The dive industry is mourning the death of scuba diving pioneer Bob Hollis, who passed away on 4 January in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his family by his side.
Huish Outdoors released a heartfelt obituary:
Born on 25 April 1937, in Orland, California to Robert and Elinor Hollis, Bob leaves behind a legacy as a pioneer, entrepreneur, businessman, and most importantly, a loving father and grandfather.
Bob accomplished more in 85 years than most and lived his life to the fullest. He was a risk taker who truly did what he loved and inspired others to do the same. If there wasn’t a way, he created one.
Bob will be remembered by many as a groundbreaking influence in both the sport of scuba diving and underwater photography. Bob’s love of the ocean began in 1955 after reading an article about underwater exploration in Popular Mechanics.
Following his first scuba experience, Bob became obsessed with the water, becoming one of the earliest underwater photographers on the West Coast and establishing the Underwater Photographic Society of Northern California in 1966.
Additionally, Bob was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Underwater Parks and Reserves (California State Parks Department), where he assisted in exploring the coastline and identifying future areas for preservation, including Point Lobos, La Jolla and the Salt Point State Park.
A true entrepreneur, when Bob realized that the scuba diving and photography equipment available at that time did not meet his needs, he set about developing his own. All of this was done while Bob continued to attend school for business and engineering and worked at Standard Oil to support his young family.
In 1966, Bob opened the Anchor Shack dive shop in Hayward, California, and began developing underwater camera housing, strobes and hand lights, which served as the jumping off point for his company Oceanic.
By 1976, the Oceanic product line had completely developed, ultimately turning Bob and the Oceanic brand into leaders in the scuba diving community. Over the course of his lifetime, Bob founded many companies including American Underwater Products, Pelagic Pressure Systems, ROMI Enterprises and the renowned scuba diving brands, Oceanic, Hollis, and Aeris. Bob wanted everyone to experience scuba diving and gave thousands around the world the opportunity to do so.
Using his experience, Bob helped create an underwater saturation system in 1978 for the Andrea Doria shipwreck. The system was attached to the wreck at a depth of 73m for up to seven days, allowing divers to explore the wreck for several days without having to swim to the surface. Bob logged more dives than anyone on the wreck and in 1981 served as the underwater photographer for the nationally aired film called Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter, detailing the team’s goal of recovering the bank safe from the famed sunken Italian ocean liner.
In addition to developing photography and scuba diving equipment, Bob was also responsible for leading some of the first dive trips to Cozumel, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Belize, Yucatan Peninsula and the Galapagos. He also led tours to the remote destination of Papua New Guinea, where he later built a family home and destination dive resort for other underwater enthusiasts.
Over his storied career, Bob received many awards and achievements including the NOGI Award, the DEMA Reaching Out Award, and was an inductee of the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
Throughout all his professional success, Bob’s greatest achievement was his family, including his children Debbie (Jon), Mike (Molly), Nick (Brittany) and Zach (Danica), grandchildren Heather, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Caitlin, Robert, Seth, Preston, Olivia and Sloane, and great-grandchildren Benjamin, Natalie, Henry, Eleanor, Samuel, Ian and Colin. Bob shared his passion of the ocean and traveling the world with them, including abalone diving trips on the California coast, family liveaboard dive trips, motorcycle adventures, and creating memories for many lifetimes. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
The family will be holding private services in Orland, California and asks for those interested in honouring Bob to share your story and photos via social media. If you would like to also share those with the family, they can be sent to: [email protected]. In lieu of flowers, please donate to an ocean conservation charity in Bob’s memory.