• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Elizabeth Haslam, a diver since she was 81, dies at 94.

Discussion in 'Passings' started by Chad Carney, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. Chad Carney

    Chad Carney Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, FL
    I had the pleasure to meet this adventureous lady about 10 years ago. She came into my dive shop to buy a hood for a trip she was taking to the Galapagos Islands. She was bold enough to go by herself in her middle eighties. She joked, "I'm spending my childrens inheritance money!"

    She was known to dive locally in Clearwater, FL and all over the world for many years.

    She and her husband pioneered one of the largest book stores in the SE United States. It was the only book store to have "The Hell Divers Rodeo" in stock when I first started diving with the Hell Divers back in the early 2000s.

    She was a classy lady, and I wish I had gotten to know her better. I'm sure she had a wealth of stories to tell.



    [SOUTH PINELLAS Edition]

    St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla.
    Date: Jul 17, 2007
    Document Types: OBITUARY
    Text Word Count: 981

    Document Text

    Copyright Times Publishing Co. Jul 17, 2007
    Elizabeth Haslam, who helped build the independent bookstore, dies at 94.

    Elizabeth Haslam had a knack for assessing a book's potential.

    Sellers of children's books, in particular, would come to her store early on their tours to seek her counsel.

    "Then they would go to the next stop along the way and say, 'This is a good book - Elizabeth took five,' " said Ray Hinst, her son-in- law.

    Mrs. Haslam died Monday (July 16, 2007) at the age of 94, but that legacy lives on at Haslam's Book Store, which she helped run for decades.

    A schoolteacher by trade and demeanor, Mrs. Haslam created the children's section and spearheaded hundreds of book fairs for students. She also helped turn Haslam's into what is known as the largest independent bookstore in the Southeast.

    She and her husband, Charles, took over the store in 1947 from his parents, John and Mary Haslam. Always courteous, Mrs. Haslam complemented her sometimes crusty husband, who served a stint as president of the American Booksellers Association. They built the store into a national icon for independent book sellers.

    "They were like yin and yang," Hinst said.

    Their vision persists. In an age of chain stores selling only new books and using the rest of the space for music or lattes, Haslam's used travel books take up an entire wall; language tapes extend to Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Serbo-Croatian; and customers can buy a tattered copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road along with a new John Grisham. An adopted alley cat lounged on a counter on Monday.

    In the 1970s, after relinquishing control of the day-to-day operations, Mrs. Haslam and her husband traveled the world for six weeks at a time, preferring bird watching in the Amazon basin to big cities. Often their trips took them to remote locations where they volunteered as missionaries.

    On a trip to Africa in 1983, the couple spent 26 nights in a tree house and contracted cerebral malaria. Charles Haslam died of the disease. Mrs. Haslam remained an adventurer.

    At age 81, she received certification in scuba diving and over the next several years completed dives in the Red Sea, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and New Guinea, where she was airlifted to a local hospital after contact with a poisonous blowfish.- - -

    The daughter of two teachers, Elizabeth White came to St. Petersburg from Lakeland in 1922. The roads were not paved past Ninth, now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Street, and a land boom was beginning. Money, she once told a newspaper reporter, "didn't go as far as the teachers. But we got along. We had books. I can't remember when I didn't know how to read."

    She graduated from St. Petersburg High and St. Petersburg Junior College, where she got a teaching certificate as the economy was collapsing. She married Charles in 1936. They shared a commitment to Christianity.

    In the 1930s, she taught at Mirror Lake Junior High while Charles managed the hardware section at J.C. Penny's. After World War II, she and her husband moved briefly to Pensacola. They returned at the request of his parents to help with the bookstore.

    As Haslam's grew, so did the children's section. As a third- grader at North Ward Elementary, Mike Slicker remembers when Mrs. Haslam brought new-smelling books to the school for an annual book fair.

    "She couldn't have been nicer," said Slicker, who now owns Lighthouse Books a few blocks from Haslam's.

    Slicker said his respect for Mrs. Haslam only deepened through the years.

    "The truth is, that she was always the backbone of the business," he said.

    By the time Tyrone Square Mall rocked local retail in the late 1960s, nearly putting downtown St. Petersburg businesses on the canvas, everyone had already heard of Haslam's. The store drew authors for book signings from Bennett Cerf to Liberace, not to mention Florida favorites like Tim Dorsey, Randy White and James Hall.

    The same was true of the emerging children's book market and authors Shel Silverstein, Tomie dePaola and Michael Hague, all of whom knew Mrs. Haslam and visited the store.

    Employees remember a woman who dressed professionally and tastefully, who wore just enough makeup and had just the right words to motivate.

    "Instead of asking, 'Would you like to do this?' she would say, 'I have a golden opportunity for you,' " said Martha Coit, 51, a Haslam's staff member. "It would make you feel special."

    - - -

    Mrs. Haslam may be remembered most for the low-brow civility she brought to the store, marked by the 10-cent paperbacks the store still offers. As Hinst put it, "It's hard to be snooty with a 10- cent book."

    She sometimes dismissed authors who wanted to give impromptu lectures about their books, said daughter Suzanne Haslam, 62, who runs the store with her husband, Hinst.

    "She was always kind," Suzanne Haslam said. "But if you were going to go off about something, she didn't have much time for you."

    On Monday, C. Willingham, a retired St. Petersburg police officer, was busy scouting the mystery and true crime sections.

    Willingham, 63, who now lives in Georgia, attended St. Petersburg Junior College. Mrs. Haslam helped him find used textbooks. Later, he came back to find manuals on police procedure. As a cop on the beat, he checked in on her.

    He called her "excellent."

    "She said reading sharpens minds," Willingham said.

    He left with six paperbacks.

    Caption: PHOTO, DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD - Times: Elizabeth Haslam, at age 85, wraps up a dive trip at Clearwater Beach. Certified at 81, she traveled the far seas. PHOTO, BILL SERNE - Times (1983): Elizabeth Haslam was the daughter of teachers and taught school herself. She created the children's section and lined up hundreds of book fairs for students. Children's book authors like Shel Silverstein visited the store.

    Credit: Times Staff Writer
  2. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    People like this are an inspiration. My condolences to her friends and family.

    Back when I was a wee tyke of 29, I ran a 3-week kayak program that involved two weeks of building your own fiberglas kayak and learning about island ecology, and then a paddle around Catalina Island during the third week. Although the program was focused on high schoolers, I once had a participant who was 83 and made the entire trip. It gives me hope for that not too distant future.
  3. Otter

    Otter ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: SoCal (native)
    She certainly seemed to live life to its fullest....

    She proved that the good don't always die young.....

    My condolences....
  4. cdiver2

    cdiver2 Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Safety Harbor (West central) GB xpat
    My wife did a trip to Thailand/live aboard with her and had a great time, she will be sad to hear this news.
  5. shoredivr

    shoredivr Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ontario
    Thanks for posting this tribute, she's quite an inspiration.

Share This Page