In Memoriam: Lawrence A. Shumaker


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has received word of the death of former employee Lawrence (Larry) A. Shumaker on October 21.   He was 76.

Larry was born in Southgate, California, in 1932.  He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and graduated in 1954.  In 1959, he became assistant officer in charge of the Navy’s Bathyscaph Trieste at the Naval Electronics Laboratory in San Diego. From 1964-65 he was assigned as chief pilot of the new Trieste II.  There he was involved in the search for and investigation of the lost nuclear submarine Thresher.  In 1966 he resigned from active duty but remained in the Naval Reserve where he was promoted to the rank of commander in 1969.

Following active Navy service, he joined Lockheed’s Missile and Space Company in San Diego where he was chief pilot of their newly constructed Deep Quest manned submersible. He also was test pilot for the Navy’s two, Lockheed built, Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRV) that were later based at North Island Naval Air Station.   During this time he also was founder and first president of the Deep Submersible Pilots Association.  

Larry joined the Institution staff in 1973 as a research specialist under Earl Hayes.  He was transferred to Alvin/Lulu operations in 1977.  He left the Institution in 1978 and returned in 1993 as a temporary relief expedition leader in the deep submersible operations group under Barrie Walden.  He then changed status to a casual basis in 1993 and left in 1996.

Larry is recognized internationally as one of the earliest pioneers in manned undersea exploration.  At a time when there were only two or three of these vehicles in existence he helped develop new technologies and techniques many of which are still in use today.     

Larry was preceded in death by his wife, Corky, sons Lawrence and Kurt, and daughter Erica. He is survived by his sister Marsha Olvito of Arizona and daughter Susan Shumaker of San Diego as well as nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on November 22, at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 3502 Clairemont Drive,  San Diego, CA.

Donations in honor of Cmdr. Shumaker may be made to San Diego Hospice, 4311 Third Ave., San Diego, CA 92103.


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