Bev Morgan personified “pioneer”… early 1950s scuba training, development of wetsuits, influencing the design of the first scuba gear, underwater photography, and setting the bar for modern commercial diving equipment as it transitioned from hard hat to lightweight helmets and support accessories. Bev was creative, ingenious is so many ways, and defined leadership. He left a truly unique legacy.
I first met Bev in 1967 as a teenager at the U.S. Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach, California… my first trip ever to the West Coast. I was riding competitively for Hobie Alter who owned Hobie surfboards and Bev saved me from the freezing ocean waters by giving me a shortie wetsuit and a lot of good advice. I was used to riding in the 80+ degree waters of the Carolinas and Virginia Beach. We chatted a lot over the weekend and I realized that he had authored the dive-training manual I had been trained on when taking up scuba at the ripe old age of eight in 1959 after seeing the first episodes of Sea Hunt. We bonded and began a friendship that spanned 51 years.
Hanging out with Bev was both a learning experience and a seriously fun time. He mentored me in so many ways and helped craft my career path. He always encouraged me to follow my instincts and embrace new innovations and unfolding technologies that my companies were developing. And he provided perspectives on everything from saturation diving to why we should spend the evening with David Crosby and throw caution to the wind. There always seemed to be a brisk wind…
Bev was the very first person I invited to participate in the lengthy interview series first featured in my DeepTech, Fathoms, and Diving Adventure magazines. The popularity of those revealing features inspired my book Diving Pioneers that was released in late 2007 and became a collector’s item for the divers who managed to grab a copy. Of course, there was no question of who would be on the cover. And the classic image of him in a full dress Mark V rig pretty much summed up our collective image of a Diving Pioneer.
Bev surprised me when he called me out of the blue before he passed away and we chatted for nearly an hour last May. He never mentioned that his health had crumbled and that this would likely be the last chance we had to chat. It was a great conversation… with a truly great man… and a valued friend whose influence on me was immeasurable.
I know he’s in a great place surrounded by so many of our friends that went along before us. I know that they’ll keep the party going until we can catch up. He always told me not to mourn the folks that go on ahead… just to celebrate their lives to the fullest.
Good advice… and there’s no one I’d rather celebrate with. I just wish I could stand a little closer. All of us who made our careers in diving stand on the shoulders of those who went before. Bev wasn’t a tall guy but my view from his shoulders opened the world to me back in 1967 and continues to show me the way today.
God speed, Bev… vaya con dios.