Los Angeles County remembers a man of firsts - Al Tillman
from Los Angeles County's Website
Al Tillman, the developer of Los Angeles County's recreational diver education program and co-founder of NAUI, passed away January 16 in Seattle Washington of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage suffered January 6. He was 76.
Al was long recognized as a founding father of recreational dive training in the United States, developing the first public skin and scuba diver program for Los Angeles County in 1954. This visionary program, co-developed with Bev Morgan, arose when Al brought to the County's attention the need to provide safe training for the rapidly growing numbers of people exploring the field of recreational skin and scuba diving. As a result, Al was the driving force in the development of both the worlds first Public Training Agency and Underwater Instructor Certification Course (1UICC), models upon which all training in the dive industry would be based.
In 1960, Al and Neal Hess took the next step in evolution of dive training when they formed the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). Al served as President and Hess as Executive Secretary in this innovative attempt to bring standardized dive training practices to a nation-wide audience clamoring for a safer and more effective way to learn to dive.
Diving remained a passion for Al throughout the decades that followed. With his teaching, the publication of many cornerstone diving texts, and the development of numerous other projects, including the creation UNEXSO in Freeport Grand Bahamas Island in 1965, Al remained a pioneer.
Al's last appearance at a Los Angeles County event was at the Annual UICC banquet in April 2000, when he was presented with the Conrad Limbaugh Award for his lifetime of contributions to the County.
To say Al Tillman was a dive program developer is an understatement, especially to those of us who carry an LA County card. From the day he became LA County Underwater Instructor # 1, he was a pioneer, innovator, visionary, educator, inspiration, and even a hero. His work was groundbreaking and has made the path for all who followed in his footsteps over these past 50 years a much easier one. He managed to live his life continually looking for the next challenge and set the bar so high many of us will be lucky if we ever see it.
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