I sadly learned today that Dr. Richard Cooper has passed away, moving on to higher explorations. While one could write volumes on his technical contributions to the marine sciences and manned intervention of the seafloor, he will unquestionably be remembered for his enthusiasm for his work, our community, and sparking excitement in all of us for the what the future of ocean exploration holds.
Ever so briefly, in more recent years, Dick was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut and was the former Director of the National Undersea Research Center. Prior to working at UConn, Dick led theManned Undersea Science & Technology (MUST) group for the National Marien Fisheries Service. Early in his career he served a pivotal role in many of the US’ first experiments in saturation diving and undersea habitation, including serving as an aquanaut on the Navy’s Sealab III program off California, Tektite in the Virgin Islands, and Helgoland in the Gulf of Maine.
His work and interests later in his career returned to these passions for undersea habitation, developing several concept designs for the Ocean Technology Foundation, and the concept of SeaBase, which he pursued with his youthful enthusiasm right until his last days.
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting and talking with Dick several times over the years, and can attest to the fact that he was among the few who not only share the visions for a new life in the sea, but believe that the future survival of our species is truly dependent on it. Dick’s lifelong work in this field was an uphill battle against amazing odds, and yet he managed to live the dream better than any could expect. Dick was an inspiration to me, and to many, and will forever be remembered as a forfather, pioneer, and mentor within this crazy world we live in.
Godspeed Dick – you can now defy all limits, and explore frontiers never imagineable.