Employee Portrait Gallery—Dick Edwards

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Dick Edwards, left, and Marine Operations Coordinator Don Moller splice a cable on the WHOI pier in 1982 in preparation for Oceanus voyage 118. (Peter Wiebe)

 

When Dick Edwards arrived one evening in 1947 to take a summer job at WHOI, the guard on duty took him to the shop on the ground floor of the Bigelow Lab. There he found Al Vine, Joe Worzel, and Gordon Hamilton preparing an instrument for installation on a submarine the next morning in New London, CT. “I was pretty handy,” Dick says, so he rolled up his sleeves and joined the all-night effort. Except for another school year at Columbia University and a four-year Navy recall for the Korean War (he had already served from 1941 to 1946), Dick has been at WHOI ever since, always well known for pitching in wherever he could help.

Initially, he worked primarily with WHOI geologists and geophysicists, logging considerable time at sea for coring, seismic work (which involved launching explosives from an Atlantis whaleboat), and related adventures (as well as a little music). He enjoyed going to sea and says one of the best cruises was an early two-ship seismic survey during the summer of 1950 with the first Atlantis and Caryn. (Asked about the worst cruise, he says there were “a lot of them,” often depending on the people involved, the weather—or both, but he also says his time at sea was “not enough.”) When the U.S. Navy assigned the former deep-sea salvage and rescue tug Chain to Woods Hole in 1957, Dick went to the yard to supervise outfitting of the ship for science, thus beginning his transition to marine operations. He was WHOI’s marine superintendent from 1960 until he retired in 1988, responsible for the day-to-day logistics of keeping a fleet running, and then served many years in a casual position as port captain.

Dick’s career has been filled with interesting projects ranging from chairing the ship design committee for Atlantis II to involvement in recovering Alvin after it sank. He lists as a highlight supervising the 1986 location and recovery of a helicopter that disappeared en route from Stamford, CT, to Nantucket with Christopher Haebler Frantz, 22, and two friends aboard. Frantz’s mother initiated the search after official sources had abandoned their attempts. Grateful for the successful recovery, Mrs. Frantz established a WHOI summer student fellowship in her son’s name.

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