The diving industry today is mourning the loss of the man who introduced more than 10 million people into the sport of scuba diving. John J. Cronin, co-founder and CEO of PADI, The Professional Association of Diving Instructors, died yesterday at his home in Temecula, California at the age of 74.
Cronin, one of the most influential men in the diving industry and current President of The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) would have completed his 50th year in the industry next year.
A native of Albany, New York, John joined the Marine Corps where he served from 1947-1948 being recalled to service in the Korean conflict from 1950 to 1952. In 1959, John accepted the position of East Coast Promotions Manager for U.S. Divers Company in New York City. In 1964, John became the first person in the history of the diving industry to surpass wholesale sales of $1 million dollars. Rising rapidly through the ranks, John was promoted to Marketing Director in March of 1969. Later that same year, he was appointed CEO and then President of U.S. Divers, a position he held until his retirement in September of 1985.
While attending a diving banquet in December of 1961, John met Ralph Erickson, a professional educator. A friendship immediately developed, and over the next several years their concept of a new, professional diver training organization was developed, this was PADI. In 1966, Cronin, in conjunction with Erickson, formalized the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI, as it is known today.
Thanks to John’s leadership, PADI, is currently recognized as the largest single entity in the diving industry with retail sales in excess of $250 million. PADI has offices in 7 countries, over 100,000 individual members and 4,600 Retail and Resort locations located in 175 countries worldwide. In 2000, PADI issued its 10 millionth diving certification.
Cronin served on the board of the DEMA from 1971 until 1993, at one point being the President, and again elected as President in 1999, 2000, and 2002. He gave his time unselfishly in promoting the industry and the sport championing new diver acquisition, retailer, resort, and manufacturer growth, and fighting legislation that would negatively impact the industry.
Cronin was also heavily active in politics being actively involved with Republican candidates at the local, state, and federal levels for over 20 years. He raised millions of dollars while serving as the treasurer or finance chairman for over 60 campaigns, including several for former Governor Pete Wilson of California and past Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Cronin are presently pending.
For questions or more detailed information, please contact,
Bob Coleman Director of Marketing (949) 858-7234, (800) 729-7234 x 2538 [email protected]