The folks at PADI are mourning the loss of Jack Lavanchy, a pioneer of the European dive community, who passed away on January 27 at age 87.
A Swiss native, Lavanchy helped cofound PADI Europe and was a major force behind the organization’s growth in the 1980s and 1990s.
He completed his first scuba course in 1952 and was active with Glaukos, Switzerland’s oldest dive club, serving as vice-president, president, secretary and delegate to the Swiss Diving Federation. In the early 1960s, Lavanchy become an instructor. Inspired by seeing Jacques Cousteau’s “The Silent World,” Lavanchy became Switzerland’s exclusive agent for the Spirotechnique scuba gear line in 1965, and Germany’s in 1968.
In 1983, Lavanchy and a partner founded PADI European Services, and the following year founded the PADI European College.
In 1988, PADI European Services transitioned into PADI Europe, which was one of the forerunners of today’s PADI EMEA.
Lavanchy served as PADI Europe’s CEO and president in the 1980s and 1990s, and in 1996 he helped launch the Project AWARE Foundation in Europe.
Among his numerous honors and titles, Lavanchy served on the advisory board of the Historical Diving Society, was an honorary vice president of the European Underwater Federation, and was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
PADI, in a statement, said:
“The PADI family joins our industry colleagues around the world in mourning Jack’s passing and extend our condolences and sympathies to his family. His contributions will be missed, but Jack himself will be missed the most.”