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Jim Stewart

Discussion in 'Passings' started by Sam Miller III, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
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    Friend , diving companion and confidante
    Passes at 90
    Last member of the famed Bottom Scratchers

    Pioneer and Early Dive Expert


    James Stewart was born in 1927 and his diving career began before there was scuba. In 1941 at the age of 14 in La Jolla Cove in San Diego,

    California James first borrowed a friend's mask and put his head under water and started free diving. This is when free diving and spear fishing soon replaced swimming and surfing. He quickly became a very accomplished free diving spear fisherman as a junior in high school. The following year became a life guard.

    James was drafted in the final year of World War II and went into the Army Air Corps in Nome, Alaska. Upon returning home he was invited to join the Bottom Scratchers, the nation's first dive club in 1951. This exclusive club was by invitation only and only had seventeen members. James was
    Jim_Stewart_2001.jpg


    the youngest. Initiation requirements included including collecting three abalones in 30 feet of water in one breath, bringing in a six foot shark by the tail, and catching a ten pound lobster. Scuba was not allowed.

    California James first borrowed a friend's mask and put his head under water and started free diving. This is when free diving and spear fishing soon replaced swimming and surfing. He quickly became a very accomplished free diving spear fisherman as a junior in high school. The following year became a life guard.

    His scuba diving career began in 1951. The equipment was a converted oxygen regulator from an Army Air Corps bomber. This was only two years
    after the first Cousteau/Gagnan Aqua-Lungs arrived in the U.S. Since there were not scuba diver training programs, Stewart learned like everyone else then ... through trial-and-error, sharing knowledge between divers and pure luck. This background made him extremely conscious of the need for polished diver training programs and diver safety programs. He became a pioneer and expert in this field.

    His academic background is as a Marine Biologist, receiving his Bachelors Degree in Botany from Pomona College in 1953 and his Teaching Credential from San Diego State University in 1958. He studied marine botany at the graduate level, both at USC and the University of Hawaii.

    In 1952 Stewart began his long and productive association with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Connie Limbaugh and Dr. Andy Rechnitzer developed the diving program at Scripps. Limbaugh recruited Stewart as a volunteer in the Scripps program. He helped in research and diver training. The Scripps diver training program was just to train scientific divers with scuba. But it paved the way for many sport and scientific diver training programs throughout the world.

    Los Angeles County sent Bev Morgan, Al Tillman and Ramsey Parks through the Scripps scuba diver training program. They in turn, with a lot of help from Limbaugh, Rechnitzer and Stewart, set up the first sport diver training program in 1953: the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Association. Stewart has been Technical Advisor to the Los Angeles County Program and NAUI from the start.

    In 1955 Stewart was hired part time by Scripps to work on a kelp study, sponsored by Kelco. The company harvests help and processes it into over 200 commercial products.

    Jim Stewart traveled to Enewitok and Bikini in 1955 with a Scripps research team. This was the site of atomic and hydrogen bomb tests. Stewart conducted studies on the affects of the nuclear blasts and fallout on marine life. He joined the Scripps staff full time in 1957.

    Also in the 1950s, Stewart and Dr. Andy Rechnitzer recorded the sounds of humpback whales in the Channel Islands off Southern California. This was during the first diving research cruise, using the 100-foot vessel Orca.

    As part of his responsibilities, Stewart was to collect fish species for research and the Scripps Aquarium. He developed a technique of using hypodermic needles to remove gas from the swim bladders of deep diving fish. This allowed them to adjust the surface pressure and remained alive.

    In 1959 Stewart, Limbaugh and Dr. Wheeler North discovered the amazing underwater sandfalls at Cabo San Lucas. They worked together to film and produced the film, Rivers of Sand, which won many awards at film festivals throughout the world.

    Tragically, in 1960 Conrad Limbaugh was killed in a cave diving accident in France. Jim Stewart was named to succeed his close friend as Diving Officer at Scripps.

