George Purifoy of Morehead City spent the last hours of his life on a dive at the site of one of the area's famous shipwrecks - a poignant end for a man known as a pioneer in North Carolina wreck diving.
"He certainly was a leader in the dive world," said Carteret County Tourism Director Carol Lohr, a longtime friend. "I truly believe he was instrumental in making the wreck diving industry in North Carolina what it is today.
He had a real passion about it, not just the diving, but also the history of the wrecks."
Lohr came to know Purifoy more than 20 years ago as the North Carolina Seafood Festival held on the Morehead City waterfront was being organized.
Lohr said Purifoy, owner of Olympus Dive Center located on the waterfront, was always willing to take writers offshore and do what he could to promote wreck diving, but he was also a big supporter of his community.