Frank J. Scalli
Saturday, June 25, 2004
Frank J. Scalli, 73, of 36 Thurston Point Road, died peaceably at his
home from Alzheimer's disease Thursday, with his wife Mary at his side.
Born in Charlestown April 13, 1931, he was the son of the late Pasquale
and Annie (Ganley) Scalli. He lost his father when he was 13 and became a
source of comfort for his mother all of her life. He met his wife, Mary,
while they were teenagers in Charlestown. They were married there in 1953.
He joined the U.S. Army and served proudly during the Korean War from 1950
to 1953 as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division, 188th AIR, out of
Fort Campbell, Ky.
He was one of the original Army "Atomic Soldiers," having participated in
the first live nuclear detonation tests involving U.S. troops during
November 1951 in the Nevada desert. He returned to Boston to pursue the
activity that he first experienced in the service and that would become one
of his life's passions: scuba diving.
He was one of the founding fathers of sport diving in the United States.
He helped to develop the science of sport diving instruction by writing the
first nationally adopted scuba instruction manual in 1954, which is still in
use today. He was one of the founders of the Boston Sea Rovers, one of the
oldest dive clubs in the country. He was an originator of their annual
education and training clinic, where he was honored this past March at their
50th annual show.
He was instrumental in legitimizing diving by introducing scuba
instruction to colleges and universities through his teaching at
institutions such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
the U.S. military academies at West Point and Annapolis. He served
simultaneously for many years on the boards of directors of all three
national diving education and certification organizations, PADI, NAUI and
He assisted in establishing the Massachusetts District Commission and
Massachusetts State Police underwater search and rescue teams in the early
1960s, following 10 years of volunteer search and rescue work for the state.
As a diver, he had few equals, whether participating in the first dive
expedition to the sunken Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria or pioneering a
new drift dive adventure in the Caribbean.
For more than 30 years, he led the business development for the diving
industry's leading company, U.S. Divers Company, chaired by Jacques
Cousteau. He and Cousteau shared a lifetime of diving and business
adventures. Cousteau would visit Mr. Scalli at his home in Gloucester
frequently, beginning with his family's permanent move there in 1967.
He has received every major award in the diving industry in recognition
of his hard work and dedication, including his induction last year into the
Diving Hall of Fame.
Mr. Scalli considered his most important accomplishments the ones in
which he helped those most in need. For more than 40 years, he supported the
children of the Cotting School in Boston. He founded the annual fund-raiser
Seamark, raising money from the local diving community for the school. He
also raised funds to build their vision clinic, which now bears his name.
Last March, his beloved Boston Sea Rovers continued his tradition of
diving education and support of deserving youth by initiating the Frank
Scalli Annual Summer Internship, in which a deserving high school senior
spends a summer learning about a variety of career opportunities in the
underwater world. It was his last great honor to be able to participate in
the award presentation.
He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Mary L. (Jenks) Scalli;
five children, Kathleen Scalli Johnson and her husband Charles of
Gloucester, Patrick Scalli and his fiancÚ Angela Alsup of Gloucester, Mary
Scalli Powers and her husband James of Maine, Eileen Scalli Badgewick and
her husband John of Maine, Frank Scalli Jr. and his wife Lynette of
Rockport; 12 grandchildren, Elizabeth MacKenzie VanKnowe and her husband
Brian, Collin MacKenzie, Molly J. Scalli, Nicholas, Anthony and Frank Crosen,
Colleen, Michael and Brian Harnish, Makayla, Jacquelyn and Kylie Scalli;
three great-grandchildren, Tyler, Carson and Landon VanKnowe; sisters
Josephine Clark of Florida, Frances Pietrella of Malden, Anne McDaniel and
her husband Arthur of California, Patricia LaBella of Malden; brother Donald
Scalli and his wife Collette of Malden; aunt Josephine George and uncle Jake
of Falmouth; aunt
Elizabeth D'Avolio and uncle Nicholas of East Boston; aunt Frances Scalli
of Somerville; aunt Jane Scalli of Falmouth; brother-in-law Joseph Jenks and
his wife Roberta of Milford; brother-in-law James Jenks and his wife Marlene
of California; sister-in-law Catherine DeAngelis and her husband Joseph of
Burlington; sister-in-law Theresa G. Leone of Medford; brother-in-law John
Jenks and his wife Theresa of Reading; and many loving nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by a grandson, Joseph Crosen.
Visiting hours will be held Monday, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the James C.
Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St., Gloucester. Relatives and friends
are invited to attend. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, at 10 a.m., at
St. Ann Church, 60 Prospect St., Gloucester. Burial will follow at Seaside
Donations in his honor may be made to the Frank Scalli Annual Summer
Internship, c/o Boston Sea Rovers, P.O. Box 935, Bedford, MA 01730-0935.