Ken A. Jacuzzi, heir of the Jacuzzi brand of hydrotherapy products and advocate for the disabled, passed away last week. He was 75.

"He lived his life with grace and great dignity, and was an honorable humanitarian," said Jacuzzi CEO Bob Rowan. "He was the inspiration of not only the Jacuzzi brand, but an entire industry."

It could be argued that hot tubs, as we know them, would not exist today had it not been for Ken Jacuzzi, whom doctors said would not live to see his third birthday. He was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition that can erode bones and deform joints.

Candido Jacuzzi (standing) and his brothers created this hydrotherapy pump to help alleviate the rheumatoid arthritis of his son, Ken (seated).
Candido Jacuzzi (standing) and his brothers created this hydrotherapy pump to help alleviate the rheumatoid arthritis of his son, Ken (seated).

His rheumatologist recommended soaking in a stainless steel hydrotherapy tank to cope with the pain. This brought the little boy temporary relief and inspired Jacuzzi's father, Candido, an Italian immigrant and inventor, to develop a similar application to use in the home bathtub.

That device was the forebearer of the J-300 hydrotherapy pump that was incorporated into the Jacuzzi whirlpool bath. The product gained national recognition when it was featured as a prize giveaway on the hit 1950s and ’60s TV game show “Queen for a Day.” Today, Jacuzzi Group Worldwide is a household name of in-home baths and portable hot tubs.

The product not only achieved commercial success -- it's credited with saving Ken Jacuzzi's life.

“The hydrotherapy has allowed me to live a normal lifespan, which is pretty amazing when you think about it," Jacuzzi said in a corporate video.

Kenneth A. Jacuzzi was born April 22, 1941 in Oakland, Calif. He received a Masters Degree from the American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Ariz. He worked in Italy for the Jacuzzi Company, where he was involved with manufacturing, marketing and research and development.

A career working for the disabled was marked with many accomplishments, having served the state of Arizona as its director of the Office for Americans with Disabilities. He also published a memoir chronicling his experience growing up with a debilitating condition in a family company that was on the fast-track to becoming a major luxury brand.

Ken Jacuzzi is survived by his wife Daniela, brother John, brother-in-law Giorgio, sister-in-law Alessandra and many nephews and nieces.