Dive industry stalwart Ron Kipp dies

| 24/07/2019
Cayman News Service
Ron Kipp

(CNS Local Life): Ron Kipp, who came to the Cayman Islands in 1980 to take over the pioneering Bob Soto’s Diving, becoming a part of the local dive industry’s growth, passed away Monday, 22 July, aged 79, after a long illness. His commitment to diving was recognised with his 2012 induction into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF) for his years of service in helping to make Cayman what many consider the world’s top diving destination.

Kipp left a job with IBM in the US in 1980 to become owner of Bob Soto’s Diving where he, as the ISDHF said, “began a programme of modernising and promoting not only his business, but also the Cayman Islands”. He chronicled his life in the diving industry in his 2013 book, From “Big Blue” to the Deep Blue.

Rod McDowall, operations manager of Red Sail Sports who knew Kipp since he first hired McDowall out of Australia in 1982 to work at Bob Soto’s Diving, told CNS, “I’m very sad to see him go. He was a dynamic driving force within the scuba diving industry here and internationally.”

Noting that Kipp gave him his first job in Cayman, he said, “I could blame him for everything and thank him for everything. We kept up a good relationship and friendship personally and in business over these 37 years.”

He also recalled that Kipp was a “fun guy”, adding, “He was a very talented marketing person. He had loads of energy and was very passionate about Cayman and the scuba diving industry.”

Suzy Soto, a tourism icon in her own right, has also known Kipp since 1980, when he bought her husband’s dive operation. She also paid tribute to Kipp’s marketing skills, saying, “Ron was a marketing and promotional genius who continued the progress Bob Soto had started in making Cayman the dive capital of the world.”

On a personal note, she added, “Ron was a tough guy but he had a great big heart.”

Kipp is survived by his wife, Kathie, and stepdaughter, Kristin Emond, in Cayman; and sons Brad, Stephen and Jeff, as well as grandchildren, in the US.

A celebration of Kipp’s life is being planned for 3 October, on what would have been his 80th birthday.

The article has been updated with information on Ron Kipp’s family.

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Category: Diving, Local News

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t really say I knew Ron but we met on several occasions when he was running the Seaview and it was always a fun experience. RIP, Ron.

  2. Sergio David Coni says:

    I arrived in the Cayman Islands to work in the Dive Industry over 30 years ago. I was impressed with the energy, dedication, creativity and organizational skills of several members of the Dive Industry community at that time. Ron was one of those guys who with his effort and dedication helped raise the bar not only of our local industry but also other Caribbean regions and destinations around the world. These Islands were a beacon to emulate by many within the Diving. Ron played a great part on it. Ron, I thank you for your work; farewell in the new oceans you went to dive to!

    • Anonymous says:

      There was a level of diver safety and respect for the marine environment in the dive industry that Ron helped establish back then. You are quite right to say Cayman was a beacon to emulate back in 80s and 90s, but i have to agree with our usage of past tense; it’s not terrible now, but it’s not what it was.
      Ron’s contributions in helping to market the Cayman Islands as a dive destination cannot be understated. RIP Ron and condolences to Kathie and his children.

      • Anonymous says:

        2:07 Was Ron the person who introduced the Gold Card at Bob Soto’s? I remember obtaining that and the freedom it gave experienced divers to use their skills to get the most out of the dives. Got some great memories of my very cute Japanese buddy and I being able to dive with Eagle Rays and turtles off the North Wall away from the disturbance of the guided groups.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe Ron has other children. You might want to check on that.

    CNS: You are absolutely right. This oversight has been corrected in the article.