Dive Industry Mourns the Passing of Alese Pechter
Alese Pechter passed away of metastatic cancer of unknown origin. She died peacefully at home with her family surrounding her. The funeral was in New York and she now rests next to her beloved husband, Morton “Mort.”
Alese worked in the sports photography and diving worlds side-by-side with Mort. Although, Mort passed away in 2008, she always included him in her writings and correspondence. Every letter she wrote had the salutation, “Enjoy Being . . . AleseMort.” They worked within the SCUBA industry and with the general public to create an awareness of SCUBA as an accepted sport. She contacted and worked with the mass media helping to change the image of the industry from “macho” to an accepted family recreational sport.
Alese and Mort were official photographers for the diving industry trade association, DEMA, almost from its inception. They traveled the globe documenting the underwater experience… photographing, writing and lecturing, passing the word along about the world of SCUBA. Scientists and writers, as well as media personnel, have been the beneficiaries of their excellent work. Accompanying the DEMA press trips, they supplied the underwater and topside photos for international journalists whose articles have appeared worldwide in publications outside the diving community. Their photographic library is a veritable history of the diving world and international SCUBA sites.
Alese and Mort were renowned underwater photojournalists…. active photographers, authors, teachers, divers and lecturers, searching for sunken archeological treasures, photographing the magnificent reefs or investigating the deep ocean. Always conscious of the need to protect and preserve these beautiful natural wonders, the Pechter’s worked tirelessly to make others aware. They specialized in multi-media productions that instructed while they entertained, visiting with school children and with adult groups to promote ocean conservation.
The Pechter’s children’s book, What’s In The Deep? received public and critical acclaim and was chosen a Reading Rainbow selection. It was the first ocean-oriented book geared to young people that carried actual photographs of the underwater world, rather than illustrations that came from someone’s imagination. What’s In The Deep? became a science text in libraries and classrooms throughout the country. Most recently, Alese published two books as part of the Best Publishing Children’s Book Series, Skyward Bound: Hot Air Ballooning and See The Sea.
Alese and Mort were masthead contributors to Underwater USA, Caribbean Travel & Life, Dive Training and Rodale’s Sport Diver publications. Several of their underwater photos were selected by the Chinese government to be part of a special art show touring their country.
Ardent marine ecology advocates and always conscious of the fact that little ones who snorkel may become SCUBA divers, Alese and Mort were fervent promoters of family involvement in the underwater world. They truly were pioneers in their promotion of snorkeling as an active, family recreational sport that encourages the conservation and ecological spirit of the individual.
Alese and Mort were elected Fellow National members in the prestigious Explorers Club for their contribution to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration, Life members of the National Marine Educators Association, the Historical Divers Association and are also members of the Oceanography Society. Alese was elected a charter member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
Recognized as outstanding underwater photojournalists, New York Times art critic David Shirey once stated that Alese and Mort’s photographs “reflect a technique, a specialized expertise and an aesthetic authority that gives us a new understanding of underwater photography.”
Alese and Mort had been featured speakers on several television productions, among them a special television production about sea and space including Michael Collins, the command module pilot for the first landing on the moon. Their photos and articles appeared not only in SCUBA publications but in general interest magazines and newspapers throughout the world and their multi-media presentations and seminars on ecology, marine biology, land and underwater photography, travel and on the creation of multi-media shows, captivated audiences at museums, schools, SCUBA shows and universities throughout the world.
Alese and Mort had several prestigious art gallery shows and their works are hanging in private collections as well as being part of the permanent collections of the Long Island Science Museum, Florida Atlantic University and Adelphi University. They were founding members of the Long Island Science Museum having carried the title of Administrative Vice President of the museum for several years.
Among their many awards, Alese & Morton Pechter had been honored by the United Nations Environment Program and recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Sea Divers. They have also been honored by the South Florida Police Search & Rescue Teams, and were selected as the 1996 Photojournalists of the Year. They were honored and recognized by their peers with such prestigious awards as the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service, the DEMA Reaching Out Award, Beneath the Sea Divers of the Year and Beneath the Sea Diving Pioneers. Alese and Mort were also inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. Alese was a DEMA Hall of Fame Ambassador along with dear friend, Zale Parry.
Alese and Mort had the unique ability to instill in others the same excitement and enthusiasm for life’s wonders that they had. Their obvious delight for the world beneath the sea was nurtured by their deep commitment to conservation and preservation of the underwater wilderness.