What a night it was at the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) banquet dinner at Beneath the Sea (BTS), as part of the largest Scuba trade show in the United States, on March 30, 2019 in the Meadowlands, New Jersey. Over 200 people were present at the gala ceremony where women divers inducted into the class of 2019 included the late Dr. Susan Williams. I was proud to sponsor her application in honor of her memory as a member of the Hall of Fame. Given her accomplishments in diving, as an aquanaut, as a director of the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, and as a marine conservation scientist working on coral reef and eel grass restoration, it was only fitting that Susan's name be included with the other distinguished women divers from around the world.
At the start of the evening, the color guard marched in and my sister and I took our places at the table sitting with Susan’s family, including her husband Bruce Nyden, sister Holly Williams, niece Kaitlin Williams Hansen, and cousin Aaron Cohen. The awards were presented to each inductee after her accomplishments were announced, Susan’s family was there to accept her award, and the celebratory banquet began. After a lovely meal followed by a double chocolate dessert it was off to the underwater film festival as only BTS can do, featuring the very best underwater photographers and videographers in the world. It was a special night as BTS recognized all the women in WDHOF this year for the coveted prize of Legend of the Sea for 2019!
The next morning WDHOF gathered for its annual Sunday Scholarship brunch to distribute a record breaking $75,000+ in scholarships to 53 recipients. Bruce Nyden, family, and friends of Susan Williams gave out three scholarships: two Graduate Scholarships in Marine Conservation: to Renee Setter for coral restoration, another to Sarah Driscoll for sea grass restoration; and a Dive Training Grant to Martha Magdelena Garcia Juarez of Baja California Sur - congratulations to these recipients.
I encourage you to contribute to the UC Davis Susan Williams endowment and Susan Williams scholarships at WDHOF so that additional scholarships may be awarded to deserving recipients in future years. While the ceremony was bittersweet for Susan’s family and friends, all were pleased to see Susan recognized and honored as part of the Hall of Fame with her “sea sisters”.