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Muskegon remembers the 'Grandfather of the snowboard'

Sherm Poppen invented the Snurfer, which eventually evolved into the snowboard.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — They call him the grandfather of the snowboard.

Friday night in Muskegon, people were remembering the life and contributions of Sherm Poppen. He died this summer in Georgia at the age of 89.

During his life he was a major presence in his hometown of Muskegon. He was a businessman who shared success with employees, a philanthropist, civil rights activist and supporter of the arts. But he is best known for inventing the Snurfer in 1965. He bolted two small skis together for his young daughters to play with in the snow, and it led to development of the snowboard.

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“If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, everyone in town had one of his creations called the Snurfer,” says historian Ron Pesch. “Sherm created what he referred to as a toy, but in reality, it was an industry.”

Poppen is already a member of the Muskegon Sports Hall of Fame. Next year in Sun Valley, Idaho he will be inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.


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