As we mourn and reflect upon the passing of Paul-Henri Nargeolet, we also celebrate and remember a unique, remarkable, adventurous man whose life touched literally thousands around the world; one who helped revise or write important new chapters in Titanic’s ongoing story, and who taught us enduring lessons about knowledge, sharing, courage, teamwork, confidence, persistence, friendship and personal integrity.
There’s little need to recount those lessons in detail. His legacy speaks eloquently of a life well-lived, and filled with love for his family and his innumerable friends, and the respect and admiration of his professional colleagues.
P. H. was like a diamond – brilliant and enduring, and with so many facets: a loving husband, father and grandfather; a proud French navy commander; teacher; pathfinder; teammate and team leader; steadfast friend, adviser, counselor … the list is endless.
I was honored to participate in the 1993, 1996 and 1998 Titanic expeditions led by P. H. and his dear friend, George Tulloch. Their confidence and respect impelled all expedition members to do our best to meet their high expectations, often expressed with their hands on our shoulders and a smile on their faces.
P. H. often served as the expeditions’ rudder, keeping us on course with his wise counsel and peerless knowledge of equipment, people, Titanic’s wreck and the eternal sea itself. Those expeditions and his own 37 dives to Titanic produced more new knowledge about history’s most famous ship than any other.
He was an honored member of our Titanic International Society, and at our conventions he held our members and guests spellbound as he presented fascinating details of new Titanic discoveries he had made. He reveled in answering questions, especially from young people.
Today, the thousands of Titanic artifacts remind us – and will remind future generations – not only of the ship, her passengers and crew, but of Paul-Henri Nargeolet, whose vision and foresight rescued these objects from oblivion and decay, and shared them with millions worldwide. It has been said that, “As long as we remember a person, they’re not really gone. Their thoughts, their feelings and their memories become a part of us.”
I shall deeply miss his telephone calls, which always began with his pleasant, French-accented voice saying, “ ’Allo, Sharlee, P. H. here.” Hour-long conversations simply flew by as he matter-of-factly recounted his recent activities and discoveries.
To Anne, Chloe, Sidonie, Julian and John, and the grandchildren, we mourn with you and express our gratitude to you for sharing P. H. with all of us. May you find peace and comfort from so many joyous memories in the days ahead, and in the assurance that P. H. and his countless contributions to oceanography, undersea technology and Titanic’s history will endure forever.
Rest well, P. H. Thank you for touching our lives, our hearts and our minds. We shall always remember you with love, admiration, respect and gratitude.
Charles A. Haas
Titanic International Society