The SOUTHWEST COUNCIL OF DIVING CLUBS
The Southwest Council of Diving Clubs was born Saturday, June 7, 1958, at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas.
This council was a long desired organization of the Inland Divers of Fort Worth and Hal Lattimore. They put out
the call with the help of the Dallas Divers, for a general organizational meeting and the First Annual Underwater
Spearfishing contest ever held in Texas on an organized basis. Over 300 divers showed up representing 20 clubs
from Kansas City, Missouri to Corpus Christ, Texas.
The major business of the new council was to elect officers and create committees for conducting the organizational business. Officers elected were: Hal Lattimore, President; Bert Smith, Secretary; Bill Flagg, Treasurer Dorothy McDermott, Cor- responding Secretary, and six Vice-Presidents representing their respective areas. They were: Jim Hays, Missouri; Phil Bayouth, Oklahoma; Joe Coffield, Inland Louisiana; Roland Riviere, Coastal Louisiana; Sonny Logan, Inland Texas; George Youmans. Coastal Texas. New Mexico was included in the original area, but no representative was elected from there as the clubs did not show up at the organizational meeting.
On the following Sunday, 115 of the divers entered the first spearfishing contest of a new council. They got 520 pounds of rough fish. Winners were: Bill Flagg, Largest Fish; Jim Pressley, Largest Aggregate; C. R. A. Convair Divers, Club Total Weight; George Herrera and Mack Blaker, the Sportsmanship Award; the Kansas City Frog- men, Club Sportsmanship award; and the Inland Divers, the Rotating Club Trophy.
An added attraction of this first meeting was the selection of "Miss Southwest Council of 1958. Winner was Miss Beth Cox of Fort Worth, and Noell Smith and Wanda Logan were runners-up.
The first year of operation is always the roughest, and Hal Lattimore had his hands full. Then along about January 9, 1959, with the formation of Underwater Activities in Monaco, and the First Skindivers Convention in Boston organizing the Underwater Society of America on Fehruary 22, 1959, our council was well represented in Hal Lattimore and Ray Meisenhalder. Hal turned out to be the legal guide for the Society in its early stages working on the constitution and by-laws. Much valuable information was gained by Hal's experience in this convention. He met with the board in Chicago in September 1959, where the Society's constitution was ratified and decision was made to have the First Annual Convention of the new Underwater Society of America in Houston, Texas, and the Southwest Council as host group.
In June of 1959, the Council held its second annual spearfishing contest again at Possum Kingdom. Saundra Beer of Amarillo was elected queen. Bob Lupton and Morris Jones won the navigation contest. Largest fish was brought in by Bobby Martin of Wichita Falls. Largest team total was brought in by Kirk Johnson, Bobby Martin, and Dan Walker. A total of 406 pounds of rough fish was brought in. This still stands today as a world record for fresh water contests.
Texas divers in council sanctioned spearfishing contests enjoy the sport only after a change in the Texas State fishing laws which were passed through the efforts of organized clubs interested in competitive spearfishing. The Fort Worth Inland Divers working
with the Dallas Divers, worked out a plan to go about helping the matter along. Through their efforts, and Hal Lattimore knowing Senator Doyle Willis, a Bill was passed allowing spearfishing for rough fish only in the Highland Lakes of the Colorado River. This was January 1957. It worked out so well, that in an emergency measure to control the rough fish from over populating the Texas public waters.. another Bill was passed in April of 1957 making it legal to spear fish, as defined rough fish, in the State of Texas. Several Fort Worth divers got to witness Governor Price Daniel sign the Bill into power.
In November of 1959 at the Ark-La-Tex Divers annual "Gar Rodeo" in Shreveport, Louisiana, the second set of officers was elected. They were: George Youmans, President; Sonny Logan, Secretary; Bill Flagg, Treasurer; Joyce Sims, Corresponding Secretary, and four vice-presidents, each representing his respective area; Jay Albeanese, Coastal Louisiana; Gregg Despot, Inland Louisiana, Mack Blaker, Texas Gulf Coast; Sonny Logan, Inland Texas. No vice-president was elected from New Mexico, as there were no representatives present from this area. The new Mid-West Council had now been formed, so Missouri and Oklahoma went into that Council and there were no representatives present from these areas. The Council emblem was adopted by the membership at this meeting. George Youmans had a commercial artist draw it up, and he presented it to the group for ratification.
