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August 3, 2021

James Church

On December 31, 2002, James Church, a pioneer in underwater
photography, died at his home in Miami Lakes, Florida, after a
brief illness.
On December 31, 2002, James Church, a pioneer in underwater photography, died at his home in Miami Lakes, Florida, after a brief illness. From his early diving experiences in the Navy, in an old-style hard-hat suit in Adak, Alaska in 1953, he went on to become a renowned authority on underwater photography. As an author, educator and lecturer, Jim was able to share unselfishly his knowledge with countless individuals, many of whom are today’s leading underwater photographers worldwide.

Jim Church was born in 1932 in Detroit, Mich. The family migrated to California during World War II due to the failing health of his father. After his father’s death, Jim became the man of the house at age 13. At that time, he started working for Bell Products cleaning the shop and continued there throughout his school years, learning the welding trade. Graduating from Napa High school with the class of 1950, he will be remembered by many for his musical talent.

After school Jim joined the Navy for a five-year hitch as a welder. He realized that without a college education, he would always remain an enlisted man, of sorts, throughout life. Returning home from active duty, he graduated from Napa Junior College and San Jose State with a degree in business. He later received his Master’s Degree from the University of Hawaii. His life as an educator began as a business instructor, retiring from Gilroy High School. During his time in Gilroy, one of his favorite locations was the Monterey Bay area during which time he had great interest and provided support in the development of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Jim is survived and lovingly remembered by his brother David Church and sister-in-law Doris Church of Napa, sister Nina Church Smith of Santa Rose and nephews, Harold Hayes, Jerry Hayes, David Hayes, John Smith, Ed Church and Lisa Church and their respective families.

Courtesy of “Rodale’s Scuba Diving” magazine.

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