Tom Roach

Tom Roach Photo

Legendary East Coast Diver, Tom Roach passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, March 19, 2016. He was 73 years old.

Tom was truly one of the leaders of early east coast diving organizations. After completing a stint in the army in the early 1960s, Tom, started looking for something ‘adventurous’ to do, so he took up the sport of skydiving, something he became interested in while in the army. After a few years of jumping, and unfortunately seeing a few of his friends killed, Tom decided to take up scuba diving because…“I wanted to get into a safer sport.” Little did he know that at that time, in the mid to late 1960s, the mortality rate among scuba divers was actually higher than that of skydivers!

After completing a basic scuba course at the local Philadelphia YMCA, he started diving the local quarries and eventually started diving the shipwrecks off New Jersey in small private boats. Over the next dozen years or so, Tom personally made it possible for hundreds of divers to become acquainted with the fine shipwrecks of the Northeast. He joined a small diving ‘club’ known as the Eastern Divers Association (EDA).

In the late 1960s, the Eastern Divers Association (EDA) was floundering. Boats were not getting filled, divers were not showing up for charters. There was a real possibility of EDA folding. Tom was hungry to continue his new found love of diving, and offered to take over EDA. Tom took this small failing, loosely-organized group, made up of a handful of adventurous, eclectic individuals and built the organization into one of the most respected group of divers on the Northeast coast in its day, with well over 100 ACTIVE DIVING members!

Over the next 10-12 years, Tom personally traveled up and down the entire eastern seaboard talking to, and convincing, fishing boat captains to allow his divers to charter/fill their boats in the off season, when otherwise the fishing boats would lay dormant in port. EDA prided itself in the ability of its divers to dive in almost any weather condition. “Impossible” and “Can’t be done” was not in EDAs vocabulary. EDA’s motto of “If you can hook it, we can dive it.” attested to the enthusiasm and ability of the EDA divers under Tom’s skilled leadership.

EDA never had a monthly meeting or annual banquet. Tom’s unique and persuasive personality was enough to gather together some of the top divers of the 1960s. Those who dove with EDA under Tom’s leadership boasted such legendary individuals as Mike deCamp, John and Evie Dudas, Capt. George Hoffman, Geri Murphy, Bill Palmer, just to name a few.

The diving world they lived in, at that time, was in its infancy, and dangerous, where there was no room for mistakes and the ocean was unforgiving. The Eastern Divers Association took deep sea diving along the Atlantic coast to its known limits, [and occasionally….beyond]. They helped pioneer, or improve some of the equipment and/or techniques divers use today. Such items as Pony Bottles, Wreck Reels (for traveling inside wrecks….these were fashioned out of construction workers wire spool reels), “Jersey Up Lines”, which were basically sisal rope wound on a broomstick handle and strapped to the scuba tank with strips of inner tubing. Techniques for wreck penetration and decompressing were experimented with and perfected on many of EDAs deep dives, though not always successfully. Nearly 4% of EDA divers perished during their dives.

In many cases, under Tom’s leadership, it was an EDA diver who was first, or one of the first to dive on and/or identify/photograph, such wrecks as the Stolt Dagali, Pinta, Texas Tower, Ayuruoca, I.P. Goluandris, M.S.Varanger, USS Bass, USS San Diego, Oregon, U-boats 85, 352, and 853, along with many others.

In the 60’s and 70’s, there were not many published articles about New York and New Jersey area shipwrecks. Tom Roach and others wrote articles about the wrecks that brought national attention to the great wreck diving available to east coast divers.

In the over 12 years of its existence, there was hardly a weekend that went by that there wasn’t an EDA charter going out, somewhere on the Northeast coast, and Tom was on most of them.

From December through April, regardless of the temperature! Many a boat captain could thank EDA for helping them through the cold winter months…before the “regular” dive season started.

To give you an example of what Tom Roach did for EDA and for the sport of Northeast wreck diving, in 1971 EDA divers conducted 215 dives; in 1976 – over 1200 dives!

1971: EDA ran 37 dive charters totaling 215 dives.

1972: 51 dive charters totaling 386 dives.

1973: 58 dive charters totaling 583 dives.

1974: 65 dive charters totaling 737 dives.

1975: 54 dive charters totaling 823 dives

1976: 53 dive charters totaling 1201 dives.