The giant problem facing this new group of officers was the First Annual Convention of the Underwater Society of America to be held in August in Houston. The full responsibility fell on the back of George Youmans. He did a real fine job and the convention was a success. For his efforts George was elected Diver of the Year by the Council and received a NOGI (1) statue from the Society of Arts and Science Awards.
In the competition field for 1960, there were six contests during the season and winners were determined by a point system. In the Scuba Division winners in order were: Bob Lupton, Ray Meisenhalder, Jack Farleigh and Jack Church. They would have been the team to represent the Council at the Triathlons in New Orleans; unfortunately, Bob Lupton and Ray Meisenhalder were unable to attend. In their places went Tommy Phillips and Hugh Scott. In the Free Divers field, the winners were: Sonny Logan, Mack Blaker, Les Hart and Don Prince. However, Sonny Logan and Les Hart were unable to go to the Nationals in Rhode Island, so Ronnie Caffey and Pete Peterson filled in, where they placed 14th. Our Triathlon team won several individual medals and plaques for their efforts.
At one time during the year, the Council held an elimination contest to pick a team to go to the First Annual Triathlons, which were never held. At this contest, which was held at the off-shore oil rigs south of Galveston, the winners were: Ray Meisenhalder, Johnny Jones, Charles Jackson and Sonny Logan, in that order. This team was never used.
In the midst of all our activities, Captain Jacques Cousteau came to our area and visited with us in March of 1960. We enjoyed meeting with him and viewing his fine motion pictures. In Houston he was made a Deputy Constable for Harris County and given a cowboy hat. In Dallas he got the keys to the city, along with a special plaque from Governor Price Daniel, honoring him as a citizen of Texas, and to be known hence-forth as "Tex" Cousteau. Texas Ranger Captain Jay Banks presented him with a .38 caliber Colt six-shooter and holster sent through the courtesy of Bill Flagg and Quenton Beckett, local sponsors. While he was here, he told us about the World Federation and some of its activities; also that they were having their meeting in Barcelona, Spain that year. He said he thought that the Underwater Society of America would be a leader in the World Federation. He also told us of plans for the Olympic Competition to have speed swimming contests with feet flippers, in addition to spearfishing.
In the Ladies competition for 1960, the winners were: Billie Scott, Margaret Walden and Marge Krueger. The two girl team of Billie Scott and Marge Krueger want on to the Triathlons in New Orleans where they won several nice medals and plaques.
Billie Scott was a close runner-up for the Lady Championship.
The 1961 season got kicked off by a general meeting at the Villa Capri Motel in Austin sponsored by the Austin Underwater Society. New officers elected were: Sonny Logan, President; Bert Smith, Secretary; Bill Flagg, Treasurer; and six area vice-presidents each representing his respective area. Johnny Jones, Dallas-Fort Worth; Ronnie Caffey, Texas Gulf Coast; James Copeland, South Texas; James Canady, Central Texas; Don Beer, Texas Plains; and Joe Coffield, East Texas and Northern Louisiana. George Youmans and Hal Lattimore still remained as directors. The meeting was followed by an awards banquet and dinner dance.
In competition for 1961, a total of 666 divers entered the council sanctioned contests and speared 3400 pounds of rough fish. The Scuba divers got the most of it with 3012 pounds, and the Free divers got 388 pounds. For the record, Mike Riddle of the
Les Hommes de Mer Club of Dallas captured a world record. At the contest of July 9, at Lake Travis he got a 20 pound, 10 ounce Buffalo. Our sanctioned contest of April 9, sponsored by the Longview Scuba Club, was the largest event ever held in inland waters, having 172 divers enter and 4 disqualified., for a total of 168. The Inland Divers of Fort Worth hold the record for having the largest aggregate per team of 406 pounds. The Ark-La-Tex team of Allen, Barber and Hardcastle holds the record with 32 fish per team. Smallest fish belongs to Charles Meggs of Chance- Vought, and is on record as being a whopping 4 ounces. Largest fish goes to George Harmon with a 36 pound Gar. Joe Coffield got a Gar year before last, that weighed 99 pounds, but not in a sanctioned contest, so it does not constitute a world record, in reference to competition.
