Industry legend Dr Glen Egstrom dies

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Industry legend Dr Glen Egstrom dies

October 09, 2019 - 12:38
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News has broken overnight via the 'Our World Underwater Scholarship Society' that Glen H Egstrom, PHd has died.

Egstrom passed away quietly at home in Los Angeles, on the evening of Monday 7 October 2019, surrounded by his family.

Glen was such a 'giver' and mentor to so many in our wonderful industry! Spencer Slate

It is fitting that OWUSS personnel broke the news because Glen Egstrom was a Founding Director and Director Emeritus of this incredible . This scholarship has been sending generations of young, talented ocean professionals out into the global diving community since 1974, to help educate our future leaders by giving them a relevant insight into all aspects of our sport.

Karen Egstrom, Glen's daughter posted the following statement on social media. "My Dad was so fortunate to have OWUSS as part of his life.

I know (some of) you and please know you have been a constant source of enjoyment and love. Every single scholarship winner who passed through our home is remembered with love and admiration for their contributions to our life, OWUSS, diving and mostly, the family that many of you have become."

What a terrible loss. The world is a little less interesting now...Dave Conlin

Final Legacy

Industry stalwart Maureen Sweeney‎ confirmed that at present there are no intentions for any services. It is therefore rather touching that Glen's family has made it publically know that donations should be made to the '' in memory of Glen Egstrom. The intention is to establish an internship in Dr Egstrom’s name.

A Lifetime of Fitness for Diving

Glen Egstrom grew up actively involved in sports. He played All State Championship Football and was a Basketball athlete in High School, before playing college basketball at the University of North Dakota. After serving in the Korean 'Police Action' he returned to education and joined a National Collegiate Championship Volleyball team at UCLA.

I thought diving was wonderful and learned what had to be done in order to perform properly and safely. Glen Egstrom

Glen's first dive was in 1946 on a US Navy oxygen rebreather, in a fresh water Dakotan lake. His next dive with in Los Angeles where he was given his first pieces off equipment - a two hose Aqua Lung regulator , cartridge belt weights and a set of steel 72s 1,800 psi doubles - by his uncle, the actor Dewey Martin. It is quite probable that the cylinders were some of the first that Jacques Cousteau shipped to the USA.

He was a pretty important guy in my early career. Christian McDonald, Diving Safety Officer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

In 1964 Egstrom became UCLA's Diving Officer, a post he held until 1992. There have been several posts made on social media about how Glen inspired, taught and imparted wisdom, and how much this meant to the diver in question. These comments echo the thoughts of many.

"When I was a graduate student at UCLA, Glen was unimpressed with my YMCA scuba instructor card from Chicago. He said if I wanted to be a real diver I should enroll in the LA County Instructor course. By assisting him with his university classes and 14UICC (where he was a dive master) I finally met his standards." Eric Hanauer

"Besides my instructor card, his wisdom and kind help was instrumental in my success at UCLA." Fletcher Nash

Egstrom was a kinesiology professor at the University of California Los Angeles. It was a logical step to combine fitness with diving, and he conducted research in human physiology and biomechanics underwater, along with cognitive and stress analysis during diving. He subsquently co-authored 'Stress and Performance in Diving' with Dr Arthur Bachrach.

All my life I'll be grateful for the time I spent learning SCUBA and watermanship from Glen. Claudette Dorsey

In 2015 Gretchen Ashton interviewed Glen Egstrom for California Diver Magazine. Her article 'A Lifetime of Fitness for Diving' makes for an entertaining and educational read. (You can find a link to it at the bottom of this article).

Glen Egstrom's contributions to diving cannot be understated. Ashton highlighted in her piece the fact that Egstrom helped influence the birth of both modern day diving and fitness developing principles and safety standards, and instructions for the use of diving equipment.

He was a huge proponent of the importance of physical fitness and swimming ability in diving, and not becoming dependent on equipment

"I met Glen through the UCLA diving program when I was doing my NAUI Instructor Training Course. I then stayed on to teach in the UCLA program. Glen had me involved in the physiology and kinesiology side of diving with a focus on human performance. This subsequently helped me train law enforcement and military diving personnel.

I also served on the LA Sheriff's dive team for 16 years with Glen. Glen was a fountain of knowledge on physiology, human performance underwater, diving equipment design. He was a huge proponent of the importance of physical fitness and swimming ability in diving, and not becoming dependent on equipment. I feel tortunate that he mentored me, and got me involved in being an expert witness in diving related law suits." Mark Lonsdale, commercial deep saturation diver and author of 'United States Navy Diver'

Expert Witness

As Professor Emeritus in the department of Physiological Sciences at the University of California, Glen Egstrom was the principal investigator of UCLA's Diving Safety Research Project for 34 years. He evaluated diving gear, emergency procedures and training methods, he also became a top expert witness in dive-related cases.