In just 5 years Tom added nearly 1000 dives!…and all of them filled, usually with a waiting list too. That is almost 500% increase in dives! No other dive club, shop or organization was ever able to do this. EDA chartered boats from Rhode Island to North Carolina, and had dives scheduled from January to December. EDA was one of the first out of state groups to charter George Purifoy’s dive boat in Morehead City, NC. A boat captain & crew never had to question a diver’s skills or abilities on his boat if that diver was a member of EDA — Eastern Divers Association.

In the early 1970s, once again Tom traveled up and down the coast to find a commercial vessel large enough (and willing) to venture fare offshore on a multi-day trip to the Andrea Doria. Tom pulled together some of EDAs top divers for an expedition to the fabled Andrea Doria. In an era where less that two dozen non-commercial divers had descended to the wreck. It was a time before dive computers and dry suits, when divers wore ¼” wet suits, used twin 72cu.ft. steel tanks, a submersible pressure gage and a watch…..and not much more. There was no tri-mix, rebreathers, etc. “air” was the gas they used. Less than two dozen non-commercial divers had descended to the Doria prior to EDA’s expedition in 1974.

To give you an idea as to the persuasive power Tom had with the divers of those early years, in 2008, over 40 years after EDA was formed, Tom sent letters to as many EDA members that he could find, some of them he had not seen or heard from in over a quarter of a century. He had invited them to attend the 2008 Beneath The Sea convention, where Tom would show for the first time, a presentation about EDA and early east coast wreck diving. Over 25 original EDA members attended the BTS presentation.

Over 25 former EDA members dropped everything and came to the show. One couple came from Colorado. Another from Virginia, and many others from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Larry Keen came up from Florida, stating “I drove 1500 miles to be here for this [EDA] show, and see Tom again. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

For those of us who knew Tom, had the good (great) fortune to dive with him, be on one of his charters, to learn from him…Tom will be deeply missed.

Hank Garvin

Hank Garvin

It is with both profound sadness and fond memories that the Long Island Divers Association marks the passing of one of the true giants of Northeast Scuba diving, Captain Hank Garvin. Many remember him as the Captain/Owner of the R.V. Garloo, one of the great dive boats serving our community. He was so much more. Even the name of his boat reflected his warmth and humor. Most know that his boat was once known as the R.V. Wahoo when owned by Captain Steve Bielenda, Hank being one of the Captains of that boat. Many think that the “Garloo” designation was simply a name change reflecting Captain Hank’s name. It was much more. Not all may remember that “Garloo” was Captain Hank’s self-effacing “nickname” for many years. “The Great Garloo” was a popular children’s toy in early the 1960’s. It was was a large, giant of a green “monster”, almost like the more modern “Hulk” character. But the “Great Garloo” was a gentle and kind Giant, a best toy friend to children. Captain Hank, a giant of a man in every way, was “Garloo”. He was a legendary diver long before he was a Captain and Boat Owner. According to his friend Captain Steve Bielenda, he began serious diving in the early 1980’s and rapidly became one of the most accomplished divers of his era. In addition to the “Oregon” and the “San Diego”, the “Andria Doria” was among his favorite haunts. He was always willing and anxious to help others benefit from his experiences and expertise, keeping safety his first concern. To call him a legendary explorer of Northeast wrecks is an understatement. Such accomplished divers and explorers as Dan Berg, John Lachenmeyer, Frank Persico, Bill Reddan, Paula Jerman, Steve and Maureen Langevan, Steve Bielenda, Sally Wahrman, and so many others could regale you with hours of stories and memories of this special man. And not just as a diver, as “Hank”. Captain Hank was an early and constant supporter of the Long Island Divers Association, its members and its goals. Just recently, when LIDA took on a project to aid some underprivileged inner city divers for the Harbor School to become exposed to Long Island Diving, Captain Hank, as he always did, “stepped up to the plate”. Without prompting or request, he made the R.V. Garloo available for these young men and women, without charge. He wouldn’t even accept fuel reimbursement. That was Hank! And of course, Captain Hank never spoke of or sought praise for that or the many things he did for the dive community. I never recall Captain Hank not coming through whenever the opportunity arose, and dare say that no one else could. He was a special man. His heart was a big as his frame. A service for Hank Garvin will be held this Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 12:30pm, at I.J. Morris Funeral Home, 21 East Deer Park Drive, Dix Hills, New York. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name to the Harbor School, Maritime Cadets, and the friends and children Hank so often took on his boat , would be a loving and fitting tribute to Captain Hank. Donations may be made through the Long Island Divers Association in Captain Hank’s name. Calm seas and fair weather Captain Hank. You will always be remembered, and revered. Long Island Divers Association

Richard Thomas Clinton, Jr.

