Jake Burton Carpenter, Who Ushered in Snowboarding as a Sport, Dies at 65


Mr. Carpenter was born on April 29, 1954, in Manhattan. His father, Edward, was an investment banker, and his mother, Katherine (Eaton) Carpenter, was a homemaker. About the same time he was Snurfing, Jake was expelled from the private Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., after being involved in a prank in which a janitor found in his possession a secret strong box, passed down through generations of students, that held the key to every lock in the school.

“I had this reputation for being so lucky — I never got caught doing anything — and then it all sort of caved in on me, and I got kicked out,” he told Snowboarder magazine in 2000.

He righted himself at another prep school, and after graduating got his first taste of entrepreneurship, starting a landscaping business with two rakes, an old station wagon and some garbage bags.

After one year at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he left for New York University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. While working for an investment firm in Manhattan, he crafted his first snowboard prototype in his apartment using a saber saw and wood.

After moving to Londonderry, he made snowboards in a barn during the day and tended bar at night. A turning point came when he sold his 700th board.

“All of a sudden, there was a hint of momentum,” he told Snowboarder.

That momentum continued to build, making Burton the top snowboard maker.

Health issues intervened in later years. He received his first diagnosis of testicular cancer in 2011. Four years later he was temporarily paralyzed with Miller Fisher syndrome, a type of Guillain-Barré syndrome. He spent six weeks in intensive care using a feeding tube and a ventilator.

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