Dave Doll was one of the local ‘characters’, known in the underwater circles as ‘Diver’ Dave, but there’s a lot more to Dave Doll than blowing bubbles underwater! He was the managing director of his own company, Sea and Oilfield Services, but that was only one of his endeavours. There are more, many more. In fact Dave, whose star sign is Gemini (the twins), says, “I’m a true Gemini – there’s two of me. One’s a diver and the other runs through jungles. I enjoy both aspects.”
Dave was an American, and always considered himself an American, even though he had not been back since 1970. He was the eldest son of a farmer and landscaper from Cleveland Ohio, and always acknowledged his father’s teachings, including the ‘golden rule’ of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Dave R. Doll May 25, 1947 – September 5, 2011
Dave enjoyed the farm life. “The physical side and the freedom,” and would work hard in school for the first semesters to gain enough points to pass the year, and then he would go and work on the family farm, not reappearing at school till the following year. Even as a young teenager, Dave Doll was showing an independent streak that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.
He finished school and went to college for a year to do business administration, but at the same time, the Gemini man undertook an apprenticeship as a stone mason. That physical need again.
However, at this time, Uncle Sam was looking for young men for the draft, but since Dave had spent his weekends flying training and had qualified for his private pilot’s license, he decided he would enlist, so that he could choose the US Air Force, rather than being drafted somewhere he did not want.
Unfortunately for private pilot Doll D., the USAF insisted that their pilots had a college degree first, so Dave was trained to be an equipment repairman. He lasted “Three years, seven months, fourteen days. I was impressed,” said Dave, “But not favourably!”
However, even though he did not realize it at the time, the experience would have a great influence on his life. He was sent to Thailand for two of those years. “When I got here (Thailand), I didn’t want to go back.” During his stay with the USAF here he toured all over Thailand on a Honda 350 motorcycle, and saw as much of the country as he could. “The people were good and you could easily live off your salary.”
After his return to the US he did not last too long in his home country, and three months later was in Vietnam as a heavy equipment mechanic, working for a company supplying expertise to the US Navy, Army and Air Force.
After his contract finished, he jumped over to Thailand, working here installing telephone cabling systems, but was soon asked to go to Irianjaya to build drilling sites in the jungles. This was starting from the ground up, where he would clear the land for the camp site, build the airstrip and hangers, then helipads and the drilling operation itself. The man running through the jungles was certainly in the thick of it.
He repeated the performance in many countries, including Sulawesi and Bangladesh, and Papua New Guinea. “They were in remote areas, but I love it,” said Dave. “I can put up with it more than civilization. You also are training and supervising locals. It can give you self pride and accomplishment.”
Like all off-shore workers, Dave would be working in the jungle for three months, then return to his home, which by now was Thailand, for the next few months. What did he do here? Put his feet up? Not likely! No, Dave had opened his first dive shop here in 1977 and he would return to teach people how to dive. Some of his pupils have been the first accredited instructors for Hong Kong and Korea. He also taught most of Thailand’s commercial divers, by this stage being fluent in Thai. In 1982 he opened Sea and Oilfield Services and became the first commercial diving company in Thailand.
The Gemini (underwater) man has been consistently building up this other side of his life and by that stage was well known for his underwater cabling capabilities, and for his neoprene wet-suits that he manufactured.
In 2004 Dave said, “I’ve climbed the mountains, swum the seas and jumped out of airplanes, but I’m still learning every day. The day I stop learning is the day I die,” he said with finality.
Until the very last day of life, Dave was still very active with Sea and Oilfield Services. “That’s what I’m doing now. It takes me all over Asia and this is still ongoing. In between times I’ll be building shelters for children.”
That was another of Dave’s noble projects. The local Masonic Lodge, of which Dave is a member, became involved with the rebuilding of Phuket after the tsunami ravaged the coastline. Dave, in conjunction with a couple of others, designed demountable shelters that were built in Maptaput, disassembled and then transported and reassembled in Phuket to be used as temporary schools for the children in the South.
For Dave Doll, this was just a simple back to jungle routine. “You cut the forests down. You level everything and build. But this time man didn’t clear the beaches, Mother Nature did.”
Mother Nature and Dave did make good partners, however. He enjoyed his country retreat, where he had his own little farm, with ducks and geese. “I’m perfectly happy blending in with the Thai community. I understand Asian thinking and their ways, but I still live by American standards.”
Dave Doll was both a homespun philosopher and philanthropist. A very surprising man, a Gemini man! (By Dr. Iain Corness)
Dave spent the last 5 years of his life on Koh Tao, where together with his long time companion Fishy, owned a hamburger stand along with some bungalows. Dave was still very active in the scuba diving business, renting and selling wetsuits and diving equipment. Dave was a certified NAUI, PADI, YMCA Instructor and taught enthusiasts scuba diving until the very last day.
Dave trusted the Almighty and His creations. He bravely walked through life with all its varied differences of good and evil. He trusted in the unlimited goodness and wisdom of Almighty God and never feared the arrival of the last hour of his earthly existence.
On Monday September 5, 2011, without warning he took ill and was rushed by speed boat to Koh Samui for medical attention.
But the last hour of Dave’s mortal existence was nigh. He was called to the Grand Lodge above on that very day.
Rest in everlasting peace dear friend and brother.
Note: The funeral services and cremation were held on Koh Tao on Tuesday September 13. Friends and brethren are planning to hold a memorial service in Pattaya in a few days. We will get the information out to as many of Dave’s friends as we possibly can.