Richard Thomas Clinton, Jr. passed away peacefully on April 3, 2015 at hisRick Clinton home. He was in born in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Rick owned and operated his own construction company until he retired in 2009. He was a dive master and held his boat captain license. Diving was his passion and he participated in several large savage operations around the world.

Rick was preceded in death by his father Richard T Clinton Sr. beloved daughter Kelly Clinton and the love of his life Lyn Clinton. He is survived by his mother Virginia Clinton, and five siblings, Christine Pochwat and spouse Mitchell Pochwat, Mark Clinton, Gregory Clinton and spouse Vicki Clinton, Dan Clinton and Tracy Clinton. He also leaves behind thirteen nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly.

Gary Smith

garyGary Smith was the most gentle and giving person to share diving with. He was a longtime Divemaster for several boats, clubs, shops and for the past dozen plus years has been divemastering, in particular on the Dina Dee, assisting in classes and has been a cornerstone mentor for Atlantic Divers. Gary was passionate about wreck diving, collecting and spearfishing. More than any other activity, Gary enjoyed taking new divers under his wing and imparting his great knowledge of diving, the sea, and his philosophy of how to be a good parent, husband and friend. He continually shared his detailed stories, Yodels, sandwiches and sodas on every trip. His good nature never faltered. He was tireless, dedicated, cheerful and unassuming. Gary never complained and always contributed.

Gary passed away after a routine dive on the Great Isaac. After sharing a normal ascent with his dive partner, Gary swam to the boat and landed his catch of mussels. He then ascended the ladder on his own power. He was not rescued from the water. To set the record straight….there was no foul play, nor was it a diving accident. He collapsed on the boat AFTER HIS DIVE!

The crew of the Dina Dee handled this tragic event with professionalism, efficiency and with great care for their dear friend Gary.

Gary Smith founded the underwater search and rescue team in Lacey. He dedicated his life to helping others.

We shall never forget his gentle ways and acts of kindness.

Gene Peterson

Captain Ray Ettel

ETTEL, RAYMOND E, 74 – of Manahawkin, Survived By Wife: Carolyn, Married 54 Years; Daughter and Son-in-law, Judith and Steven Frost, of New Jersey Grandchildren; two, Brianna and Layla; And his beloved black Lab BUBBA; Sister and Brother-in-law Lois and John Stroud Nephew Bruce Stroud. Raymond was the Captain and the owner of the White Star Fishing Boat out of Barnegat Light, for many years before retiring. A memorial Service will beat the Thos I. Shinn Funeral Home 10 Hilliard Dr Manahawkin, Saturday March 7 2009, from 12-2PM with a service being held at 2PM Cremation was private

George Purifoy

George_PurifoyMOREHEAD CITY — A city native and a pioneer of diving in North Carolina, George Purifoy, 63, died Sunday doing what he loved most.

Mr. Purifoy had a heart attack Sunday evening while out on his boat based at his longtime business, the Olympus Dive Shop on the city’s waterfront.

“I was in absolute shock,” said close friend and county tourism official Carol Lohr, who has known Mr. Purifoy since they met 22 years ago at the first N.C. Seafood Festival, which is based on the waterfront. “He was just a fine person.”

“He did more for diving in North Carolina than anyone I know,” she said.

Mr. Purifoy took his first dive in 1961 and nearly 7,000 dives later he managed to pass his love and passion on to his son Robert and countless numbers of divers.

He is credited for the discovery and identification of numerous shipwrecks off the coast of the southern Outer Banks, most notably the WWII submarine the U-352 and the USS Schurz.

“He was passionate about diving and about discovering new wreck sites,” Mrs. Lohr said. “He met the U-352 survivors and paid for their trip to come here and pay their respects to their fallen comrades.

“He loved North Carolina diving and it was obvious in everything he did,” she continued. “He was a role model for a lot of people.”

Mrs. Lohr said Mr. Purifoy’s son Robert is equally as passionate about diving.