Scuba winners in order were: Ray Meisenhalder, Jack Farleigh, Jamie Spence, Wally Crutcher, Russell Wheelock, and Bob Lupton. Free Diver winners were: Don Prince, Dick Wilgus, Sonny Logan, Ronnie Caffey and Hans Markenstein, Ladies winners were: Marge Krueger, Ann DuBois, Billie Scott and Dorene Simms.
The 1961-62 season got its start with a general meeting of the Council at the Cedar Lodge in Dallas, sponsored by the Chance-Vought club. New officers elected were: Sonny Logan, re-elected President; Dick Wilgus, Secretary; Bill Flagg, for the fourth time elected Treasurer; and six area vice presidents. They were: Merle Sloan, Dallas-Fort Worth; Jack Rudder, Texas Gulf Coast; Roy Green, Central Texas; Don Beer, Texas Plains; James Copeland, South Texas; and Wiley South, East Texas and Louisiana.
At this meeting there were several constitutional amendments, and the Council By-Laws were adopted. Spearfishing rules were amended to limit the number of contests per year, and to conduct non-spearfishing events. Salt-water contest rules were also suggested, and should be adopted soon. Following the general meeting which had to be completed by mail, there was a barbe- que buffet style dinner, and a Masquerade Ball. The best costume of the evening went to Wiley South of the Longview Scuba Club. A special service award was presented to Bill Flagg for his three years as Council Treasurer. At this meeting the Council membership list contained 38 clubs and 386 members.
The 1962-63 diving season got its start with the first contest of the year sponsored by the Longview Scuba Club. There were seven such contests during the regular season with 610 divers entering and participating. They speared 5,302 pounds of rough fish in competition. Champions for this season in the Scuba Division were: Ray Meisenhalder, Wally Crutcher, Bob Lupton and Jamie Spence. Lady winners were: Dolores Wicker and Claire Drenowitz. Free Diver champions were: Sonny Logan, Don Prince. Dick Wilgus and Jim Aden. Mr. Quenton Beckett was awarded the service award for the year for his contribution in the printing and distribution of the Council's newsletters and booklets. Diver of the Year award went to Sonny Logan for his efforts in helping to ward off a shark attack of a buddy diver while diving in the Gulf of Mexico. He also received the Jack Walden Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship. The Council at this point had 42 clubs and 610 members. Largest yet.
The 1962-63 season actually started with the election of new officers at the general meeting held in Longview in December of 1962. Officers were: Dick Wilgus, President; Ann Cody, Secretary; Jamie Spence, Treasurer. Vice-presidents were: Don Hurley, Jack Rudder, Jim Canady, Arden Guinn, James Copeland and Wiley South.
At this general meeting, some minor rule changes were voted in and new clubs were accepted. Attention was turned to the reports of the two non-spearfishing contests held during the past season. Only 32 divers entered both contests. It was felt that all who entered, enjoyed these different contests, but in general the Council did not turn out in mass for such events due to lack of interest in non-spearfishing events. It was decided to revamp any further efforts to conduct such an event, and try to develop them into something better.
New Council officers were presented at the annual awards banquet sponsored by the Longview Scuba Club in Longview.
During the 1962-63 season, Sonny Logan attended the Underwater Society of America convention in Chicago, representing the Southwest Council, and was elected vice- president of the Underwater Society of America in charge of Scuba Competition. It was felt that the National Scuba Championships should be held on the Texas Gulf Coast and efforts to this end were started.
There were three Executive Committee meetings during the year, and the business of the Council was generally conducted here.
A big step forward for the Southwest Council was the organization of the Southwest Council Instructor's Program. Past-President Sonny Logan started the idea with a proposal that the Executive Committee establish such a program and oversee its accomplishments. Several committee meetings were held to organize, and Mr. Don Beer was elected Director of a nucleus of prominent divers of the area to undertake the program. The organization was named, SCIP, for short. Other members of the SCIP Board were: Sonny Logan, Dick Wilgus, Bill Flagg. Joe Cody, Luther Swift, Dan Milner, Jack Rudder, Bob Hollingsworth, Jim Copeland, and Ray Yillandry. Every effort was made to engage the best teachers for the first seminar to be held in March at S. M. U. in Dallas. The Board of Advisors chosen were: Captain George Bond U. S. N.; Dr. Bruce Halstead; Mr. Al Tillman; Captain Dwain Colby, U. S. M. C.; and Mr. Bill Barada. A rigorous swimming examination was given, as well as a rough written examination after the seminar. Out of 75 applicants, only 52 qualified. An instructor's manual was prepared for them, and each received a stainless steel I.D. card in addition to the regular certificate of merit. It is felt that the program was very successful, and to date has certificated over 500 students to a basic minimum training criteria. Plans are being made to continue this worthy program, and conduct a seminar each year.
