Jack Lavanchy, cofounder and President Emeritus of PADI Europe, passed away 27 January at age 87. One of the forerunners and pioneers of the European dive community, with Jürg Beeli, Lavanchy was a primary force behind PADI’s double-digit growth in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.
A native of Switzerland, Lavanchy’s interest in diving began when he saw people skin diving off of Cannes, France, in 1947. He completed his first scuba course in 1952 and was active with Glaukos, Switzerland’s oldest dive club, serving as vice-president, president, secretary and delegate to the Swiss Diving Federation. Lavanchy become an instructor in the early 1960s, and inspired by seeing Cousteau’s The Silent World, became Switzerland’s exclusive agent for the Spirotechnique scuba gear line in 1965, and Germany’s in 1968.
In 1978, Lavanchy visited PADI in the United States and returned to Switzerland and his business partner Jürg Beeli with PADI training materials. Recognizing the potential for PADI to improve diver training and promote industry growth in Europe, he and Beeli founded PADI European Services in 1983, followed by founding the PADI European College in 1984. In 1988, PADI European Services transitioned into PADI Europe, which was one of the forerunners of today’s PADI EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa).
Lavanchy served as PADI Europe’s CEO and president in the 1980s and 1990s. Under his leadership, PADI experienced double-digit growth and grew into the region’s leading and largest diver training organization. In 1996, Lavanchy launched the Project AWARE Foundation in Europe, establishing a new growth base and diver participation for the organization’s marine preservation initiatives. Over his career, Lavanchy received numerous honors and titles, including:
- Historical Diving Society Advisory Board
- International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame
- Tauchen Lifetime Achievement Award
- European Underwater Federation Honorary Vice President
The PADI family joins our industry colleagues around the world in mourning Jack’s passing and extend our condolences and sympathies to his family. His contributions will be missed, but Jack himself will be missed the most.