“I think it instilled in Robert his love for the sea. It’s obvious the tradition will continue,” she said.

Mr. Purifoy was well-known in his community because Mrs. Lohr said he wanted to see the Morehead City waterfront develop into a showcase, and he paid attention to civic opportunities.

She said he even offered free trips to writers just to get them offshore.

Mrs. Lohr said Mr. Purifoy wanted to see Morehead City become a destination, and he always kept his dive shop professional.

“He has done so much for the dive community. I just hope he’ll be remembered for his passion and love of dives from the historic aspect,” Mrs. Lohr said. “He knew when he found a wreck what that ship meant to the crew and what it took to preserve and restore it for others to enjoy.

“He will be missed,” she said.

Rick Allen and his wife Cindy Burnham have also known Mr. Purifoy for about 25 years and said in the diving world he is a legend.

“If you’re a wreck diver on the East Coast, you know who he is,” Mr. Allen said. “He was an interesting, unique and funny guy. As a professional he was wonderful, too, because he had safe boats and took us to all of these places.”

Mr. Allen met Mr. Purifoy in 1983 when he went on his first dive.

Mr. Allen and Mrs. Burnham live in Fayetteville and own a home in Morehead City. They come to the coast on the weekends to go dive.

“He will surely be missed because he was a solid fixture,” Mr. Allen said.

Mr. Purifoy, before diving full time was a diesel mechanic by trade and owned a repair shop for nearly 25 years.

In 1975, the introduction of Loran C, the predecessor to GPS, revolutionized the state’s diving industry by enabling boat captains to relocate wreck sites.

Mr. Purifoy began running a small dive business in 1976 with a compressor, rentals,\ and weekend charters aboard the 47-foot, twin-engined Atlantis II.

The business expanded in the late 1970s with the purchase of Olympus I, a 57-foot, wooden-hulled head boat and the addition of Olympus Gym, Morehead City’s first fitness center.

The current dive shop was built in 1982 and the 65-foot aluminum-hulled Olympus used today was purchased in 1986.

Mr. Purifoy went into diving full time in 1990.

Brooks Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Copyright © 2008 – Carteret County News-Times

Frank Mundus

tmundusHONOLULU (AP) — Frank Mundus, the legendary shark fisherman said to have inspired the Captain Quint character in the movie “Jaws,” has died. He was 82.

Mundus died Wednesday at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu after a heart attack, his wife said.

It was his second heart attack in four days. He suffered the earlier one Sept. 6 at Kona International Airport after returning from a business trip to New York.

Mundus had a history of heart disease, his wife, Jeanette Mundus, 46, said from their home in Naalehu on the southern tip of the Big Island. He suffered his first heart attack in 1998 and later had quadruple bypass surgery.

Known as the “Monster Man” for the size of the sharks he caught, the gregarious Mundus had an outsized personality nearly as big as his famed boat, the Cricket II.

He forged his reputation as a fearless fisherman in Montauk beginning in 1951, hunting down the world’s biggest sharks.

“I had a lot of close calls,” he once said. “Probably too many close calls.”

In 1964, Mundus used a harpoon to snag a 4,500-pound great white. He later bagged a 17-foot-long, 3,427-pound great white by rod and reel in 1986. He later described the experience to Esquire magazine.

“After you get the fish, you turn around and look at the fish, and you feel sorry for the fish because he’s your opponent,” Mundus recalled. “I always feel good that I won, but I feel sorry for the one who lost.”

On his Web site, Mundus said events from the 1964 catch influenced Peter Benchley, who wrote “Jaws.” But Benchley maintained that Quint was a composite character.

The best-selling book was turned into the 1975 film, a blockbuster that left many beachgoers thinking twice about taking a dip in the ocean.

Mundus, who was born in Long Branch, N.J. in 1925, called “Jaws” the “funniest and the stupidest” movie he had ever seen and said he some things in common with Quint such as similar fishing techniques.

Jeanette Mundus said her husband actively promoted shark conservation starting in the 1960s. He pushed the use of less damaging hook varieties that allow fishermen to catch and release the fish.

“A lot of people over the years have thought of him just as a hunter of sharks,” Jeanette Mundus said. “But he did try to preserve them.”

Mundus retired to Hawaii in 1991 after a lifetime of fishing. He didn’t regularly fish for sharks off Hawaii, his wife said.