Soto passed away Tuesday, March 17, 2015 and is survived by his wife, Suzy, and
their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Bob is rightly credited
with creating the recreational dive industry in the Cayman Islands when he
opened the first dive shop there in 1957.
He was born in Cuba in 1926 to a Cuban father and Caymanian mother and
chose to settle in Cayman after serving in the U.S. Navy. It was in the Navy
that he learned to dive and after the war, served in the Merchant Marines,
which gave him an opportunity to advance his dive skills the world over. Soto was passionate about marine and
environmental conservation, long before it became a popular cause, and actively
worked to establish local marine conservation laws in the 1980's. A full biography of Bob is available right here on this website under Caribbean Legends.
Dr. Joseph A. Bodner, retired
Naval Captain and dentist, passed away in his home of Branford, Connecticut on
March 15, 2015. He and his wife, Jean (who preceded him in death on May 19,
2012) were a huge influence on scuba diving even before there were certifying
agencies. He was certified as a dive
instructor in Houston in the first NAUI instructor class, completing the course with the
highest scores. He later served on the board of directors of NAUI. His further
contributions to the dive community can be examined in his complete biography available right here on this website. We are grateful to have known Dr. Bodner
personally and extend our sincere sympathy to his two surviving sons, Joseph
and Paul, as well as to their families.
One of our ILD Legends, Big John McLaughlin, was honored this past spring with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. A complete biography of Big John can be found right here on our website. Our sincere congratulations go out to our Legend and friend, John McLaughlin.
Read Big John's fascinating story here: Big John McLaughlin
International Swimming Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement Award introduction video for Big John McLaughlin
A true Legend of
Diving, Captain Don Stewart of Bonaire, passed away on May 28th,
2014. A Celebration of Life for the beloved, colorful Captain will
be held on Friday, June 27th, 2014 at 6pm, during the
Taste of Bonaire in the Wilhelmina Park. Captain Don was not only
known for helping to put Bonaire on the scuba diving map, but throughout his
life, spearheaded conservation of the underwater environment he so
passionately loved and fought to protect. This passion for
everything green only grew stronger throughout his later years. He is
survived by his loving partner of some 30 years, Janet Thibault, as well as Valerie, Kevin, and Gwen Dee Stewart. A full biography
of this fascinating, influential man can be read right here on our
ILD is happy to
announce that Dottie Frazier, received the prestigious
California Scuba Service Award on Saturday June 7, 2014 at the Scuba
Show in Long Beach, California. The award was established by
California Diving News in 1989 to honor those who have made long
lasting and outstanding contributions to sport diving in the
It is so
appropriate that Dottie received this award in the very city
she was born in July of 1922. From a very young age, she was drawn to
the water--swimming at the age of three, rowing her own boat at the
age of five, and quickly becoming proficient at fishing. Her father
helped her create a makeshift mask at the age of six and spearfishing
and catching lobsters soon became her area of expertise.
found work as a deck hand and galley girl on commercial fishing
boats, while still finding the time to enter as many skin diving
contests as she could in her spare time. Despite the fact that she
was usually the only female contestant, she won her fair share of
prizes. A woman of many and varied interests, Dottie became
proficient in snow and water skiing, as well as board surfing. Not
content with that, she soon bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle and
rode all over California with a local bike club. That wide and varied passion for adventure is woven throughout Dottie's colorful life.
It was in 1940 that Dottie started teaching skin diving classes and
in 1955 she became the first female scuba instructor in the world
through the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Certification
Course. Not only did she pass the course, she took top honors in the
class of all men. This achievement was only the beginning of
Dottie's "firsts" in the world of scuba diving. She was the first
woman in the world to own her own dive shop, named "Penguin",
where she offered scuba lessons and sold her own line of wetsuits.
Yes, she was the first woman to commercially produce both wet and dry
suits which were sold by US Divers, Healthways, as well as Navy UDT
Dottie was also
one of the first women hardhat divers and worked professionally as
one for two years. She soon made her way to the big screen, acting in several films that featured scuba
diving. Definitely not the least of
her achievements was raising four sons, all who became divers, as
well. She even formed a dive club called "Aqua Families" for
couples with children, encouraging husbands and wives to take turns
watching the children while their spouses would dive.
It is no surprise
that Dottie is the only woman diver honored to be included in the
Skin Diving History Museum, as well as being the recipient of many
other distinguished awards. She entered the Women Divers Hall of
Fame in March of 2000 and in 2001 she was inducted as a Life Member
of the second oldest dive club in the U.S., the Long Beach Neptunes.
She is the only surviving charter member. In 2009, Dottie received the
International Legends of Diving Award in Freeport, Grand Bahama where she inspired dozens of local school children who soaked up every
minute spent in her presence. Her passion, not only for diving and
the sea, but for life itself, was palpable at that event and never to
congratulations go out to Dottie as the deserving recipient of the California Scuba Service Award.
