In Memory

James M. Fuller

Jim Fuller - One of the nicest guys around!

Jim Fuller

September 9, 1934

April 20, 2000

Jim Fuller was an extra ordinary man who made an indelible impression on those that came in contact with him during his life. Warm, friendly, outgoing,doing for others, professional and having a good time are just some of the words that would describe the essence of his personality. In other words, he was one of the good guys of this world.

My first contact with Jim came in 1972 at Scuba Point on Highway 2222 just about 100 yards before the intersection of Highway 2222 and Highway 620. Scuba Point was a new dive shop facility that had just opened its doors for business near Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. Chuck Hamblin was the manager and I was the assistant manager. One day as I was coming from the indoor pool area into the main store area, I saw Jim and his son Rusty, who then was probably of junior high school age, talking to Chuck. Jim and Rusty either had just come from diving at Lake Travis or were about to go diving that day. Jim was finishing up a career as a jet fighter pilot in the United States Air Force and was closing out his career at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin. This base facility has now become the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The conversation centered around Jim being a scuba diving instructor and his teaching experiences with a dive club while he was stationed at Taiwan in the Air Force. He told of difficulties in conducting classes because of rough waves and currents in and around the entry points for diver training areas. Jim was a soft spoken friendly guy who went out of his way to do favors for his friends.

Around 1974, another diving facility, J. Rich Sports, with an indoor pool and classroom was opened up in Austin at Northcross Mall on the southwest corner of Burnet Road and Anderson Lane. Jim, now retired from the Air Force, became the manager of the dive shop section of the sporting goods store. Jim belonged to two dive instructor organizations, NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). NAUI's motto of "Dive Safety Through Education" Jim took to heart in his teaching of scuba diving and the organizing of instructors under his leadership at the store. Jim's dive classes always exceeded the minimum standards required for diver certification. A student graduating from Jim's class was well equipped to go out and safely enjoy the underwater world. Basic CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and in-water diver rescue were included in the beginning diving classes.

As time went on, the national diver certification agencies gradually increased their training standards. Jim was always a step ahead in developing quality diver training. In the student's first open water dive, Jim would have the students enter the San Marcos River at City Park and swim upstream towards the water fall coming from Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas. Halfway upstream students would practice diver rescue and diver entry techniques. Afterwards, the students would complete their journey upstream and then have a leisurely float back to the starting point. This exercise taught the students the importance of paying attention to and dealing with the dangers of strong ocean currents.

In the mid seventies, Jim started the Diver Training Informal Classes through the Texas Union at the University of Texas. These classes were open to students at the University of Texas as well as to the public. These classes ranged in size from 50 to 100 students. To be able to train this many students at one time, Jim had developed a large number of helping instructors, assistant instructors and safety divers. Jim made sure that these students learned how to safely dive while having a good time. After the last training dive of the course, Jim would take the students to a local pizza shop or have a diver cookout at LCRA park at Lake Travis. At the end of the meal, diver certification diplomas and certification cards were handed out to the graduating students. Jim had beautiful handwriting. Many of the diplomas were inscribed with his beautiful calligraphy work. Jim was a good friend to the members of the University Underwater Society, the scuba diving club of the University of Texas at Austin. Jim supported the club by donating gifts from J. Rich Sports and presenting many of his wonderful underwater slide shows for entertainment.

To promote the fun of Texas diving, Jim would organize campouts at Lake Travis in conjunction with diver training. Overnight diving trips to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and to the Flower Gardens (a reef structure in the Gulf of Mexico) were created. To promote more remote diving, Jim started a diver travel company called Sport Diver Tours. He would lead divers to destinations like San Salvador and Cat Cay, Bahamas; Florida, Jamaica, the Bay Islands of Honduras,and Belize. Jim became a wonderful underwater photographer. His pictures represent what Jim was all about, friendship, good times, travel, teaching diving, and underwater photography. He inspired those around him to take up the challenge of underwater photography. This cadre of underwater photographers will always remember all of the fun times we spent developing the skill of underwater photography, recording forever what we had seen underwater and going to the extra effort required to pull off underwater photography on a trip. The underwater photography brought out the friendly competitive spirit in our circle of friendship in underwater photography.

I not only had the fortunate experience of knowing Jim all these years, but of working with him. Jim granted me the privilege of teaching diving and underwater photography with him at J. Rich Sports part time from around 1974 to 1978 and full time from 1978 to around 1988. In all that time of working and traveling with him, I do not ever remember Jim speaking a cross word to me. When Jim moved to Florida around 1992 to help his wife take care of her parents, he always remained in touch with me through Christmas letters and emailing me some humorous tidbit of a story. While at J. Rich Sports, Jim's warm friendly nature created a fluid group of friendly souls from J. Rich's customers, students, and instructors which became "Our Dive Gang." Jim was the glue that held this group together. We are all very grateful to have participated in his large family of friends. This circle of friends happened because of Jim's friendly outgoing nature. We are all richer for and thankful that Jim Fuller touched our lives.

Paul Johnston - June 18,2000

Photographs by Jim Fuller - May 1982; Cat Cay, Bahamas

Cat Cay, Bahamas - May 1982 - Photo by Jim Fuller

Cat Cay, Bahamas - May 1982 - Photo by Jim Fuller

Jim Fuller - His Life Story

Jim Fuller Memorial Photography Page

Andrea Fuller

© Copyright - 2000 - Paul Johnston

Paul's Place

Hosted by