Skip to main content
 Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

Dedicated to Preserving our Shipwrecks and Maritime History
"From Prevention to Preservation"

HomeAward Recipients 2017

Tim Pranke - GLSPS Appreciation Award


Tim Pranke has been an active member of the GLSPS since 2004.  He was asked in 2008 by the GLSPS President and Chairman of the Dive Into the Past - Twin Cities Shipwreck Show to be the show's Co-Chairman.  He worked so well with everyone, he was asked to take the position of Show Chairman for 2009.  Tim pursued it like it was his own show, and the show was very successful.  Tim then became incredibly valuable to the GLSPS with his spring preparations, maintenance, and improvements to the R/V Preservation, our research and work vessel. Tim has used his expertise from the European auto body field to help us with the paint on the boat.  Tim has a great deal of mechanical abilities which have also helped us with many tasks that are needed to get the boat ready for each upcoming season.  One particular task he completed recently was the overhaul of the port-side transmission.  He did a great job researching this project, and completing the overhaul on time, and it has been working great! If you follow face book, you can occasionally see some interesting information from Tim's researching shipwrecks and all around history.  His love for shipwrecks, boat yards, trains and train-yard history has brought him to the level of being an expert on those subjects.  We think he’s a walking "Google".   Tim has also taken courses in Amateur Archaeology through the Wisconsin Historical Society and WUAA.  This would help the GLSPS document shipwrecks along the north shore of Lake Superior.   


His most recent and largest volunteer effort was participating in the Pretoria Boiler Relocation Project as Co-Chairman.  This project required a great deal of planning with archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Tim and the other very experienced and highly trained GLSPS members had to rely on the RV Preservation research vessel to be a reliable work platform.  They also needed intense training to learn how to use commercial dive equipment to complete the project successfully.  Lifting a 13,000 LB donkey boiler and moving it 300 feet was no easy task.  It was like lifting and moving a two-ton truck.  

Tim has also been the Project Chairman for the Thomas Wilson Invasive Species Monitoring Project for the past six years.  His implementation and perseverance of the project every year is no less than amazing.  The data he gathered has also been used by researchers from the U of M.  Participants on this project totally enjoy the volunteering, diving, and monitoring of invasive species to study their habits.


Tim helped out on many projects throughout the years such as the S.S. Meteor Preservation and Stabilization Project, Photo Mosaic Projects and many documentation projects.


Tim has been working on his opportunity and position as Captain / Boat Operator on the RV Preservation.  With his many mechanical skills he personally knows every inch and every piece of equipment on the vessel, can repair any of it in a moment’s notice, and he will be a very worthy candidate for the position.  The GLSPS Board of Directors and the President are reviewing his resume this spring and will probably approve adding him as a Captain / Boat Operator for this coming season.


We are so honored to have such a hardworking, talented and active member that engaged himself in volunteering for the GLSPS.  Therefore, we extend our appreciation by presenting him with the distinguished GLSPS Appreciation Award.  

Tom Benson - 2017 Dive Community Contribution Award


A nomination of Tom Benson for this year’s Dive Community Contribution Award is like a walk down a fifty-year memory lane.  Tom has been a diver for fifty-one years and been a PADI instructor for forty-six of those years.  He opened Scuba Center, a smaller version of today’s Scuba Center, in 1973 and has been at the same location for all those years making Scuba Center the oldest dive center in the Twin Cities and second oldest shop in the state.  Icons of our dive community open doors into the underwater world for all of us and Tom and his staff have certified over 10,000 divers and done the basic instruction for open water referrals for over 10,000 more.  Several of his protégés went on to open their own shops so one might say Tom is indirectly responsible for introducing many more divers to the sport.  

It is not surprising that in his lengthy career he has accomplished a number of firsts for the diving community.  In 1974 he started his scuba travel business by loading divers into a 15 passenger van and heading to Florida.  His first international travel was a trip to Jamaica in 1974 which cost $199.   He was one of the first shops to travel to Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.  In the late 70’s when Jimmy Carter temporarily opened Cuba to travel for sportsmen, Tom jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first to dive Cuba.  He was one of the early adopters of the Unisuit which was the dry suit to have in the seventies.  He flew in instructors from Sweden to bring the dry suit training to the Twin Cities. Tom has also been an underwater photographer from the time when underwater photography meant building your own underwater camera housing and lighting the scenes with flash bulbs and later flash cubes.  

Managing to keep a scuba business alive for forty-six years through economic ups and downs attests to Tom’s management abilities.  He has not been afraid to diversify to other water sports and has been successful at the wind surfing, kayak, and paddleboard businesses also.  He also continues to be a supplier of the latest in public safety equipment technology.  Tom maintains the key to his success is in hiring a qualified staff which is his source of pride.

True to his humble demeanor, when asked to describe his contributions to the dive community, Tom said that he didn’t think he deserved the award because the only thing he feels he has done was to be there for a long time.  Well, from the thousands of students he and his staff have introduced and trained to multiple levels of these great water and underwater sports, led all over the world on dive trips, and supplied the equipment needed to pursue their passion, “being there” has meant taking the time to make their lives more exciting and interesting.  For that, we thank you.  For being one of our reliable supporters, GLSPS thanks you, and for your many years of service to the local dive community GLSPS proudly awards Tom Benson our 2017 Dive Community Contribution Award.

Frederick Stonehouse - 2017 C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award

If you have any interest in shipwrecks and Great Lakes Maritime History you have probably read and/or own some of the thirty books Fred Stonehouse has authored on the subjects.  You also have no doubt heard Fred speak on one of these topics.  Fred’s love for everything maritime started at a young age as he grew up on the coast of New Jersey.  He moved to Marquette, Michigan for college, fell in love with Lake Superior and ultimately made Marquette his home.  After college Fred started a 27-year career as an officer in the Combat Corps of Engineer.  He served in Vietnam, Latvia, and Honduras, but his love for Lake Superior and upper Michigan brought him back to Marquette.  He now teaches two online courses in Maritime History at Northern Michigan University, which is also where he earned his Master of Arts degree in History.  

Of his books The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and Great Lakes Lighthouse Tales are regional best sellers. Wreck Ashore, the U.S. Life-Saving Service on the Great Lakes, won a national publishing award and is the predominant work on the subject. Another book, Haunted Lakes, Great Lakes Maritime Ghost Stories, Superstitions and Sea Serpents, has opened an entirely new genre in Great Lakes study. His book, Final Passage, is the first Great Lakes shipwreck book for children.  His articles have been published in Lake Superior Magazine and Wreck and Rescue Journal as well as other publications.  Fred is often used as the historian and maritime history authority for many Great Lakes media documentaries.

We know Fred as one of us – a diver, a great story teller, and an ever present supporter of our Great Lakes maritime history and shipwreck preservation efforts.  Fred is also very active in many other community committees, boards, and leadership roles related to the University, Marquette Harbor Development, Marquette Maritime Museum, and the National Board of Directors of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association.  Fred even served as Mayor Pro Tem of Marquette for a short time.

Fred has been honored with many awards and we would like to add to those our award and our gratitude for his contributions to the things that are important to us.  For not only preserving maritime history, but for sharing it with us in your own very entertaining style in your books, articles, and awesome presentations we thank you and the GLSPS respectfully awards Fredrick Stonehouse its 2017 C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award