The 5th Annual Diver Education Conference was held on March 15, 2014 from 8am-5pm at the Pacific Gas & Electric - Energy Education Center, located at 6588 Ontario Road, Avila Beach, CA. The Opening Presentation was delivered by popular Dive Historian, Dr. Sam Miller III, on the subject "The Divers Down Flag." Dr Miller III, as well as his son Dr Sam Miller IV, are featured among our ILD Legends on this website, where you can read their full biographies.
The next expert to speak was Karl Huggins, of the USC Wrigley Marine Institute and Director of the Hyperbaric Facility. He addressed the "Dangers of Panic-Dive Computers."
Patrick Smith, a Commercial & Scientific Diver, with an MA in Public History & Historic Preservation, as well as co-author of "Shipwrecks of Southern California" discussed the "Discovery of the Grunman Torpedo Bomber in the Channel Islands."
Dr. Sam Miller IV, a specialist in Hyperbaric & Undersea Medicine - Emergency Medicine and practicing Emergency Physician at the Marion Medical Center, addressed "Aquatic Environment Infections & Treatments."
"Survival at Sea" was discussed by Paul Buechner, the Lead Instructor at the Wilderness Medicine Institute. Buechner also serves as a Diver Medic on the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology.
John McKenney, a Professional Underwater Cinematographer and Deputy & Public Safety Diver on the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Underwater Search & Recovery Team shared "Perils of the Deep."
Thomas Nugent, Captain in the US Navy (Retired) and Supervisor of Naval Reserve Diving in the West Coast & Hawaiian Islands provided "Examples of Navy Search & Recovery Dive Operations."
In addition to these lively presentations, the event included some fascinating static displays such as classic underwater camera systems from the collection of Devon Tompkins, as well as classic spear guns from the collection of Dr Sam Miller III.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff - Underwater Search & Recovery Dive Team
Conference Syllabus Reproduction - Morning Coffee, Ice & Cookies
Pacific Gas & Electric Company - Energy Education Center
Energy Education Center Facilities
Depth Perceptions Diving Services
Conference Organization - Syllabus Binding - Conference Promotion
Nick Icorn, a true gentleman and legend of the dive
community, passed away Sunday December 22, 2014. A small memorial for him was held at
Forest Lawn, Cypress, California on Saturday December 28th at 9am.
Nick was born in Hollywood, California and fell in love
with the ocean from a very early age, learning to swim in the waters off
Huntington Beach. He had a strong desire
to serve his country, as evidenced by his joining the Merchant Marines at the age
of 14, only to be kicked out when they learned he had lied about his age. Nick
was undeterred, however, and with his mother's help, he joined the United
States Marines in 1944 and served in the Philippines and Saipan in the years
After marrying his wife, Marilyn, in 1950, he soon discovered
his other great love, scuba diving. His interest began in her uncle's pool with
the aid of a mask and fins and that experience would prove to guide the rest of
his life. His passion and extensive
knowledge of the sport would influence countless other divers who would follow
in his wake.
Nick was a part of the first formal Underwater
Instructors Course and held instructor certificates from L.A. County, the YMCA,
NAUI, SSI, PADI, as well as NASDS. He
became the first Executive Director of PADI in 1969, developing programs and standards
for the agency. During his tenure as director,
the number of PADI instructors surged from a mere 234 to 12,000 worldwide. Icorn's legacy includes the numerous training
manuals for the dive industry that he wrote: "Standards and Procedures Manual," "The Basic Scuba Course," and the "Course Director's Manual."
Nick worked as an
engineer for several of the U.S. dive manufacturers over the years, integral in
the evolution of dive equipment. It was a passion of his to share the history
of these evolving vintage pieces, and he volunteered countless hours in his
later years doing just that, to the delight of divers young and old.
Icorn was rightly the recipient of many awards in the
dive industry including two NOGI Awards, the DEMA Reaching Out Award, The
California Scuba Service Award, the Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award, as well as
the International Legends of Diving Award.
He was inducted into both the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
and the NAUI Hall of Honor.
We at ILD have lost not only a Legend, but a good friend. We were privileged to host both Nick and his daughter, Tina, at two of our Legends Events. Our sincere condolences go out to Tina and her family. Nick Icorn will be greatly missed.
Diving Legend Bob Croft, whose life story can be read
here on ILD, has released his much anticipated autobiography, "Bob Croft, Father of American Freediving." Before Bob's first record-setting dive, experts believed that dives below 120 feet could be
life-threatening and that the 200 ft depth mark would indeed prove fatal. Croft's record breaking free dive proved these theories to be wrong and he went on to
beat European free diver, Jacques Mayo, in three consecutive contests.