During the 1962-63 diving season, the Council consisted of 23 clubs and 430 members. In eight contests, 560 divers entered and speared around 5000 pounds of rough fish. Council Champions were: Ray Meisenhalder, Wally Crutcher, J. D. Jackson and Bill Womack. In the Ladies Division: Dolores Wicker, Dinah Stilwell and Sandra Copeland. In the Free Divers Division: Jim Aden, Dick Wilgus, Charles Meyer and Don Prince. "Diver of the Year" was Marvin Foster for saving the life of a child who nearly drowned. Service award went to Don Beer for his work as SCIP director. This year saw the start of a picture and underwater photography award by Freddie Youmans. Winners were: Bill Flagg, for his fine motion picture, "Belize", and to Jack Preston for stills.
The annual business meeting started at 10:00 a. m., with 45 delegates present. The business went very well with all items being disposed of by 5: 15 that afternoon. A luncheon was provided for all the delegates by the co- sponsors of the Convention, Les Hommes de Mer, and the Dallas Divers. It was held in Dallas at the Holiday Inn West on December 7, 1963. 13 clubs were represented. A cocktail party was provided the night before. Big change for next year was the discussion of the Southwest Council withdrawing from the Underwater Society of America. All clubs voted to withdraw, with one exception. This was not an item on the agenda, so it required passage by 100%. Other items changes were: dues increased to $2.50 per member; bigger and commercialized newsletters; new point system for spearfishing contests, unlimited number of guns allowed in contests; different distribution of trophies; establishment of a permanent award for any kind of noteworthy deed, and added points for lady divers entering competition for the first time. There were many motions defeated or withdrawn.
New officers elected for the 1963-64 season were: Orville Eckhardt, President; Dolores DeLay, Secretary; Johnny Jones, Treasurer. Vice-Presidents are: Eddie Richardson, Charlie Walls, Ed Cousins, Bobby Dickerson, B. Calvin Jarvis and Dan Milner.
The Southwest Council sponsored a bill in the Texas Legislature this session to provide legal spearfishing of catfish. Mr. Jim Canady helped the bill along, but it died in Committee. It will be pushed again the next session.
The Council conducted a raffle to raise money for the general fund. The prize was a $100 gift certificate. Some money was raised.
A Turtle Derby and a Treasurer Hunt was tried this year for interest-getters, and both were successful. Lots of turtles were caught and $500 in cash was given away at the Treasure Hunt.
(Yearbook) BACKThe primary souce for the above history of the Southwest Council of Diving Clubs comes from the Southwest Council's 1965 Official Guide/Yearbook, pages 5 through 9. This yearbook was to be published annually, but only only one yearbook was ever published. Dick Wilgus supplied information from his copy of the yearbook for this history. Dick has been an intregal part of the Southwest Council and SCIP (Southwest Council Instructor's Program) since their inception. As a past President, Secretary, and Slate Editor (Newsletter of the Southwest Council), Dick compiled most of the records and figures that were originally used in creating this history.
Additional interviews and correspondence with Dick Wilgus resulted in more details concerning the Southwest Council. Scanning of text, photographs and other displays for this history were done by Sandy Wilgus, Dick's wife. Compiling of the material supplied by Dick Wilgus, web page creation of this material and interviews of Dick Wilgus were done by Paul Johnston, former SCIP diving instructor # 108.
(1) BACKNogi stands for "New Orleans Grand Isle." These awards evolved from an international spearfishing tournament sponsored by a New Orleans Club held at Grand Isle. Dick Wilgus has an old black and white movie sponsored by Jax Beer promoting the event. They had several categories of awards usually given at the Underwater Society of America Conventions.
(2)BACKPhoto of Joe Cody and Bill Flagg on board the Navy battleship escort USS Crow. On one of the first trips to the Flower Gardens sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural History. Two such trips were made to study and collect marine life for the Museum. First trip was on the USS Crow and the second trip was on the USS Wren. Both trips went out of Galveston.
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