Walter Frederick Morrison (January 23, 1920 – February 9, 2010)

On June 17, 1957, Wham-O Inc. changed the name of the Pluto Platter to Frisbee, which disturbed Walter “Fred” Morrison, the inventor of the world-famous disc, who thought the new sobriquet would never fly.

“I thought Frisbee was a terrible name,” Morrison, now 87, said. “I thought it was insane.”

On Tuesday, February 10th, in Monroe, Utah, Morrison died at the age of 90.

Utah House Rep. Kay McIff, an attorney who represented Morrison in a royalties case, says Morrison died at his home. McIff is from Richfield, Morrison’s original hometown.

“That simple little toy has permeated every continent in every country, as many homes have Frisbees as any other device ever invented,” McIff said. “How would you get through your youth without learning to throw a Frisbee?”

Morrison’s son, Walt, relayed to The Associated Press Thursday that “old age caught up” with his father and that he also had cancer.

“He was a nice guy. He helped a lot of people,” Walt Morrison said. “He was an entrepreneur. He was always looking for something to do.”

Morrison sold the rights to his “Pluto Platter” in 1957 to the Wham-O corporation. The plastic flying disc was later renamed the “Frisbee,” with sales surpassing 200 million discs. It is now a staple at beaches and college campuses across the country and spawned sports like Frisbee golf and the team sport Ultimate.

An official disc golf course at Creekside Park in the Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay is named for Morrison.

In 2001, Morrison co-wrote a book with Frisbee enthusiast and historian Phil Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, Morrison used to toss a tin cake pan on the beach in California with his future wife, Lu,. The idea evloved as Morrison considered ways to make the cake pans fly better. After serving as a pilot in World War II, Morrison began manufacturing his flying discs in 1948.

He would hawk the discs at local fairs and eventually attracted Wham-O Manufacturing.

Kennedy says Wham-O adopted the name “Frisbee” because that’s what college students in New England were calling the Pluto Platters. The name came from the Frisbie Pie Co., a local bakery whose empty tins were tossed like the soon-to-be named Frisbee.

Walt Morrison said his father is survived by three children. The family is planning a service for Morrison’s friends and relatives Saturday at the Cowboy Corral in Elsinore.

Fame and fortune from a flip

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