other product categories, they now make wetsuits, swimsuits, clothing, shoes, life vests, sunglasses, wakeboards, towables, backpacks, phone cases, and snorkeling equipment.
Bill Meistrell, whose synthetic Body Glove wetsuits transformed surfing and deep sea diving, died on Tuesday June at his home here. He was 77.
The cause was Parkinson’s disease, his family said.
As a dive-shop owner in the 1950’s, Mr. Meistrell saw a market for wet suits that were more flexible and lighter than the rigid rubber skins available at the time.
Mr. Meistrell sold his neoprene suits under the name Thermocline until his friend Duke Boyd, founder of the Hang Ten surf brand, urged him to pick a catchier name. Legend has it that Boyd asked Mr. Meistrell what made his wet suits better than what already was available. Mr. Meistrell responded that his suits “fit like a glove.” From then on, the company was called Body Glove.
Mr. Meistrell founded the company with his twin brother, Bob, in 1965. The company, which does more than $200 million a year in business, was an offshoot of a surf shop partnership the brothers bought into for $1,800.
With heavy hearts the Meistrell family is sad to announce the passing of Bob Meistrell, waterman, adventurer and the co-founder of Body Glove International and Dive N’ Surf Inc. He had a wonderful life, and would have been 85 next month. He lived his motto of “Do what you love, love what you do.” until his last day when he was on his boat, The Disappearance. He was coming back from Catalina as the lead boat in the Rock 2 Rock Paddleboard Race.
During the race, The Disappearance had a double engine failure which Bob said has never happened before. Bob, attempting to get the boat up and running again, hurried to the engine room where he suffered a heart attack. His nephew, Steven Lockhart, began administering CPR and called for son Robbie and nephew Billy Meistrell, who were on nearby boats to assist in his resuscitation. When the Baywatch Isthmus arrived, they moved the unresponsive Meistrell up to the boat’s deck and attempted to restart his heart with a defibrillator. After nearly two hours of trying to revive him, Bob Meistrell was pronounced dead.
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. This year Body Glove International celebrates its 60 Year Anniversary, and Bob and Bill’s presence will be deeply missed. Even though they are gone, their stories and adventures will live on in a book “Fits Like a Glove” that will be released this Fall. Bob and his brother Bill, will always be remembered as true waterman, honest businessmen, loving fathers, and overall legends.
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. As Bob always said, “To have a happy marriage, you first need to find a good gal, and second she has to be able to put up with you.” There’s no question Bob and Patty spent every moment of their lives deeply in love with one another.
Further information about memorial services will be posted at a later time.
Both Bob and Bill were very involved in protecting the ocean since the 1950′s. Bob was also extremely passionate about doing trips on The Disappearance to raise money for the Switzer Center. In lieu of sending flowers, we kindly ask you make a donation to one of these three organizations.