Pioneer deep-sea diver with Bronx ties, dies at 81

Andre Galerne

A pioneering diver, whose City Island company helped set the standard for the commercial deep-sea diving industry, has passed away.

Andre Galerne was 81 when he died on Tuesday, May 6 of natural causes.

French born, Galerne owned The ICU Group, an international firm comprising several diving companies and schools committed to providing professional diving to industrial companies. 

Headquartered on City Island from 1962 until his retirement in 1996, Galerne ran the business from a large property on Fordham Street, which is currently being developed for residential use.

“He invented the first two-man submarine here on City Island,” Jacqueline Klye Kall, a City Island realtor, said. “He was quite a remarkable man. We are expecting people to fly in from Paris to attend his funeral.”

Many remember Galerne, who immigrated from Canada in 1962 and was the married father of four grown children, as president and later chairman of the City Island Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot got accomplished on City Island because of him,” noted current CICC president Peter LaScala, of Galerne’s reign in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  “He really reached out to a lot of people.”

LaScala said Galerne disarmed many politicians with his French charm, as he set forth his agenda to enhance the quality of life on the island. 

“I respected him,” he added.  “He taught me a lot.”

 Born in Paris in 1926, the French underground recruited Galerne to fight against the German forces during World War II.

 He took his first deep-sea dive using a Le Prieur apparatus and worked closely with Jaques Costeau, among others, in the early days of the pioneering French company, Aqua-Lung.

Galerne is further with starting several Hyperbaric treatment facilities. His successes also include four U.S. patents.

A funeral mass for Galerne will take place at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 16, with a burial following at Pelham Cemetery on Minnieford Avenue.

More from Around NYC