Walter Frederick Morrison, 90, inventor of the plastic version of the flying disc, passed away on February 9, 2010. He was 90-years old — or 19 in dog years. Every kid who has ever thrown a disc in a park owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Morrison for his foresight. But many dogs owe him much more. You see, the ubiquitous flying disc — known to many as the Frisbee — is much more than a toy to millions of eager canines. It is, a profound source of joy, an object of desire, and the glue that has cemented the bond between canine and human for decades. Morrison may not have realized, as he hawked his plastic discs on California beaches, that canines would come to revere the plastic flying disc even more than humans. Today, no person of reasonable intelligence would deny this truism.
Morrison led an unusual life that is not well known to most enthusiasts of the flying disc. His interest in flying objects was likely accelerated by his experiences as a pilot during World War II. At one point, Morrison was even shot down and held as a prisoner of war for eight weeks. Although Morrison is often credited with the invention of the flying disc, that credit more properly belongs to students at Yale University who adapted metal pie tins from the Frisbie Pie Company for campus throwing games. Morrison plasticized and popularized the flying disc and initiated the fad that would introduce the world to the plastic flying toy that would soon become know as the “Frisbee.” Morrison’s 1957 sale of the rights to his plastic flying disc invention to the Wham-O toy company put the toy in the hands of a company with the means to promote the toy worldwide. Thus, the trademarked name “Frisbee,” once applied to Morrison’s invention, became primed to enter our lexicon and the hearts and mouths of our canines. Indeed, for decades the canine version of Frisbee sports was known to all of us as “Canine Frisbee” and Mr. Morrison’s creation was nothing less than a beloved object of affection for our canines.