Bob Soto was a leader and teacher of scuba diving and his name is legendary in the industry. In order to pass his passion for the sport onto others, the Bob Soto Memorial Scuba Scholarship has been created and will be awarded to one lucky young Caymanian at the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame dinner at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on Sept. 14.
Many trailblazers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 2000, such as Jacques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle, Cathy Church, Ron Kipp, Guy Harvey, Lloyd Bridges and, of course, Bob Soto. This year, Stephen Frink, Dick Rutkowski, Dr. H.S. Batuna (honored posthumously), Wulf H. Koehler, and Boris Porotov will be recognized at the awards dinner, along with Early Pioneer Award honoree, Captain Philippe Tailliez (honored posthumously).
Although the Hall of Fame only exists in a virtual capacity at present, there are hopes to construct a physical building in the future that will house unique artifacts and focus on the history of scuba diving from its early days to present time. Those interested in the subject can visit the exhibit on the second floor of the Cayman Islands Museum in George Town, which will be on display until the end of October.
Bob Soto Scholarship
Soto established Bob Soto’s Diving along with Elita Bodden Soto in 1957 at the Pageant Beach Hotel, later moving it to the Lobster Pot location. Their hard work, promotion and marketing established the first Caribbean dive operation and one of the first in the world. They worked tirelessly with their three sons, Rene, Danny, and Randy until the sale in 1980 to Ron Kipp, who carried it on.
Bob Soto was keen to teach and help locals learn, work with him, and become leaders in the dive world. The scholarship will carry on his legacy of training others to dive and hopefully some will open their own dive shops in the future.
The winning candidate will have a keen interest in scuba diving and will be trained to instructor level. “My father would have wanted the criteria to be set high as he always strived to show and promote Cayman in the best possible light,” says Bob’s son, Rene Soto. “The individual receiving this opportunity should have some level of confidence, intelligence and integrity to represent Cayman to the public.”