Samuel Otis Raymond

Born: New Britain, CT on 08 October 1928

Passed away: Shelburne, VT on 30 November 2021

Aged: 93 years

Service Details

The family will plan a celebration of life in North Falmouth, Massachusetts in the summer of 2022. If you are interested in attending, please email [email protected] to be placed on our mailing list.

The Story

Samuel Otis Raymond died in Shelburne, Vermont on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 at the age of 93.

Sam was the founder of Benthos Undersea Systems of North Falmouth, MA, as well as being an oceanographic engineer, inventor, underwater photographer, world traveler and life-long adventurer.

Sam was born in New Britain, Connecticut in 1928, son of Horace and Grace Raymond. Growing up in Berlin, CT, he was inspired by his father’s engineering work and inventions including the world’s first automatic “Magic Eye” door. Sam 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, WA and Hughes Aircraft Company in California before returning to Cambridge, MA, 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, Sam was heading the ocean products division at Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier (EG&G). In 1962 he founded his own company in Watertown, MA, to design underwater cameras and scientific equipment primarily for researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). He soon moved his business to North Falmouth, MA 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 ‘90s Sam 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. Sam and Benthos also developed equipment used by James Cameron for underwater sequences in the films Titanic and The Abyss.

Sam 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, Sam 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.

Sam’s 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, Sam took many ocean voyages connected with expeditions for WHOI and the National Geographic Society.

Sam’s 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, Sam 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, Sam 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.

Sam was also an explorer on a local scale. He could often be found riding his mountain bike on the trails of the Falmouth Reservoir with an early GPS device attached to his helmet, creating trail maps.

Sam loved music all his life and began playing jazz on clarinet, piano and other instruments when he was a teenager. For many years Sam jammed with an impromptu jazz band (made up largely of personnel from WHOI) on weekends at the Silver Lounge in North Falmouth. Even during his last years in retirement homes, Sam was frequently heard humming his favorite jazz tunes.

Sam is survived by his children Eric, Vaun, Nixie and Monica; his brother George; brother-in-law Jack Heinzmann; grandsons Morgan and Jesse; and his first wife Heidi, the mother of his children. He was predeceased by his wife Holly Nichols Raymond, his brother Richard, and his sister Jean Heinzmann.

Sam was inquisitive, creative, and unafraid to risk failure, confident that he could solve any problem and leave the world a better place than he found it.

Per Sam’s wishes, his brain was donated to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. Family and friends plan to honor Sam with a Celebration of Life in N. Falmouth, MA during the summer of 2022.

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I vividly remember the time when Sam’s bicycle helmet had a GPS antenna permanently mounted on top. I repurposed an old controller wired to his helmet to record positions while Sam biked the trails of Cape Cod. Back then GPS had “selective availability” meaning the accuracy was randomly varied. As Sam always said, keep trying, and we did to improve the accuracy of his trail maps to overcome those early problems. But the best part of the story was Sam’s invitation to his home for a night of lobster and disco music complete with a mirror ball as a thank you for all our work. As I always say, my years working at TapTone in the ‘90s has always been my favorite time as an engineer. We will miss you Sam.

Bob Melvin