Soaring to New Heights for Frisbee Inventor’s Final Sendoff

by P-Francone

Steady Ed Headrick putting with a Frisbee at a Mach1 Basket during a game of disc golf.

Have you ever used a Frisbee? If you have, then you’re quite familiar with “Steady” Ed Headrick’s famed invention. The father of Frisbee and Disc Golf also invented the first disk golf basket, designed and installed the first Disk Golf course, founded the International Frisbee Association, Disc Golf Association, Professional Disc Golf Association and the Recreational Disk Golf Association. In addition to all this, he established and organized the first World Frisbee Championship and the Junior World Frisbee Championships, along with the first Frisbee Disc Golf Tournament in 1979.

The man had a long and full life, and was described by many close to him as not only someone who would think outside the box, but completely reinvent the box at the same time. Previous to his Frisbee days, Ed worked as a deep sea diver/welder and was embedded deep behind enemy lines as an advanced military scout to spy on the Nazis during WWII. He also is credited as the inventor of the oil skimmer, after seeing how much death and destruction oil spills can leave behind.

The Frisbee enthusiast was born in 1924, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when he was working at the Wham-O Corporation that he received his patent for the original Frisbee. He came up with most of his other inventions during this time period, and started traveling the United States donating Disc Golf baskets, installing courses and introducing people to the game.

The man lived and breathed Frisbee, teaching thousands of people how to play Disc Golf, and even making religious comments about the toy, “We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion, Frisbyterians we’d call ourselves. When we die, we don’t go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.” This is exactly what happened to Headrick after he passed away from a stroke while in Miami at a tournament in 2002. His wife followed all of Headrick’s previously laid out sendoff plans, with no religious services taking place, instead his life was celebrated with an open house and a party. He was cremated, and his ashes were molded into plastic Frisbees, allowing him to live on forever with his favorite sport. The discs were given to family and friends, and some were sold, with proceeds going toward the “Steady” Ed Memorial Disc Golf Museum at the PDGA International Golf Center in Columbia County, Georgia (limited quantity of Frisbees are still available on Amazon for $200). Ed’s wife, Farina officially opened the museum by throwing a Frisbee containing some of his ashes onto the roof, in order to allow him to live out his Frisbyterian last rites.

Read more:

The Father of Frisbee and Disc Golf | Disc Golf Association

Frisbee Pioneer aimed for the heavens, San Francisco Chronicle

DGA Steady Ed Memorial discs | Disc Golf Association

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