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Joseph Edward Vogel Dies at 75

Joe Vogel, a long-time resident of St. Thomas, died on May 6, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after a brief illness. He is survived by his children: Karen Riddle (Marty), Elizabeth (Betsy) Scarbriel (David) and Frank Vogel; grandsons: Nathan and Jonathan Cyntje, and Jacob Vogel; brother, Wayne Vogel; nephew, Wayne Allen Vogel; nieces: Denise and Maria Vogel; uncle, Jim Vogel; and several cousins.

Born in Anderson, Indiana, on Jan. 14, 1935, Joe was a graduate of Anderson High School where he excelled in track and field. He became interested in diving while still in grade school and had his first scuba diving lesson in a swimming pool in Florida from Ed Sisisky, who later became Walt Disney’s chief underwater cinematographer. After high school, Joe moved to Indianapolis where he met Dr. Emmett Lamb, who was a charter member of the Indianapolis Athletic Club and owner of a sporting goods store. With his sponsorship, Joe taught himself scuba diving and later taught customers of the sporting goods store. He read every book and article he could find on diving and saw every movie in which diving was featured. It was after seeing “Frogman” with Lloyd Bridges that Joe decided he must be a member of the Navy’s elite Underwater Demolition Teams, and he joined the U.S. Navy. Overcoming many obstacles and disappointments, he was finally accepted and underwent BUDS training at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Virginia.
Joe first came to St. Thomas as a member of the UDT (team 21, class 19) for their annual winter training and maneuvers, and he fell in love with the islands. He became acquainted with many St. Thomians and formed several lasting friendships. After his discharge from the Navy in 1961, he moved to St. Thomas, intent on becoming a diving instructor and a part of the community. He worked for a time with Paul West, another transplanted American, who had established himself as a diver and fisherman on the island of Tortola. Joe credited Paul with teaching him many things about free diving (without scuba apparatus), spear fishing and diving safety.
In 1964, Joe was employed by the late Claude Caron as manager of the sporting goods store at C & M Caron, and he also started instructing tourists in scuba diving. With Caron’s sponsorship, Joe arranged the first spear fishing tournament, which was a huge success. It was at Caron’s that Joe met his second wife, Sandra Grigg, the mother of his children, and together they established the Joe Vogel Diving Company. Joe became a familiar sight at Coki Beach with his white VW van sporting the mermaid and her diver-down flag.
He worked with and involved himself in anything having to do with diving and spear fishing in the islands. For many years he was a member of the Underwater Society of America and the St. Thomas Diving Club, and led the Virgin Islands team to several consecutive international championships at the society’s annual diving competitions. Joe was engaged to accompany the National Geographic team when they visited the islands on assignment for that magazine; he trained several members of the V.I. Police and Fire Departments in underwater search, rescue and recovery operations and personally conducted several search and recovery operations following accidents at sea.
In later years, Joe owned and operated three Diving Operations at Villa Olga, at Compass Point and at the Sebastian’s Building on Veterans Drive. He sold the company and worked for the Chris Sawyer Dive Shops for a time. In 2002 Joe moved back to the mainland and resided in Rio Verde, Arizona, until his illness in 2010.
He passed away at the home of his daughter, Elizabeth. His last thoughts were of St. Thomas, his island home. “I dreamed of home last night; I dreamed that I was running to catch the ferry to St. John. I dream of home every night. I long to see it again.” A military honors ceremony and interment are planned for 2 p.m. on Monday, May 17, at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, 5310 Milner’s Road, Suffolk, VA 23434. Come as you are; tropical colors are preferable, per Joe’s request for a celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society in his memory.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Joe taught me to SCUBA dive in 1968 in April if i had the chance I would hav visted him and alos come to his departing Iam sure he would renumber the 16 year old kid with long hair later in 1988 as if a prophecy I moved to st cCroix from Colorado to be in the Virgin Islands army national guard it is funny how one person stays in your heart and mind all your life as Joe. has last year I went you the Navy SEAL museum in Florida on Hutchinson island and saw his name on the list Joe Vogel UDT21 God rest his soul and I believe he caught the ferry to st John I only knew him two weeks but is for ever in my heart
    Bob

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Joe Vogel, a long-time resident of St. Thomas, died on May 6, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after a brief illness. He is survived by his children: Karen Riddle (Marty), Elizabeth (Betsy) Scarbriel (David) and Frank Vogel; grandsons: Nathan and Jonathan Cyntje, and Jacob Vogel; brother, Wayne Vogel; nephew, Wayne Allen Vogel; nieces: Denise and Maria Vogel; uncle, Jim Vogel; and several cousins.

Born in Anderson, Indiana, on Jan. 14, 1935, Joe was a graduate of Anderson High School where he excelled in track and field. He became interested in diving while still in grade school and had his first scuba diving lesson in a swimming pool in Florida from Ed Sisisky, who later became Walt Disney’s chief underwater cinematographer. After high school, Joe moved to Indianapolis where he met Dr. Emmett Lamb, who was a charter member of the Indianapolis Athletic Club and owner of a sporting goods store. With his sponsorship, Joe taught himself scuba diving and later taught customers of the sporting goods store. He read every book and article he could find on diving and saw every movie in which diving was featured. It was after seeing “Frogman” with Lloyd Bridges that Joe decided he must be a member of the Navy’s elite Underwater Demolition Teams, and he joined the U.S. Navy. Overcoming many obstacles and disappointments, he was finally accepted and underwent BUDS training at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Virginia.
Joe first came to St. Thomas as a member of the UDT (team 21, class 19) for their annual winter training and maneuvers, and he fell in love with the islands. He became acquainted with many St. Thomians and formed several lasting friendships. After his discharge from the Navy in 1961, he moved to St. Thomas, intent on becoming a diving instructor and a part of the community. He worked for a time with Paul West, another transplanted American, who had established himself as a diver and fisherman on the island of Tortola. Joe credited Paul with teaching him many things about free diving (without scuba apparatus), spear fishing and diving safety.
In 1964, Joe was employed by the late Claude Caron as manager of the sporting goods store at C & M Caron, and he also started instructing tourists in scuba diving. With Caron’s sponsorship, Joe arranged the first spear fishing tournament, which was a huge success. It was at Caron’s that Joe met his second wife, Sandra Grigg, the mother of his children, and together they established the Joe Vogel Diving Company. Joe became a familiar sight at Coki Beach with his white VW van sporting the mermaid and her diver-down flag.
He worked with and involved himself in anything having to do with diving and spear fishing in the islands. For many years he was a member of the Underwater Society of America and the St. Thomas Diving Club, and led the Virgin Islands team to several consecutive international championships at the society’s annual diving competitions. Joe was engaged to accompany the National Geographic team when they visited the islands on assignment for that magazine; he trained several members of the V.I. Police and Fire Departments in underwater search, rescue and recovery operations and personally conducted several search and recovery operations following accidents at sea.
In later years, Joe owned and operated three Diving Operations at Villa Olga, at Compass Point and at the Sebastian’s Building on Veterans Drive. He sold the company and worked for the Chris Sawyer Dive Shops for a time. In 2002 Joe moved back to the mainland and resided in Rio Verde, Arizona, until his illness in 2010.
He passed away at the home of his daughter, Elizabeth. His last thoughts were of St. Thomas, his island home. “I dreamed of home last night; I dreamed that I was running to catch the ferry to St. John. I dream of home every night. I long to see it again.” A military honors ceremony and interment are planned for 2 p.m. on Monday, May 17, at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, 5310 Milner’s Road, Suffolk, VA 23434. Come as you are; tropical colors are preferable, per Joe’s request for a celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society in his memory.