NAUI 50th Anniversary Celebration
by Dr. Sam Miller
2010 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.
In 1954 there was only one certification agency: LA County
Underwater Instructors Association (LA Co UIA). In August
1960 LA County Instructors established National Association
of Underwater Instructors ( NAUI) -- It was a true
association of Underwater Instructors. Ten years later the
Professional Association of Diving Instructors, (PADI) was
established as a for-profit organization.
NAUI 50th Anniversary Celebration - February 20, 2010
In the genesis of the recreational diving many of the SoCal
spear fishermen were also LA Co & NAUI Certified.
What follows is a story of a recent event celebrating NAUI’s
50th Anniversary and my involvement.
About a month ago I received a special richly engraved
invitation to attend the NAUI 50th Anniversary celebration
to be held at the new NAUI headquarters building in
Tampa, Florida. It was not just an invite but an
invitation to an all expense paid trip to the event.
I was certainly free and available but due to several
circumstances I like to travel with a companion. My dear
wife was the first choice, but since she has
in school finance & budgeting and in view of the current
California school crisis was booked up with conferences and
seminars. My second choice was my son, who is a NAUI Life
member, a Pro 5000 diver, a Hyperbaric doctor (in Santa
Maria) and a former member of the Long Beach Neptunes, (as I
was in the 1950s) was a logical second choice, but he also
was booked solid.
With total dismay I telephoned NAUI and expressed my regrets
that I would not be attending. At 8:05 the next morning Jim
Bram, the president of NAUI, called and immediately stated "I
will not take no for an answer, I want you to attend, I am
sending Mike Dunst, the former SoCal district manager to
"But he has moved to Texas" I replied.
Bridges accepting an award for his
father, Lloyd Bridges, aka Mike Nelson
"That is correct! He will fly into California and accompany
you on your trip, so get your bags packed!" he commanded. I
did and Mike accompanied me.
The trip was interesting, worthy of at least several
paragraphs, but that story will need to be deferred to the
dark of the night over a cool one.
I walked into the lobby of the hotel right in to the middle
of the "California section."
Setting around a table were octogenarian instructors: Harry
Vetter, NAUI #4, Nick Icorn NAUI # 431, Glen Egstom, NAUI #
937, Home Fletcher NAUI #1833
two past NAUI directors
Art Ulrich, NAUI #601 and Sam Jackson NAUI #2972. Greetings
were exchanged and space was made for me to join the
venerable circle of vintage instructors. The twice told
stories were told and retold each time the embellishments
made them better than the previous telling.
At 3 pm the general meeting began. As one who can recall the
humble genesis of NAUI I was surprised at the number of
instructors from all over the world in
Icorn and Dr. Sam Miller
attendance-- and how young so many appeared.
Immediately after the general meeting there was a champagne
cocktail reception on the patio. A time for pictures and
renewing of old friendships and cementing of new
friendships. I was joined by Dave Woodward, NAUI # 29 who
I hadn't seen in 35 years who now resides in snowy Colorado.
On to a Jim Bram personally conducted tour of the new and
very exciting NAUI headquarters building. What a building!
Modern with all the latest electric
Parry and Tom Tillman,
son of Al Tillman
technologies with the
light blue color and the NAUI "Wave" a general theme
throughout all areas. So very, very impressive!
There was only one word for the banquet-- Fantastic! The
quality, quality and variety of food was equal to a Las
Vegas buffet. We heaped out plates and settled in. Once
again the California Mafia had their own table; Glen Egstrom,
Nick Icorn, Tommy Tillman (son of LA Co & NAUI founder, the
late Al Tillman) Zale Parry and yours truly.
The informal program began with a trivia question, which I
immediately blurted out the answer and won the prize.
Harry Vetter, along with me was a former member of the
Southern California Skin divers club (recall that one" we
195I Spear Fishing meet). A diving buddy and veteran LA Co
Underwater Instructor, and the oldest living NAUI
instructor # 4 (FOUR!), singled me out for special
recognition as NAUI Instructor # 27, as one of the four
oldest living NAUI instructors, and the oldest NAUI
instructor still living in California - where it all began!
The recognition spotlight was somewhat embarrassing but also
concurrently ego satisfying.
It was a night and an event that the participants didn't
want to end, but to everything there is a beginning, a
middle, and an end. As the oldest California NAUI
instructor, my life and my diving has been enriched as one
who has experienced the beginning, the middle, but the end
is many years in the future and I suspect that I nor the
readers of this post will never see the end of NAUI.
Bram (left) gives a tour of the new headquarters with (from left) Tina
Nick Icorn and Dr. Sam Miller
More Photos of the
NAUI Headquarters Opening
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Sam Miller Vintage Articles
© 2010 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.
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