    Stewart was instrumental in further developing the formal training program at Scripps and established diving standards. This was formalized in the original University Guide For Diving Safety written by Jim Stewart. Published in 1960, this created a means for establishing reciprocal diving programs throughout the University of California system. This first university diving safety manual included rules on training, dive procedures, maintenance and record keeping. Many universities and colleges across the country have adopted this manual.

    As Diving Officer at Scripps, Stewart heads the nation's oldest and largest non-governmental research diving program. He has also managed the Scripps Research Diving Program, which has become the model for safe and effective conduct of international research diving programs. He has supervised a yearly average of 130 faculty, staff and students who have amassed more than 100,000 dives.

    Stewart has shared his diving knowledge, training methods and safety procedures with sport diver training organizations. And he has lectured throughout the world on diver training, scientific diving and diving operations.

    As part of his responsibilities as Diving Officer, Stewart has been diving in most parts of the world in support of research projects at Scripps. This has included the South Pacific, under the ice in Antarctic, all along the eastern Pacific Coastline clear up to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, the Indian Ocean and several other locations.

    In 1961, while doing diving research off Canton Island, Stewart was attacked by a gray reef shark. He was hit twice on the right elbow. It was

    Jim_stewart_shark_bite.jpg a very bad bite, cutting the joint capsule and two arteries. Because of his considerable diving experience and the rather brave help of his friend Ron Church, Stewart was able to get away from the shark. Stewart had to be flown clear back to Hawaii, the closest hospital to handle such emergencies. He lived to joke about it, probably because he was destined for greater contributions to diving.

    In 1962 Jim Stewart was part of the safety team on the Hannes Keller 1,000-foot Dive off Catalina. When an accident forced Keller and his dive partner, Peter Small, back into the diving bell, Dick Anderson and Jim
    Whittaker were able to clear a fin out of the hatch and seal it for decompression. Anderson signaled Whittaker to surface and have the bell raised. But the bell would not rise. Anderson surfaced to discover Whittaker was not there. Jim Stewart and Dave Wells immediately dove to correct the problem, which was in the counterweight winch system. They were able to clear it, but were sucked up in the turbulent water that pulled Wells' watch right off his wrist. The bell surfaced, Keller recovered, Small died and Whittaker was never found.

    Jim Stewart was a Saturation Diver on the Westinghouse Project 600. This operation was a record saturation dive with the Cachalot Diving Bell System to 600 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The Saturation Divers breathed a 95-5 helium-oxygen mixed-gas. The project was a success, including the 62-hour decompression.

    He was part of a research dive team in 1967 that discovered the Japanese ships at Truk Lagoon. Their research ship had anchored there to ride out a typhoon. Thousands of sport divers have since made dives on this massive underwater grave site and seen the spectacular marine life through crystal-clear water.

    He is Technical Consultant for the Division of Polar Programs for the National Science foundation. In 1969 he made his first of hundreds of dives under the Antarctic ice. The water temperature is a constant 28.5 degrees

    Over his many years at Scripps, Stewart has been a key part of countless diving operations: both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; the Gulf of Mexico; surveying effects of nuclear blasts at Enewitok; diving under the Arctic and Antarctic ice; Safety Diver for the Hannes Keller 1,000-foot Dive; the Mediterranean Sea; and other areas.

    In addition, Stewart has worked well with the scientific field, conducting dives in submersibles, and in studying submarine canyons and deep water fishes.

    Stewart is on the NAUI Advisory Board, the San Diego County Coroner's Scuba Committee and many other groups.

    He serves as a Diving Consultant to the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, FBI, U.S. Army Special Forces, National Park Service and many universities.


    [​IMG]

    The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Marine Technicians Handbook, Procedures for Shipboard Diving: The University Guide for Diving Safety for the International Legends of Diving. Project to preserve this original document for dive training, in cooperation with James R. Stewart, revised in 1971 by the author. Read the original dive manual here.

