In Memory

Edward Early Headrick - Class Of 1942

Edward Early Headrick

Ed Headrick '42, who designed and patented the modern Frisbee, died August 12, 2002 at his home in La Selva Beach, California.  He was 78.

Mr. Headrick accepted a job in 1964 as head of research and development for the Wham-O Manufacturing Company in San Gabriel, CA., and he was assigned the task of figuring out what to do with a warehouse full of unused plastic that had been intended for Hula Hoops, another Wham-O product that came and went quickly.  His idea was to modify the Pluto Platter, a disc toy originally intended for children, into a sport for teenagers and adults.  Walter Frederick Morrison had invented the disc and sold it to Wham-O in 1955.  Mr. Morrison's name is on the patent granted in 1957, and he became rich from Frisbee royalties.

Mr. Headrick added the rings surrounding the top of the Frisbee to enhance stability in flight, as well as perfecting the shape to make it more aerodynamic.  His name is on patent No. 3,359,678, dated December 26, 1967.  His so-called professional model became the modern Frisbee, although the patent document called it a flying saucer.  The game of Frisbee had its roots on the campuses of New England colleges, where the Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut sold pies, and students liked to toss the empty tins.

But Richard Knerr, president of Wham-O, said in an interview in late June that the similarity of the name of Wham-O's disc to the name of the student game was a coincidence.  He said the name came from a comic strip called Mr. Frisbie.

Edward Early Headrick was born in South Pasadena, California on June 28, 1924.  He served in the Army infantry in Europe during World War II and later worked as a deep-sea welder and water heater salesman, among other things.  He knew Arthur Melin, one of the owners of Wham-O, and offered to work free for three months to prove his worth.  He evaluated ideas for new products--some good, like the ultrabouncy Super Ball, and some failures, like Instant Fish, actually a kind of shrimp, which would not lay eggs fast enough.

In 1967, Mr. Headrick founded the International Frisbee Association.  In the early 1970s he created disc golf, which involves throwing a Frisbee-like disc at a metal cage.  About four million people play the sport.

Mr. Headrick asked that his ashes be molded into a limited number of memorial flying discs, which will be distributed to his family and friends, his son Ken told The Santa Cruz Sentinel.

  Post Comment

05/14/11 02:27 PM #1    

Pat Shea (1947)

Thank you ED for helping to bring Disc Golf to all of us. I found the Game when I retired @ the age of sixty five . I am now Eighty Three Years young and play five days a week , it's the best game I know of To help keep me walking and throwing . Thanks again Ed .

  Post Comment