Legends of Diving Articles


Ralph Erickson
Co-Founder of PADI

June 25, 1922 to May 25, 2006
Birthplace: South Dakota

PADI co-founder and pioneer diving instructor Ralph Erickson, passed away on May 25, 2006 at the age of 88.

  • Awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals as a member of the 82nd Airborne following the largest air assault operation in history during WWII.

  • Started the Erickson Underwater Swimming School in 1959.

  • Erickson became NAUI Instructor number 35 in 1961 at the first NAUI Instructor Training Course in Houston, TX.

  • He wrote his own scuba instruction book, Under Pressure, which he used for his classes.

  • Met John Cronin later in 1961 and formed a new diver training organization, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), with Erickson as president.

  • Described by Dr. Sam Miller as the "Old Bear" and was certainly one of a kind, he will be missed.

  • With Cronin moved the PADI organization to California in 1971.

  • In 1992 was honored with the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Reaching Out Award for Education and he was inducted into the DEMA Hall of Fame.

  • John Cronin, co-founder of PADI, died July 15, 2003 at his home in Temecula, CA.

  • In 2004, Erickson received the Our World Underwater Achievement Award for his contributions to diving.

  • Erickson was elected to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame with induction to be in 2007.

Ralph Erickson will be remembered for his dedication to education and is a legend in the history of SCUBA diving.

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