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John Cronin

Born: 1928

Albany, NY

Died: July 15, 2003

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Notable Achievements:

An early (1964) dive retailer, his stores trained hundreds of divers before diving was a large industry.

Joined U.S. Divers in 1961 and rose to position of CEO. During his tenure he also co-founded the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI). 

Under his leadership, PADI has certified as many as a million divers in a single year, and is the largest organization in the diving industry.

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John Cronin


Born in Albany, New York in 1928. John J. Cronin has become one of the diving industry’s most prominent figures, with over 30 years of experience in bringing people into the activity of scuba diving as the founder and CEO of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Cronin also served as President of the Board of Directors for the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA).

Cronin’s history in diving dates back to 1954, when he began his diving career as a sport diver and dive retailer. By 1956 he had started his own dive-training program, training hundreds of divers. In the early 1960’s Cronin took a job with U.S.D. Corp., a holding company that owned several companies in scuba
diving, fire-fighting equipment, industrial safety, industrial eye wear and specialty gas businesses. His career with the company lead him to Chicago in 1961, where he became the mid-western sales manager for U.S. Divers. By 1969 he had packed his bags and moved west to Santa Ana, CA, to accept his appointment as Executive Vice President and CEO of U.S.D Corp. It was in 1966 that Cronin in conjunction with Ralph Erickson founded the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI as a scuba diving training company. Today, PADI is the world’s largest single entity in the diving industry with 1999 retail sales of PADI products in excess of US$250 million dollars. PADI has over 100,000 professional instructor and retail members worldwide, operates in 175 countries, and has affiliate subsidiaries in several countries. In 2000 PADI certified over 1,000,000 sport divers.