Posted by Steve Herbert on June 25, 2004 at 10:47:13:
In Reply to: Mr. Meister's history posted by Jeff shaw on June 24, 2004 at 22:01:56:
Remembering Paul Meister
Wednesday night, June 23rd, the diving community lost a very influential member. Paul Meister was known as a leader, by those with more recognizable names within the diving community. I became a friend of Paul's in 1982; hooking up with an informal group of recreational divers who volunteered for research and a coastal monitoring projects. White Point Shore Station was the group's self given name and was where Paul came to spend 40+ years studying the nesting habits garabaldi , sea urchin and the hydrothermal vents there. Nearly 100 of us would come to the site nearly every weekend, providing volunteer labor on a variety of projects. At one point an underwater trail was created with plaques placed a various stations to give divers a self guided tour. Sadly, much of this work was destroyed by the El Nino Storms of 1983-84. White Point in the late 70's and early 80's provided a home for close to 1000 divers over the years to focus their efforts with Paul. It was this premise of divers informally gathering at a known location at a given time which because one of the basic tenants of the Sand Eaters Beach Diving Group.
White Point is where Paul met up and connected with his wife Dodie. They married in 1983 (if memory serves correctly) in an underwater wedding ceremony held off the back of a dive boat, anchored in approximately 25' of water at Catalina Island. Their vows were pre-recorded and a speaker was dropped over the side where the wedding party gathered as bride and groom pantomime to the sound track. The most memorable moment was when the boat began to pivot on its anchor line with the entire wedding party chasing the speaker around the bottom through the ceremony. A reception was held the next day at a friend's back yard swimming pool.
I periodically connected with Paul through the years at dive shows and occasional symposiums he'd organize through a collection of the groups he belonged to. Each time we'd talk for hours about how recreation divers can be used to aide and create research and how they might be able to use the computer technologies of the day (CompuServe, AOL, Genie) to communicate and share information with each other. As the internet developed the realization came that people could self-publish on line, and a push was made by Paul to get his information out of the corner of the garage and onto the net. Hence the establishment of "www.ecotrack.com". In the last couple of years, Paul organized the "Peanut Conference", where a small group of recreational research divers would publish their work in conference proceedings and share their efforts with others. A yahoo groups list "Salt & Peanuts" was put together at the time. In 1999, I ran into Paul again as the Sand Eaters were lobbying to pressure the owners of the former Marineland property at Long Point to reopen public access to the beach. At a meeting of the Greater Los Angeles Council of Divers I found Paul sitting on the board and he encouraged me to become a board member. It has been because of Paul that I've stuck with GLACD over the years in this capacity.
Paul worked tirelessly just below the surface of organizations with environmental monitoring and research programs focused on the ocean specifically here in Southern California. He was a member of dozens of diving organizations over the years including the TRW Sea Divers, the LA County Underwater Instructors Association, Oceans Foundation, GLACD, Catalina Conservancy as well as many others I'm not aware of. He was never really interested in the "organizations" as much as how he could forward underwater research projects involving recreational divers through them. In the 60's and 70's he had a major hand in creating the Junior Skin Diving Programs held in local park pools through out the city and county of Los Angeles. An LA County Underwater Instructor, Paul taught countless Rock, Rips and Reef sessions, ADP's, instructor training courses and dive club and dive groups presentations. In 1997, NAUI presented Paul with the Dr. Charlie Brown Memorial award for "service to diving that was/is voluntary and non-profit."
Paul has influenced tens of thousands of divers in the Southern California Diving community and hopefully you'll hear from its leaders over the next few weeks on how Paul has influenced them. Paul was a true friend and gentlemen who only offered encouragement to me no matter what direction I might be working on involving diving and the water. My most recent memory was spending an hour with him talking on the sidewalk, leaning against a car under a street light after a GLACD meeting about various approaches to fisheries management, recreational research diving and themes near and dear to us both. He will be truly missed. -Steve Herbert
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