Death of a Classmate - Lawrence Allen Shumaker

Larry Shumaker died of cancer on 21 October 2008 at San Diego. Born in Southgate, California in 1932, he entered the Academy in 1950. After graduation he served two years on board Mansfield (DD 728), then he served in four San Diego based submarines. In 1959 he became Assistant Officer in Charge of the Navy’s Bathyscaph Trieste at the Naval Electronics Laboratory in San Diego. Lieutenant Shumaker had a major role in Trieste’s successful 1960 dive to 35.800 feet, the deepest place in the ocean. Afterwards, his deep ocean explorations were recognized by President Eisenhower at the White House.

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 at San Diego as chief test pilot of their newly constructed Deep Quest submersible. He also was test pilot for the two Lockheed built Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRV). During this time he also was founder and first president of the Deep Submersible Pilots Association.

After seven years with Lockheed he joined Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as pilot and operations manager for the manned submersible Alvin. During his tenure, seafloor hydrothermal vents were first discovered on the Mid Atlantic Ridge and near the Galapagos.

After five years at WHOI, in 2000 Larry was employed in a wide variety of ocean related jobs, most involving submersible operations. These included managing a sonar range in the US Virgin Islands, at-sea diving supervisor for submersible operations and director of ocean sciences for a large southern California company. He retired from active undersea work in 2000, doing occasional consulting since then.

Larry Shumaker was recognized internationally as one of the earliest pioneers in manned undersea exploration. When there were only two or three of these vehicles in existence he helped develop important 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, as well as daughter Erica. He is survived by his sister Marsha Olvito of Arizona and daughter Susanne Shumaker of San Diego and nine grandchildren.

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