2017 PHOF Inductee

Arlen C. Paranto

Contributor

Arlen C. Paranto

CITIZENSHIP: USA

BORN: July 21, 1930, in Mott, North Dakota

DIED: August 31, 2019 at age 89

PLAYED: Right-handed

EDUCATION:

  • Lemmon High School, Lemmon, South Dakota

MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS:

Arlen greatly advanced the sport of pickleball with the development of the first lightweight non-wood composite paddle. As an industrial engineer at Boeing, Arlen was familiar with the use of lightweight panels with nomex honeycomb cores that were used extensively throughout Boeing aircraft interiors. In 1984, Arlen purchased some of these panels through Boeing’s surplus store and fashioned the first lightweight paddles. They were a huge improvement over the wood paddles. Because of player interest, Arlen formed the Ultra-Lite Paddle Company and began making the Pro-Lite line of paddles to fill growing demands for this new product. Ultra-Lite was the second company to make and sell pickleball paddles, but it was the only one with composite paddles for the next 14 years. Within a few short years after the introduction of Pro-Lite paddles, almost all pickleball players in the Pacific Northwest were using them in competition. By 2018, over 100 companies were making composite paddles, and almost all mirrored the construction model of the original Pro-Lite paddles.

Background

During Arlen’s high school years, he participated in football, basketball, and track.  He was an avid fisherman.  In 1984, he caught a 6 lb 9 oz Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) on the Uganik River, Kodiak Island, Alaska, that was listed in The International Game Fish Association World Records Database for line class M-06 kg (12 lb.)  In 1985, Arlen earned a 300 bowling ring in Tacoma, Washington. Other sports activities included skin diving, kayaking, bow hunting, and model boat racing.

Arlen was an inventor and developed a number of items, like a device to eliminate water from seeping into skin diving wetsuits.  He applied for a number of patents for items such as his novelty ball toy for children.  Arlen was an innovator who started a cable TV service for his community in Eatonville, Washington.  He owned a vending machine business selling colognes from Bellingham to Chehalis, Washington, from the 1960s to the 1970s.  He also owned and operated laundry and dry cleaning services in Eatonville and Sumner, Washington for a time.  

Arlen spent most of his working career with The Boeing Company, starting in 1950.  In 1954, he went to Witchita, Kansas, to work on the B52 and met his wife there.  He returned to the Seattle area after six months.  After a number of years, he was named head of the Cost Improvement Program.  Arlen and his wife Johnnie designed and built their Ohop Lake, Eatonville home in Washington, which also included one of the few private home pickleball courts at the time.  In 1985, he was honored as Supervisor of the Year for the Cost Improvement Division and awarded a trip to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.  During the remainder of his career, Arlen worked as an industrial engineer in Boeing’s Fabrication Division.  Arlen retired in 1990 after 39 years with Boeing.

Arlen holding the worlds first composite pickleball paddle. 

Arlen Paranto, the inventor of the first composite paddle, at a State Games of Oregon tournament in the late 1980’s. Arlen, on the left, is with Mike Gayda

Arlen and Steve Paranto in 1984 at their home on Ohop Lake with the first Pro-Lite paddles.

COMPETITION AND AWARDS RECOGNITION:

In the 1970s and 1980s, Arlen played in many pickleball tournaments and won numerous championships.