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DOWNEY – Dr. Floyd “Dal” Stauffer, who while in college competed in club and AAU regional competitions, diving on occasion with a then young Sammy Lee, the diving legend, and in swimming later competed against Buster Crabbe, who gained fame playing the roles of Tarzan as well as Flash Gordon on the silver screen, has died.
The husband of philanthropist and community leader, Dr. Mary Stauffer, Dal spent his last two years at a local assisted living facility.
Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 19, 1916 to Maurice and Dorothy Stauffer, he died on May 3, sixteen days shy of his 97th birthday.
Dal Stauffer’s swimming career started in Lake Michigan and his diving career at church summer camp at the age of ten. YMCA and high school (where he was valedictorian) diving followed, climaxing in his becoming Chicago’s junior and senior diving champion.
After the 1934 World’s Fair, Dal was invited to become part of the diving competitions in which he competed with the country’s best divers. He continued competing throughout college in club and AAU regional competitions, winning often, including winning at one point in water polo. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa while getting his BS in physiology from the University of Chicago in 1937.
From Ohio State University, in 1942, Dal obtained his MS in physiology. The following year, 1943, crackled with momentous activity: he got his MD degree, as well as becoming diving national AAU champion; then he not only obtained his private pilot license, he got a marriage license as well, marrying fellow doctor Mary Ruth Shuh the day after he graduated from medical school.
Commissioned the same year as a Lieutenant in the Medical Corps for the U.S. Navy, Dal was interned at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. He served as a ‘Beach Party Doctor’ (triage) in the Pacific Theater on the U.S.S. Audubon. In 1947, he was Navy flight surgeon at the School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola, Florida. Here he directed the human centrifuge program and instructed Navy pilots in acceleration forces and radial G-forces. He also conducted research on the G-suit, as well as experiments on human tolerance and “supine G-forces.”
In 1947, he was the All-Navy diving champion. He tried for the 1948 Olympics team, but, finishing seventh, he just missed making the team.
After Dal received his PhD from the School of Medicine’s Department of Physiology at USC in 1948, the Stauffer family moved to Downey in 1954 where both he and Mary continued to practice medicine. Dal in the meantime also served as the Warren High School team doctor for 12 years and sponsored some of the athletic awards at the school.
It was in 1962 that he started swimming and diving with the Senior Olympics. In 1974, Dal went to Texas for the first Masters diving meet. Throughout his Masters career, he competed in 20 FINA Masters World Championships and 49 USA Masters National Diving championships throughout the eight age groups beginning with 50-55. AHe was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2007, he was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame at the University of Chicago for swimming, diving and water polo. At 89, Dal decided to “dive for history,” being the first to set a Masters diving record for 90-year olds.
In 1978, Dal had discovered scuba diving and traveled to the best diving spots to pursue his new-found hobby. The highlight of this activity was a trip to New Guinea with one of his sons and a group headed by Jean Michele Cousteau, son of the famous undersea explorer, Jacques Cousteau.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Mary Stauffer, sons Jim (Sue)AND John (Kim) and daughters Dorothy Knight (John), Judi Saunders (Bob), and Janet Suzuki (Masa); grandchildren Dawn Marten (T.J.), Diane Saunders, Katherine Riech (Tim), Mary Owens (Aaron), Alison Riley (Dan), Jessica Stauffer and Jordan Stauffer and a grandson, Phoenix Riech.
Funeral services will be private.
Published: May 9, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 04