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Bill Jones NAUI Co-Founder Al Tillman is Dead at 76
 © Copyright 2004    Bill Jones    World Rights Reserved

Seattle, Washington.  Albert Alvin Tillman, co-founder of NAUI died January 16, 2004 on his 76th birthday of natural causes. 

Al TillmanBorn in Los Angeles, Tillman attended the University of Southern California where he earned an undergraduate degree in Public Administration while playing football for the USC Trojans.  During World War II, he was stationed in Hawaii, he was taking classes at the University of Hawaii, and he was diving there in his spare time.  After the war, he attended graduate school at Loyola earning his tuition by working as a professional wrestler.

In 1953, Tillman and Bev Morgan went to Scripps Institute of Oceanography to take an oceanography course designed for scientists by Conrad “Connie” Limbaugh.  Tillman and Morgan used the course outline as a basic template to designed the first organized public classes in scuba diving.

Tillman was working part-time as a contributing editor for Skin Diver Magazine in 1960 when he and fellow editor Neal Hess created the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).  Seventy-two of their best candidates and eight instructors met at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston to take a six-day course with only fifty-three of the candidates graduating.  This was the first international instructor certification course marking a whole new era in recreational diving education.  Tillman ran the agency until 1969 and continued actively training Scuba instructors for NAUI until the mid-1980’s.

In 2001, Tillman was one of the inaugural inductees into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame along with other pioneer divers including Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Hans Hass, and Jack McKinney.

The family requested that no cards or flowers be sent.  Tillman’s cause of death was listed as a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Editor Note:  Bill Jones, The Scuba Guy, is a PADI Master Instructor and a Published and Award-Winning Writer

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