Friday, June 14, 2024

Obituary – Robert (Bob) Hollis


Bob Hollis’s life, full of adventure, came to a peaceful close on January 4, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah, with family surrounding Bob’s side.

Born on April 25, 1937, in Orland, California, to Robert and Elinor Hollis, Bob leaves a legacy as a pioneer, entrepreneur, businessman, and, most importantly, a loving father and grandfather.

Bob accomplished more in 85 years than most and lived his life to the fullest. He was a risk-taker who truly did what he loved and inspired others to do the same. If there wasn’t a way, he created one.

Bob will be remembered by many as a groundbreaking influence in both the sport of scuba diving and underwater photography.  Bob’s love of the ocean began in 1955 after reading an article about underwater exploration in Popular Mechanics.

Following his first scuba experience, Bob became obsessed with the water, becoming one of the earliest underwater photographers on the West Coast and establishing the Underwater Photographic Society of Northern California in 1966.  Additionally, Bob was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Underwater Parks and Reserves (California State Parks Department), where he assisted in exploring the coastline and identifying future areas for preservation, including Point Lobos, La Jolla, and the Salt Point State Park.

Bob Hollis with his UW camera systems in 1975
Bob Hollis with his UW camera systems in 1975

A true entrepreneur, when Bob realized that the scuba diving and photography equipment available at that time did not meet his needs, he set about developing his own.  All this was done while Bob continued to attend school for business and engineering and worked at Standard Oil to support his young family.

In 1966, Bob opened the Anchor Shack dive shop in Hayward, California, and began developing underwater camera housing, strobes, and hand lights, which served as the jumping-off point for his company Oceanic.  By 1976, the Oceanic product line had completely developed, ultimately turning Bob and the Oceanic brand into leaders in the scuba diving community.

Over the course of his lifetime, Bob founded many companies, including American Underwater Products, Pelagic Pressure Systems, ROMI Enterprises, and the renowned scuba diving brands Oceanic, Hollis, and Aeris. Bob wanted everyone to experience scuba diving and gave thousands around the world the opportunity to do so.

Andrea Doria Sinking - 1956
Andrea Doria Sinking – 1956

Using his experience, Bob helped create an underwater saturation system in 1978 for the Andrea Doria shipwreck. The system was attached to the wreck at a depth of 240’ for up to seven days, allowing divers to explore the wreck for several days without swimming to the surface. Bob logged more dives than anyone on the wreck and, in 1981, served as the underwater photographer for the nationally-aired film called “Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter,” detailing the team’s goal of recovering the bank safe from the famed sunken Italian ocean liner.

In addition to developing photography and scuba diving equipment, Bob led some of the first dive trips to Cozumel, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Galapagos.  He also led tours to the remote destination of Papua New Guinea, where he later built a family home and destination dive resort for other underwater enthusiasts.

Over his storied career, Bob received many awards and achievements, including the NOGI Award and the DEMA Reaching Out Award. He was an inductee of the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.

Throughout all his professional success, Bob’s greatest achievement was his family, including his children Debbie (Jon), Mike (Molly), Nick (Brittany), and Zach (Danica), grandchildren Heather, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Caitlin, Robert, Seth, Preston, Olivia and Sloane, and great-grandchildren Benjamin, Natalie, Henry, Eleanor, Samuel, Ian, and Colin. Bob shared his passion for the ocean and traveling the world with them, including abalone diving trips on the California coast, family live-aboard dive trips, motorcycle adventures, and creating memories for many lifetimes. His family and friends will deeply miss him.

The family will be holding private services in Orland, California, and asks those interested in honoring Bob to share your story and photos via social media. If you would also like to share those with the family, they can be sent to In lieu of flowers, please donate to an ocean conservation charity in Bob’s memory.

Bob Hollis
Huish Outdoors
Huish Outdoors
Huish connects people and their passion, with the best brands in dive.