    Source www.ledgens of diving.com Jim Stewart
    Offical obituary to be posted later
     
  2. iamrushman

    iamrushman Great White

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    "Initiation requirements included including collecting three abalones in 30 feet of water in one breath, bringing in a six foot shark by the tail, and catching a ten pound lobster. Scuba was not allowed."

    that is some initiation requirements.

    sorry for your loss and condolences to his friends, family, and colleagues..
     
    northernone likes this.
  3. covediver

    covediver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Alaska
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    I recall the stories that Dennis Divins, the late-Diving Officer at UCSB, would tell about James Stewart. First time I heard them I thought he was talking about the actor. Another icon has passed.
     
  4. Blair Mott

    Blair Mott Dive Equipment Manufacturer

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    What an amazing career, with so many contributions, from an undoubtedly amazing human being that our community and the world have so much to thank for. I do my best to keep up with diving history and have been blessed to meet and hang out with some of the greats, but somehow Mr. Stewart escaped me. What drew me to a career in the sea was initially science. Now, after all these years I know who to thank for inventing the technique for safely bringing “up” the fish collected from the deep (removing the gas from the swim bladders) – that really struck me “He’s the GUY“ wow!

    It seems he had a continual passion to advance our understanding of the ocean, its inhabitants, and how to safely work in it. Sam, thank you for the excellent post, reading it has inspired me; my condolences go out to you, the family and all the friends.

    Here is to us all “giving” more and finding that to be our most enriching activity!

    Rest in Peace Jim Stewart.
     
  5. northernone

    northernone Great White Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    Saddened by his passing. Thank you for reflecting on his life.

    Respectfully,
    Cameron
     
  6. LACounty4806

    LACounty4806 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    Jim Stewart, Scripps diver who led scientists into the deep blue sea, dies at 89

    Pioneering waterman Jim Stewart's training methods at Scripps Institution of Oceanography saved lives and led to new discoveries.

    Jim Stewart, a courageous Scripps Institution of Oceanography diver-educator who helped open the world’s oceans to scientists in the 1950s and ’60s by training them to use some of the first scuba equipment, has died. He was 89.

    Stewart died from natural causes on Wednesday in Irvine, according to Scripps.

    During a career that lasted five decades, he helped to design and carry out some of the most rigorous training ever done for scuba gear, which revolutionized science and military diving after it debuted in the United States in the late 1940s.

    Jacques Cousteau and Émile Gagnan created the so-called aqualung underwater breathing device to enable divers to roam the deep without being tethered to air hoses attached to boats. The device was a godsend to Stewart, who had spent much of his childhood free-diving and spearfishing in the marine wonderland that is La Jolla Cove.

    He would later spend 30 years as dive officer at Scripps, where he trained thousands of divers and did pioneering underwater exploration in the Channel Islands and the submarine canyon off the Scripps Pier. He also descended 600 feet in a saturation bell — 100 feet more than the height of the tallest skyscraper in San Diego.

    In 1962, Stewart helped to rescue famed Swiss deep diver Hannes Keller, who got into trouble after descending 1,000 feet in a diving bell off Santa Catalina Island.

    Historians also note that Stewart explored an underwater crater in the Pacific only days after it was hit by a hydrogen bomb, and he helped to standardize the protocol for safe dives in the Antarctic.

    “Among scientific and technical divers, Jim Stewart enjoys the status that Chuck Yeager has among professional pilots,” San Diego dive historian Eric Hanauer wrote in a 1999 book about diving pioneers. “… he organized it, standardized it and spread that knowledge around the country and around the world. In the process, he made a lot of history and had a lot of fun.”

    Hanauer repeated that sentiment on Thursday, adding: “Jim was a diver’s diver.”