He stated that a good expert witness will accept a case based solely on its merit. "There are good plaintiff and good defense cases that deserve to be adjudicated. I rarely worked on plaintiff cases, but I did work on a few that I felt had merit."

Scientific Diving

Christian McDonald, Diving Safety Officer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography told me "Glen Egstrom had a unique and rather profound impact on the whole of diving community, including the Scientific Diving community, as the Diving Officer at UCLA. It perhaps not that well know that he was a founding member of the AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Science).

Personally, I feel so lucky that I knew Glen as well as I did. His mentorship shaped my career in my early days at Scripps. His passing is hard because we are really seeing the last of the first generation of diving safety officers. I know he will be missed by many."


A great NOGI fellow and helped support our efforts. Bob Evans

Glen Egstrom was recognised by his peers and colleagues for his many and varied contributions in our sport.

"We are very sad to lose Glen. He was a well-respected researcher, educator and friend to the recreational diving community, and was among the first class of Honorees for the DEMA Reaching Out Awards (1989 for Education), along with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jack McKenney and Stan Waterman. We’ll miss seeing him every year at the DEMA Awards Party and in the DEMA Show Hall of Fame." Tom Ingram, President & CEO, The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association

  • 1966 Conrad Limbaugh Award (LA County U/W Instructors Association
  • 1969
  • 1974 Los Angeles County Underwater Safety Award
  • 1974 Our World Underwater Diver of the Year
  • 1976 NAUI Leonard Greenstone Diving Safety Award
  • 1978 NAUI Outstanding Contribution to Diving Award
  • 1981 NOGI (Science) Award
  • 1981 NAUI Distinguished Service Award
  • 1982 NAUI Distinguished Service Award
  • 1985 Undersea Medical Society Oceaneering International Award
  • 1989 DEMA Hall of Fame
  • 1989 DEMA Reaching Out Award
  • 1991 LA County U/W Instructors Association Founders Award
  • 1993 Channel Islands Council of Divers Education and Diving Safety Award
  • 1994 DAN / Rolex Diver of the Year
  • 1995 UHMS Craig Hoffman Memorial Award
  • 2000 NAUI Hall of Fame
  • 2001 Los Angeles County U/W Instructors Association, Outstanding Instrutor Award
  • 2001 American Accademy of Underwater Science (AAUS) Service Award
  • 2002 Beneath The Sea Diver of the Year Award
  • 2002 NAUI Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2003 Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award

OWUSS Tributes

Key personnel who have held voluntary roles with the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society were quick to pay tribute.

Lars Kirkegaard

his big heart, warmth, open-minded spirit

"It is always sad when giants fall! In this case - it is one of the diving industries very large giants that are no longer here.

I joined OWUSS as the Scandinavian Coordinator in the early 2000´s and have enjoyed the warmth and wisdom of Glen since the beginning.

Glen was behind countless publications and manuals on diving, and gave birth to much of the science and physiology that defines modern diving today. But it is if for his big heart, warmth, open-minded spirit and always welcoming attitude that I will remember this great diver!

Robin MacFadden Parish

He was the backbone of OWUSS for many years, offering wisdom and wisecracks to all

"Dr Glen Egstrom was a Founding Director of the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society and one of my first hosts when I was a Rolex Scholar. I will miss his big smile, devilish jokes, and giant bear hugs. He was the backbone of OWUSS for many years, offering wisdom and wisecracks to all. So glad that he joined our last Board of Directors meeting by phone... He gave us encouragement to keep up the very good and important work of the Scholarship Society."

Jim Standing

[this] gentle giant of a man... was instantly welcoming...he would always have the time to talk

"I met Glen when I became involved with the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society as European Coordinator in 2004.

This larger than life, gentle giant of a man, both in physical stature and in his place in the diving establishment, was instantly welcoming and I had the great pleasure of propping up the bar with him one night discussing diving, mostly his incredible adventures, decompression and my own theories about heating during dives.

Through the next 15 years he was ever present at Scholarship events and dive shows and he would always have the time to talk and catch up. What an incredible guy who always had a twinkle in his eye."

Maureen Sweeney

It is best when one does volunteering with those they like; magic can and has happened

"I was working as a dive guide in Hurghada, Egypt in 1989. There were only two dive operators at that time, and I was desperately homesick. One day Glen and Donna Egstrom and Art and Susan Bachrach show up on my boat. I had no idea who they were, but I sure knew right away each on their own was interesting and inspirational, and together, they were great fun.

I also learned they were a bit more involved with the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society than my casual volunteering and full-time shenanigans. They convinced me that if I ever got back to the states, I should get involved more involved. I did, and have celebrated this decision ever since. It is best when one does volunteering with those they like; magic can and has happened."

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