On 8 August 2023, the world bid farewell to Stan Waterman, a trailblazer in underwater filmmaking, who passed away surrounded by family at his Lawrenceville, NJ residence. Celebrating a century of life, his wife of 73 years, Susy, was by his side, echoing their inseparable bond.
Stan's tale began as a young boy enamoured with the sea, diving into its depths with nothing but a spear in hand. His naval service during World War II further cultivated this connection. Post-war, his journey took a serendipitous turn when he dived into a glacial pond in Maine, a modest start to an illustrious career that would see him traverse the world's oceans.
A Dartmouth College alumnus, Stan honed his literary prowess under the tutelage of the renowned poet Robert Frost. Merging this with a self-taught passion for photography and filmmaking, he pioneered underwater cinematography. His innovations included crafting bespoke underwater camera housings and introducing the first dive boat operation in the Bahamas with the Zingaro.
Stan's films were a revelation in an era preceding television's dominance. He toured America's lesser-known avenues, presenting hand-spliced films. His live narrations, underscored with melodies from a simple tape recorder, entranced audiences. Technical hiccups, like an occasional burning film reel, were artfully salvaged with poetic anecdotes.
His magnum opus, 'The Call of the Running Tide', encapsulated a family adventure in Tahiti and captivated audiences as a National Geographic gem. Another crowning achievement, 'Blue Water, White Death', unveiled in 1971, presented some of the earliest encounters with the formidable great white shark.
In his personal space, awards jostled for room with personal treasures like rare shells, cherished cigar boxes, and a well-loved copy of Kenneth Graham’s 'Wind In The Willows'.
Stan's later years were awash with global dive expeditions and literary pursuits, encapsulating his memories in 'Sea Salt' and 'More Salt'.
His legacy as a filmmaker, conservationist, and family man is enshrined in the shared memories of his children, Gordy, Susannah, and Gar, and further echoed by six grandsons and two great-granddaughters.
In remembrance, Stan desired an epitaph inspired by Masefield’s 'Sea Fever':
“I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call. And a clear call that cannot be denied.”