    Stewart also was praised on Thursday by Paul Dayton, a veteran Scripps researcher who knew him well. Dayton said instead of projecting a macho attitude, Stewart “respected scientists and the fact that young student scientists were not the reincarnation of Navy divers, but very smart students who may have just been ‘OK’ in the water. Jim’s goal was NOT to make scientists out of macho divers but to make SAFE divers of good scientists.”

    Cary Humphries, a dive-boat captain in San Diego, said “Jim was always willing to lend a hand, no matter the situation. On research trips, he’d be the senior diver. But he didn’t want to be waited on. He’d go into the galley and wash dishes. He always wanted to help.”

    James Ronald Stewart was born on Sept. 5, 1927 in National City, the son of Pearl Harriet Alexander and Andrew Charles Stewart.

    He fell in love with the ocean early, as he told interviewer Ron Rainger during a discussion in 2000. Stewart keenly remembered fishing with his father from the Scripps Pier.

    “When he’d catch a fish, I would take a look at it and run up to the old Scripps aquarium and see what that fish was,” Stewart recalled. “Little did I think I would spend 50 years of my life here.”

    A turning point occurred on Memorial Day in 1941, when he took a date to La Jolla Cove. They ran into one of Stewart’s junior high school friends, who claimed to have a face mask for looking into the sea.

    Stewart told Rainger: “I put his mask on, and I could see under water. Well, the next week I had me a face mask, and that’s how it all started.”

    He became an accomplished spear fisherman, and he was later invited to join the elite San Diego Bottom Scratchers free-diving club, which deepened his passion for the ocean.

    Stewart learned the fundamentals of scuba diving in 1951 and became a volunteer at Scripps the following year, where he worked with pioneering divers Connie Limbaugh and Andy Rechnitzer.

    He was soon helping with diver training and expanded his involvement into research, exploring kelp beds off the California coast.

    In the mid-1950s, Stewart helped to explore and evaluate Pacific atolls that had been the sites of hydrogen bomb tests. He joined Scripps full time in 1957, and was with Limbaugh and researcher Wheeler North in 1959 when the trio discovered underwater sandfalls off Cabo San Lucas. The finding was the subject of the award-winning documentary “Rivers of Sand.”

    Tragedy struck a year later, in 1960, when Limbaugh died during a cave diving accident. Stewart succeeded him as Scripps’ dive officer.

    A second tragedy nearly occurred in 1961. Stewart was attacked by a shark off Wake Island. A colleague got him to shore and flagged down a dump truck, which took Stewart to a hospital. The attack was an odd counterpoint to the work Stewart had done in testing shark repellents.

    Stewart experienced his share of good fortune, notably in 1967, when he was at Truk Lagoon in the Pacific.

    “We went in there because we had the tail end of a typhoon and we needed a place to hide,” Stewart told Rainger. “So we ran in there, and just happened to anchor in the old Japanese harbor, masts sticking out. We went out and looked at that, and there were all kinds of artifacts on the bottom. That was fun.”

    Two years later, he was making his first dives beneath the ice in Antarctica, an experience he compared to floating above the Grand Canyon during a 1991 interview with the San Diego Tribune.

    “It’s almost like you’re going to fall; the water is very, very clear. You don’t really have a concept of being in water,” he said. “You shine a beam of light and there’s nothing to back-scatter. You don’t see the beam of light; you are what it hits. It’s amazing.”

    Stewart continued to dive for decades, experiencing adventure after adventure.

    “Sit down with him over a beer and you will be treated to diving history, told vividly by someone who made it and lived it,” Hanauer said of Stewart in his book, “Diving Pioneers.”

    “But his greatest legacy is his students, and the students of those he has trained. No one else has influenced more diving leaders, directly and indirectly, both in the world of scientific and sport diving.”

    Stewart is survived by wife of 64 years, Joan; his son Craig; his daughter Meredith; and four grandchildren.


    Privacy Policy
    Copyright © 2017, The San Diego Union-Tribune

    Link to San Diego UT Obituary
     
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  7. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
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    More on Jim..


    stand corrected Jim was 89
    Obituary from SIO....

