Legends of Diving Articles


Dr. Sally Bauer has announced her intention to keep the History of Diving Museum open following the April 3, 2007 death of her devoted husband, Dr. Joe Bauer, Jr. The museum is located in the Upper Florida Keys.

Drs. Joseph and Sally Bauer - Founders of the Florida Keys
History of Diving Museum

By Dr. Sam Miller

Before retiring, Joseph A Bauer, Jr. M.D. was a specialist in General, Laser and Colorectal Surgery, and Sally E Bauer, M.D. an Emergency Medicine physician.

Dr. Joe did research at the National Institutes of Health in Transplantation Surgery. Later, he not only devoted his time to his patients, but also brought innovations to various fields of surgery. He developed Surgical and Medical Intensive Care Units and Initiated Surgical Endoscopy procedures in the Cleveland area. Joe envisioned a way to lower the cost of medical care by developing the first freestanding, physician-owned and operated Outpatient Surgical Center of which he was the Managing General Partner. To promote Outpatient Surgery, he developed a number of surgical procedures that produced less pain and more rapid postoperative recovery.

He introduced videoscopic (Laparoscopic) Surgery for gall bladder disease, to the northeastern United States, after studies in Europe. He trained many other physicians in "keyhole" surgery - a common procedure today.

Dr. Sally developed considerable organizational, staff management and logistical skills as an ER physician. Those skills enabled her to help Joe plan, design, build and administer the outpatient surgical centers that became a model for the nation and those skills are now instrumental in the development of the Museum.

During their careers the Bauers pursued avocations as Marine Biologists, SCUBA Divers and as Diving Historians. Their passion was to learn the evolution and history of man's entry into the sea, and to share this largely untold story with others. Their focus and expertise is on the early history of diving and technology, prior to the development of SCUBA. After authoring the Diving Helmet chapter in The Pictorial History of Diving, they were founding members of the International Historical Diving Society of both the United Kingdom and the United States. The Bauers publish professional articles on diving history, based on their basic research of original documents in libraries throughout the world. They have discovered new links in the early progress of diving, which had previously been unrecognized. They are currently working on a book about the "open bottom" or shallow water diving helmets that were the most significant contribution of South Florida and the Keys to the worldwide history of diving.

These helmets fostered the beginnings of modern marine biology and treasure salvage, of underwater photography and initiated the current interest in sports diving.

Over the years, the Bauers have acquired the world's largest collection of Diving Helmets, hand-operated air pumps, armored suits, lights and other accessory gear, plus memorabilia, prints, photographs, books, film and video. The collection represents the contributions of more than 30 countries to diving history and portions have been displayed in museums within the US and out of the country. These considerable historic resources, as well as the Bauer's expertise in their history, will be available to the Museum for its Exhibits and Historical Programs and for educational, lecture and study material.

The Bauer's are devoting their retirement years to providing their extensive collection and the results of their research in diving history for the enjoyment of others. They are determined to apply their considerable enthusiasm, expertise, and their unique collection of historic diving artifacts to establish and successfully operate an international, world-class Museum of Diving History in the Upper Keys.

In Memory of
Dr. Joe A. Bauer, Jr.
By Kenny Wheeler

The worlds diving community has lost a great treasure and friend. Dr. Joe, as he was known, passed away on April 3, 2007.

Dr. Bauer was not a Dive Instructor, nor did he discover any Treasure Galleons. Dr. Joe was a world renowned surgeon, a passionate Diver and Dive Historian. Dr. Joe became famous twice in his life. Dr. Bauer, the surgeon, was a specialist in General, Laser and Colorectal Surgery. Dr. Bauer developed the first free standing, physician-owned and operated Outpatient Surgical Center as a way to reduce medical costs. He developed a number of surgical procedures that led to less pain and much shorter recovery times for patients. Dr. Bauer introduced Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Surgery for gall bladder disease. These procedures and the outpatient clinics are commonplace today.

Dr. Joe, the Diver, and his wife Dr. Sally Bauer, M.D., along with their busy medical careers, pursued avocations as marine biologists, SCUBA divers and diving Historians. The Bauer’s’ acquired the worlds largest collection of diving helmets, hand operated air pumps, armored suits, lights, accessory gear, memorabilia, prints, photographs, books, film and video. The collection represents the contributions of more than 30 countries to diving history.

After retiring, Dr. Joe & Sally devoted their time, expertise and their unique collection of historic artifacts to the development of a world class History of Diving Museum located in the Upper Florida Keys. The History of Diving Museum opened to the world in September of 2007. Dr. Joe wanted to show the world the complete story of “Man’s Quest to Explore the Sea” and share this largely untold story. Dr. Joe’s story begins 5000 years ago and takes you on the journey up to modern SCUBA. My favorite memory of Dr. Joe is walking the corridors of the museum telling the story of diving to me and other guests. When he spoke his eyes would light up, he became animated, passionate and his voice would explode with energy. This is how I will remember Dr. Joe.

It is rare that a man leaves a legacy that affects the world. It is far rarer still to leave two different legacies to humanity. Dr Joe not only left a legacy as a surgeon, innovator, and pioneer of medical procedures but he left the world, the story of diving. We have truly lost a great man. He was a Diver and will be sorely missed.

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