Make Frisbees using the Inventor's Ashes
JIM ZAMORA / SF Chronicle 13aug02
'Steady Ed' Headrick told his family
Just before he died, the creator of the game of Frisbee golf said he wanted his ashes to be mixed into new versions of the famous plastic disc and his family hopes these limited-edition Frisbees could be sold to help fund a museum in his honor.
Edward "Steady Ed" Headrick made his wishes clear to his family in the weeks before his death at 3:30 a.m. Monday at his home in Santa Cruz , his son Dr. Daniel Headrick said today.
"For years, he used to joke about saying he wanted to live on as a Frisbee, " Daniel Headrick said of his father. "We always thought he was joking. But he made it clear he was serious. He wanted us to use his ashes in making some Frisbees. He even said he hopes we throw them around in his honor."
The details of the tribute Frisbees and plans for a museum are still being worked out.
"Thousands of people want their ashes to float around the oceans and nobody thinks anything is weird about that," his son said. "If he wanted his remains to be used in plastic discs that is really no different."
Headrick, 78, died from complications resulting from two strokes he suffered July 22 while attending the Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur World Championships in Miami, his son said.
He is considered the father of disc golf, which involves throwing a Frisbee into a metal cage, a sport now played by millions, according to Freestyle Frisbee Association's Web site.
Headrick's association with the well-known flying disc began in the 1950s when he joined with Arthur "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr, founders of Wham-O, Inc., a firm now based in Emeryville. Wham-O was already famous as inventor of the Hula Hoop.
Wham-O sold its first Frisbee, originally called the "Pluto Platter," in 1957, to satisfy America's obsession with flying saucers. In 1964, Headrick invented a "Pro Model" Frisbee, for decades the firm's best-selling model.
In the 1970s, Headrick created the sport of disc golf. In 1982, Headrick left Wham-O to promote sports that use Frisbees.
Headrick worked hard to encouragepeople to keep hurling Frisbees long after they passed their teenage years, his son said.
"Dad saw it as a playful sport that anyone could play," Daniel Headrick said. "It wasn't just a thing for kids."
For years, Headrick has donated disc golf equipment to a number of recreational programs for underprivileged youth.
"He lived for Frisbee," said Suzy Melin, the widow of Wham-O co-founder Melin. "Ed Headrick was a big promoter of ultimate Frisbee. He was passionate about everything Frisbee."
Headrick was cremated Monday night, along with a few of his favorite Frisbees. He is survived by his wife, Farina, three sons, a daughter and 11 grandchildren, all of whom play Frisbee.
He did not want a funeral. But last week while he was seriously ill his family held a big party for him.
"He didn't want the party to happen after he died," his son said. "He believed if we were going to celebrate his life he wanted to be there."
Now his family is trying to figure out how they can carry out his last wishes.
"We really don't know how we are going to transform his ashes into Frisbees, " Daniel Headrick said. "It's something we never really thought about during his lifetime."
It's not clear how Wham-O, Inc., feels about Headrick's desire to have his remains used in some of their flying discs. Headrick's family has not yet contacted the company, which did not return phone calls Tuesday.
"My father would be really happy if we actually played Frisbee with his remains," Danny Headrick said. "He said he wanted to end up in a Frisbee that accidentally lands on someone's roof."
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