Bellingham dive shop will close after death of owner

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 7, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Dive shop Adventures Down Under will close next month after the death of its owner, Ron Akeson. His family is planning to open a new dive shop this summer in the same location, 2821 Meridian St.

The new shop will have more dive travel and underwater photographic art.

"We're hoping to continue the legacy he started," said shop employee Barb Roy.

A celebration of life for Akeson will be held Sunday, June 22.

Akeson, 56, died from complications during a deep-water dive near Mukilteo last month. It's unclear if there was a problem caused by equipment failure or a medical issue, Roy said.

Akeson loved deep-water diving and exploring shipwrecks, Roy said. His favorite expression was "growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional."

He was an instructor, a mentor and a friend, said Capt. Nathan Schwark, the diving safety officer at Western Washington University's Shannon Point Marine Center.

"I had trouble keeping up with him," Schwark said. "He was a key mentor and I deeply feel his loss."

Akeson was local customer Tasha Geiger's dive instructor for many years. What impressed Geiger was Akeson's ability to teach beginning classes with the same enthusiasm he taught advanced classes.

"He never spoke down to any of his students," Geiger said. "He loved getting people interested in diving."

Akeson was always teaching her something new about diving, even after she completed her dive master certification, she said.

"I keep expecting Ron to show up at the shop and tell us about what went wrong on his dive, and he would say some technical stuff (about) how he fixed it during the dive," Geiger said.

Details about the celebration for Akeson will be available on Adventure Down Under's Facebook page.

Reach Elana Pidgeon at 360-715-2249 or elana.pidgeon@bellinghamherald.com.

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