sam raymond

Samuel Otis Raymond, founder of Benthos Undersea Systems in North Falmouth and an oceanographic engineer, died in Shelburne, Vermont, on November 30. He was 93.

Mr. Raymond was born in New Britain, Connecticut, the son of Horace and Grace Raymond. He was inspired by his father’s engineering work and inventions including the world’s first automatic “Magic Eye” door. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then worked at the Caltex Oil Company in Calcutta, India. He also worked for the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in Tacoma, Washington, and Hughes Aircraft Company in California before returning to Cambridge to work with his former MIT professor and mentor, Dr. Harold Edgerton, a pioneer of high-speed photography and the electronic flash.

By the late 1950s, Mr. Raymond was heading the ocean products division at Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier (EG&G). In 1962 he founded his own company in Watertown to design underwater cameras and scientific equipment primarily for researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He soon moved his business to North Falmouth and became a Cape Codder for most of his life. He named his new company Benthos from a Greek word meaning life at the bottom of the sea. Benthos became a world leader in designing and manufacturing equipment for ocean science, deep-sea photography and ocean industries.

In the 1980s and 1990s Mr. Raymond and Benthos became involved in the exploration of the wreck of RMS Titanic, during expeditions with the National Geographic Society, IMAX Corporation and filmmaker James Cameron. Benthos cameras were used to capture the first photographs of Titanic on the sea floor, including a cover photo in National Geographic Magazine. Mr. Raymond and Benthos also developed equipment used by James Cameron for underwater sequences in the films “Titanic” and “The Abyss.”

He also created a new division of Benthos called TapTone, improving upon an invention of his father’s for acoustically testing the integrity of food containers. This led to a line of equipment for safety testing on production lines for the food and beverage industry. Benthos and TapTone are still active today in North Falmouth as divisions of Teledyne Technologies.

Outside of work, Mr. Raymond enjoyed scuba diving, skiing, spelunking, hiking, trail biking, traveling and music. Throughout his life he loved tinkering, figuring out how things work, and imagining ways to make them work better.

His wanderlust began with a hitchhiking trip across the United States during a summer break from college, during which he worked odd jobs including washing dishes in a Grand Canyon bunkhouse. After a stint in the Merchant Marine, he took many ocean voyages connected with expeditions for WHOI and the National Geographic Society.

His lifelong love of travel led him to many remote places and adventures, ranging from riding his motorbike across India in the 1950s to scuba diving under the ice at the North Pole as part of a National Geographic Society expedition photographing ice formations. In the early 1980s, inspired by Heinrich Harrer’s book “Seven Years in Tibet,” he found a way to travel to the city of Lhasa with his daughter Nixie, despite the fact that Tibet was closed to foreign travelers. While in Lhasa, he and Nixie were thrilled to witness the yet-unspoiled, ancient culture of Tibet. He continued to travel in his retirement years, globe trotting with little more than a small backpack and his trusty ukulele, traveling by bus and staying in youth hostels.

He also enjoyed exploring locally. He rode his mountain bike on the trails around Long Pond with an early GPS device attached to his helmet, creating trail maps.

He loved music all his life and began playing jazz on clarinet, piano and other instruments when he was a teenager. For many years he jammed with an impromptu jazz band made up largely of personnel from WHOI on weekends at the Silver Lounge in North Falmouth.

He leaves his four children; his brother, George Raymond; two grandsons; and his first wife, the mother of his children.

He was predeceased by his wife, Holly Nichols Raymond, his brother Richard Raymond, and his sister Jean Heinzmann.

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