Dr. Richard Boyd -
Dive Community Contribution Award
Presented at the WUAA Symposium
October 26, 2019
Prior to 1960 Dick Boyd was one of the earliest adopters of sport diving technology in the United States. He became one of the first scuba diving instructors in Wisconsin through a newly founded training agency from just south the border in Illinois called PADI – the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Subsequently, Dick trained hordes of new divers, outfitted them through his store Petrie Sports, and led them on expeditions to many of the newly discovered shipwrecks of the Great Lakes.
In the late 1960’s Dick participated in diving, excavation and the raising of the Civil War-era schooner Alvin Clark from 140 ft deep under Green Bay. Lead by Mr. Frank Hoffman, the expedition was nationally televised and ship dubbed “Mystery Schooner from 19 Fathoms”. This excavation and recovery of artifacts was commonplace for the times; the actual raising of the vessel was unique. Dick designed new underwater suction dredges and put in countless hours carefully screening sediment removed from deep within its hull so that even the small artifacts such as buttons and needles were not overlooked. The carefully collected artifacts were kept together as a collection and with the Alvin Clark itself, were turned into a floating museum, which eventually found its way to Menominee, Michigan. Although much effort was made to acquire funding to properly conserve the ship, the money promised never materialized and the Alvin Clark eventually succumb to the elements, was bulldozed and removed to a landfill. The lessons learned through this unsuccessful attempt at resurrecting a sailing ship from the bottom of the Great Lakes has been the subject of many of Dick’s articles and lectures presented across the country. His testimonial is a poignant statement of why we leave sites like this undisturbed on the bottom lands today.
In the 1970's, Dick and other shipwreck divers and maritime historians became concerned about the regular removal of artifacts from shipwrecks. As a result, he was actively involved in discussions of the possibility of establishing an underwater shipwreck “park” in one of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes. The discussions between the Wisconsin Historical Society, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, and Wisconsin’s Coastal Management Program lead to a suggestion that a committee be formed to further assess the merits of the proposal. The economic slowdown of the early 1980's broke the momentum the participants had created and the interest in Wisconsin’s rich maritime heritage languished.
Following the passing of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act (ASA) of 1987, Dick participated in the citizen’s working group with Wisconsin State Representatives that led to the development of the Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program at Wisconsin Historical Society. Also founded in 1987, and from the time of its inception, Dick actively served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association (WUAA), and remained on the board for over 25 years. He published volumes of articles in the organization’s quarterly scholarly news publication, Wisconsin’s Underwater Heritage.
Additionally Dick conducted independent field research into many Great Lakes shipwrecks and maritime sites, inundated fur trade sites, native fish weirs and others and has held a Wisconsin State Land Archaeology Permit for archaeological survey work on various sites for most of these 25 years. Historical research that Dick conducted on Dan Seavey, the only convicted pirate on the Great Lakes, was published into a book (A Pirate Roams Lake Michigan: The Dan Seavey Story) with proceeds from sales turned over to fund WUAA survey projects.
In the 1990's, Dick and his partner built a successful business in suburban Milwaukee, Global Manufacturing, that focused on designing and manufacturing equipment used by the commercial and sport diving industries. He used his design skills to manufacture underwater documentation kits for archaeologists in Wisconsin. Dick graciously outfitted WUAA and the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program with these kits.
Dick has served on the Editorial Review Board for Wisconsin Maritime Museum for the past five years and continues to write and produce articles for their publication, The Anchor. He also is a member and contributor to the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, the volunteer and collection arm of the Maritime Collection for Milwaukee Public Library.
For ten years, Dick served on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Diving Safety Control Board for OSHA Compliance and commented on diving plans for underwater archaeological survey. His current involvement with the Society is as part of the merry band of volunteers researching Milwaukeean and World Record Deep Diver, Max Gene Nohl, and other early diving innovators and innovations that occurred here in Wisconsin.
For his lifetime of archaeological and shipwreck preservation efforts through research, fieldwork, lectures, writings, and service to the Great Lakes diving community, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society respectfully honors Dr. Richard Boyd with our GLSPS 2019 Dive Community Contribution Award.