Many members of Indonesia's water sport and dive industry were shocked to learn of the sudden death of Larry Smith on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, in Sorong, Papua (Irian Jaya).
Born in Texas in 1950, Smith has worked in Indonesia since 1989 as a divemaster and "start-up specialist" helping many local dive companies successfully launch their businesses.
World's Greatest Divemaster
Only half-jokingly referred to by friends and admirers as "the world’s greatest divemaster," Smith had nearly four decades of diving experience to his credit having worked in his native Texas, Oklahoma, Cuba, Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Bonaire and Belize.
But it was unarguably Indonesia where Larry Smith felt most at home, both on land or below the ocean's surface. First arriving in Indonesia in 1989, he led expeditions on live aboard dive boats throughout remote waters in Eastern Indonesia, cataloging along the way undiscovered dive spots and exotic underwater fauna that he lovingly termed as "critters."
Shortly after his arrival in Indonesia, Smith approached a young woman in a Yogya shopping mall to ask help deciphering an Indonesian language phrase book. That woman, Dewi Asih, stayed on and formalized her relationship with her burly student, marrying Larry and with him becoming the parents of a charming 9 year old daughter, Breezy.
A long-time Bali resident Dave Van Rooy had the following comments when asked to recall his friend and dive companion, Larry Smith: "Larry was often referred to as the 'world's greatest divemaster' and I've yet to hear anyone even hint at disputing that. He opened up so many areas and kinds of diving, especially here in Indonesia, it boggles one's mind. He guided and inspired so many of us and was so incredibly influential in opening our eyes to the wonders of diving, and getting us to truly appreciate all that we see and experience. But aside from that, he was truly a gentle, warm, compassionate human being and a great friend to many of us -- he was always there to help and to recite incredible stories. Larry was a trooper to the end, and we and the rest of the world, will miss him greatly."
While exact details surrounding Smith's death remain vague, he was reportedly working a dive trip in Papua when he was stricken with pneumonia. Initially hospitalized in Fak-Fak, his confdition worsened and he was moved to a hospital in Sorong where he succumbed to his illness.
In addition to his wife, Dewi, and daughter, Breezy, in Bali, he is also survived by three adults sons in the U.S.A. - Casey, Trevor and Tim - and his Mother, Eveline Smith.
Larry Smith remains were scheduled to be cremated in Denpasar on Sunday, March 25, 2007.
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