    Photo Gallery
    James “Jim” Ronald Stewart, chief diving officer emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, died June 7 in Irvine, Calif. at the age of 89.

    Stewart was a renowned diving expert and had been affiliated with Scripps Oceanography since 1952. As diving officer from 1960 until his retirement in 1991, he managed the nation's oldest and largest nongovernmental research diving program, which became the model for safe and effective conduct of international research diving programs. (View Photo Gallery.)

    “Jim was a true pioneer and a giant to those of us that work in the ocean realm,” said Christian McDonald, current scientific diving safety officer at Scripps. “He was a mentor to generations of divers, diving scientists, and diving safety professionals around the world. I, and so many others, find it a great privilege to have learned from and to count Jim as a good friend.”

    Born Sept. 5, 1927, Stewart was a native of San Diego and began diving in 1941—before the use of scuba. At the age of 14, he first borrowed a friend's dive mask at La Jolla Cove. He put his head under water, started freediving, and quickly became a very accomplished freediving spear fisherman in high school. Stewart was drafted in the final year of World War II and went into the Army Air Corps in Nome, Alaska. Upon returning home in 1951, he became a member of the Bottom Scratchers, the world’s oldest freediving club. Stewart was the youngest member of the exclusive club, which changed the sport of breath-hold diving and revolutionized the use of equipment such as facemasks, fins, and spearfishing guns.

    Stewart received a bachelor of arts degree from Pomona College in 1953 and his general teaching credentials from San Diego State College in 1958. In addition, he studied marine botany at the graduate level at the University of Southern California and University of Hawaii.

    In the early 1950s, Stewart was one of a dozen individuals at Scripps who began developing training procedures and data collecting techniques that would allow scientists to use diving as a means of conducting underwater research. During the early 1960s, he developed the original University Guide for Diving Safety, which created a means for establishing reciprocal research diving programs throughout the University of California system and various state and federal agencies.

    Stewart was a legendary presence at Scripps and within the larger diving community. While conducting research diving off Wake Island (North Pacific Ocean) in 1961, Stewart was attacked by a gray reef shark. Hit twice on the right elbow, the bites cut the joint capsule and two arteries. With his diving experience and the aid of friend Ron Church, he was able to escape and avoid further injuries. He was flown to a Hawaiian hospital and eventually made a full recovery.

    Stewart directed and participated in numerous kelp bed field projects in which he trained staff and students in the art of kelp bed diving, which was a true passion of his. He once said, “If you've ever swum through a kelp bed, it's kind of like swimming through a forest, one of the more beautiful places you'll ever be.”

    His work on such projects led to many shipboard diving and collecting trips for the University of California. The scientific community recognizes Stewart as an expert on the interactions of divers and the marine environment, including marine mammals.

    Since 1967, Stewart was responsible for the training and evaluation of all scientists, regardless of nationality, conducting research diving in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans under the auspices of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, a position he maintained even after his retirement from Scripps.

    In addition to the Arctic and Antarctic, Stewart dived throughout much of the world, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and Mediterranean Sea.

    Stewart served as a consultant to NASA, for which he participated in the development of techniques used in the underwater training of astronauts for extravehicular activity. In the mid-1990s, he formed a national committee to evaluate the engineering concepts necessary for creating a wet training facility for the international space station.

    Jim’s accolades were numerous and include the AAUS Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement (2001), the inaugural Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award for Scientific Diving Leadership from the AAUS (2001), the Roger Revelle Trophy from the San Diego Oceans Foundation (2001), induction as one of the first members of the National Association of Underwater Instructors Hall of Honor (2000), the National Conservation Award from the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (1992), and election to the Diving Hall of Fame, concurrent with being honored with the first Pioneer Award, from the Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association (1991).

    In 2003, in honor of his years as diving officer for the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names conferred the name "Stewart Peak" on a 1,097-meter mountain in Antarctica in his honor.