Croft participated in various medical experiments that
helped shed light on exactly what happens to the human body during very deep
dives. In addition to this research
work, Bob developed a powerful technique referred to as "packing" that deep free divers utilize to this day. "Packing" involves using the tongue as a pump to force extra air
into the lungs of the diver and became an effective tool for deep dives.
You can learn more about Bob's free diving breakthroughs and
experiences in his entertaining and informative new book, now available through his website www.bobcroftdiver.com.
ILD is pleased to announce that Barbara Allen
has been selected to join the Women Divers Hall of Fame, Class of 2014. Barbara graduated from the 6th Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Certification Course in 1957, only the second woman to do so at that time. She certainly served as a pioneer, helping to break ground for all women divers who would follow in her wake. She served as a dive instructor at the famous Dive N' Surf, as well as the Diving Locker, and in 1961 became secretary of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society.
Allen worked as a technician in near shore studies at the Westinghouse Ocean Research Lab and demonstrated rebreathers at Offshore Exploration Conferences. Barbara was able to utilize both her diving and photography skills in her work in FMC Ocean Engineering Department's test tanks. Her work as a photographer has not gone unrecognized and Allen was honored as a diving pioneer by the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society in 2009.
Barbara continues to serve the interests of the dive community by volunteering at the California Surf Museum, helping to educate the public about the history of diving, as well as the precious ocean environment she seeks to preserve. We invite you to read more about Barbara's dynamic life and career right here on our website.
Dr Sam Miller III
ILD Legend, Dr Sam Miller III, was honored with the 2013 California Scuba Service Award at the Long Beach Scuba Show.The award was presented to Dr Miller by the
Senior Editor of California Diving News, Marty Snyderman. It is a well-deserved
honor, as Dr Miller's considerable and ongoing influence on the dive community
began as far back as the 1940's.
At a time when the sport was still very young, Dr Miller served as a consultant to
various scuba equipment manufacturers, which included testing pieces of dive
equipment, which obviously came with inherent risks. On the night he received the
award, Sam acknowledged these risks, but insisted that it was indeed a wonderful and
exciting time to enter the world of diving. Dr Miller's contributions include
developing many of the early scuba training exercises, creating the first advanced diving
program, as well as the structure of the diver classification system, to name just a few.
Dr Sam Miller III continues to exert a positive impact both on divers new to the sport,
as well as his fellow pioneers, by sharing his extensive knowledge of diving, as well as
its history through articles he contributes here at ILD and other venues. His full
biography can be enjoyed right here on the ILD site.
The 9th Annual Legends of Diving Event
was held at Portage Quarry in Bowling Green, Ohio on Saturday August 10, 2013. Returning Legend, Alec Peirce, of Scuba 2000(Toronto, Canada)was on hand to inform and entertain our visiting divers with a lively presentation on Sea Hunt. Always a favorite at the Legends events, Peirce shared a wide range of memorabilia from the hit TV show, including his pristine and rare comic book collection, as well as scripts and items used on the show.
Also present was an enthusiastic group of vintage divers, members of the Vintage Double Hose Club, led by Bryan Pennington, of Florida. Visiting divers new to the event especially enjoyed the knowledge and camaraderie provided by the group. A special thank you to our Canadian friends and divers who made the trip with Alec and always add a positive spirit to this event. Pictures from the Legends weekend are available here
Body Glove co-founder Bob Meistrell died on his boat, the
Disappearance, at the age of 84 when returning from a trip to Catalina Island
Sunday June 16th, 2013. He was working
on the boat's engine when he suffered a heart attack and was unable to be
revived. Meistrell, featured here on
our website, was best known as a surfing and diving legend who started a
company with his twin brother, Bill, designing, manufacturing, and selling
neoprene wetsuits. This company later became known worldwide as Body
Glove. The brothers got their start in
Redondo Beach in 1953 when they joined the Dive N' Surf shop and later became
its sole owners in 1957. Body Glove is
planning its 60th Anniversary this year. Bob was preceded in death by his brother in July of 2006 at the
age of 77.
Bob was the first certified dive instructor, among his many other
accomplishments. You can read more
about Bob Meistrell's fascinating and productive career right here on our
website in his biography. The President of Body
Glove International, Russ Lesser, wrote of Bob Meistrell, "His motto was 'Do
what you love, love what you do,'" ...that he did and he did it well.
Bob Meistrell was much more than his accomplishments, he was a man
of character and integrity and we at ILD feel blessed to have known him as a
friend. He will be greatly missed.
The history of scuba diving is something that dates back over one hundred years, replete with legendary characters who spearheaded the sport. Some of these legends of diving went to great lengths to explore the underwater world before diving equipment was readily available to the average person. We are here to share the colorful stories of their makeshift dive equipment and the obstacles they overcame to bring diving to the common man.
Through our legends of scuba diving site you will experience the adventures of shipwrecks, treasure hunters, cave diving, and even more and learn of these human legends, both living and dead, who made the joys of scuba diving available the world over.
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