    Stewart was a member of the State of California Parks and Recreation Department Board on Underwater Parks and Reserves, the Coroner’s Expert Committee on Diving Related Deaths, the Scuba Advisory Committee for National Cooperation in Aquatics, the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) Advisory Committee, and the San Diego/La Jolla Underwater Park Board. In addition, he served as diving consultant to the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, FBI, U.S. Army Special Forces, National Park Service, and many universities nationwide. He was the last surviving member of the Bottom Scratchers.

    Stewart is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan, son Craig, daughter Meredith, and four grandchildren.

    Memorial services will be held at a later date.

    Colleagues wishing to express condolences are invited to submit messages for web posting to scrippsnews@ucsd.edu.
    SDM
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    More on my friend Jim

    Deeper Waters: 87-Year-Old Diver and Shark Enthusiast Stays Active

    Posted on September 19, 2014 by Michele Macmartin

    Atria Woodbridge resident James S., aka “California James.” At age 14, he took his first free dive in La Jolla Cove near San Diego and received an invitation to join the San Diego Bottom Scratchers, the nation’s oldest and most exclusive skin diving club. Skin diving is also called free-diving or breath-hold underwater diving. Initiation requirements for the Bottom Scratchers included collecting three abalones (sea shells) in 30 feet of water on just one breath, bringing in a six-foot shark by the tail and catching a 10-pound lobster.

    “I was the youngest and last member initiated into the club,” said James. “The initiation test was quite challenging but I completed all of the tasks. And, I ate the lobster.”

    In 1952, James began his scuba diving career when he joined Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Because there were no scuba diver training programs at the time, he learned scuba through trial and error and by sharing knowledge with others divers. Soon, he became a pioneer and expert in the field. The Scripps diver training program was intended to train scientific divers with scuba. However, it paved the way for many sport and scientific diver training programs used today throughout the world.

    “If something has never been done before, then it is pretty easy,” said James. “You get to make your own mistakes and you never have to tell anyone about it. And of course, you never make the same mistake twice.”

    jim-stewart-1-jpg.413295.jpg

    Looking back on his career, James conquered many obstacles including surviving a shark attack, diving under Arctic and Antarctic ice and surveying effects of nuclear blasts at Enewetak Atoll in the North Pacific. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names named a 1,097-meter mountain in Antarctica to honor Jim’s years as a diving officer for the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs.

    jim-stewart-3-1-jpg.413296.jpg

    Today at age 87, not much has changed for James since he retired. That includes his can-do attitude, which he continually applies to new challenges every day.

    “I stay active by continuing to dive along the Channel Islands in Southern California alone and as a guide, giving lectures to diving groups, hunting, fishing, mountain climbing and watching my son surf at the beach whenever I have the chance,” said James.

    “James is an inspiration to all who know him,” said Holly Clark-Harreld, Engage Life Director at Atria Woodbridge. “He is a very positive person and stays physically and socially active at the community on a daily basis. He attends happy hours and takes scenic rides to the beach, and also takes long walks around the community.”

    When asked what advice James would give to others about the importance of staying active, he said, “Just do it! If you feel you can do it, just do it!

    Click image to enlarge view
     
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  8. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Another one of my idols as a teenager has left us. I had an opportunity to see him speak at a seminar in 1969. RIP Mr. Stewart.
     
  9. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
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    Akimbo

    Jim was a true diver -- one of a kind....with so many accomplishments

    Currently we who knew him, socialized with him and dove with him are sharing stories from the past--That is were the last two post came from

    Such a great loss a pioneer from the very genesis of diving.

    And so few taking the time to read the posts..

    All to soon with the passing of the first and greatest generation diving history will degenerate in to I suppose, I think, I was told, I heard, all devoid of facts-- in many instances it has

    SDM
     
  10. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Please take notes and share. It would be a shame if these first-person recollections about such a central force in scientific diving were lost to history.
     
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