PECHTER--Morton H., November 13, 1922 -June 24, 2008, a business tycoon and later Hall of Fame Underwater Photographer, adventure sports photojournalist, writer and book author passed away peacefully from respiratory failure. Morton Pechter was the last remaining member of the original Pechter Baking Company and Harrison Baking Company, wellknown for its Jewish Rye Bread and other baked goods products, serving the New York, New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area. The specialty of dark and heavy breads, pumpernickel and rye, and assorted bagels and pastries proved popular and the concern prospered. The bakery grew to over 1000 employees with hundreds of delivery trucks. Serving at various times as President, Treasurer and Secretary he was a brilliant, energetic, practical, motivating, detail oriented force ensuring the company's success. Starting with horsedrawn delivery trucks, they were one of the first commercial companies to change to the Edison Electric Truck. Thomas Alva Edison was present to give a personal send-off when the first of these trucks was put into service. Pechter's was also wellknown for its "kosher for Passover" line of products. Store shelves were filled with their "kosher" items at holiday time. Jews and non-Jews alike devoured their delicious Passover macaroons and chocolate nut brownies. Pechter was a graduate of Dartmouth College, Class of 1943, the Tuck School, 1944 and Harvard Business School. He served in the Army in WWII. In later years, when the Pechter Baking Company had been sold, Pechter turned to SCUBA diving and underwater photography, first as a hobby and later as a profession. His professional life as a photographer grew and he wrote and photographed for hundreds of magazines, joining the masthead designation on many. He became the "Official Photographer" for the SCUBA Industry for over 25 years; for over 16 years he was the "Official Photographer" for the Chris Evert Tennis Charities; for eight years for the Delray International Tennis Championships; for four years for the Air & Sea Show in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and was the photographer for "Raffi on Broadway" and several other Broadway productions. As a professional photographer, writer, SCUBA diver and lecturer, he photographed and wrote about the world's top tennis professionals, searched for sunken archeological and lost treasures, photographed the magnificent reefs, jumped from helicopters, flew in hot air balloons and gliders and investigated the deep ocean. He authored and photographed an award winning book, "What's In The Deep?" that was a "Reading Rainbow" designated book. It was the first children's book ever done with actual underwater photos rather than illustrations. Pechter's book is a science text in libraries and classrooms throughout the U.S. He also produced and photographed an instructional, photographic flyer for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. His photos appeared on many calendars and covers of magazines. He was recognized as an outstanding underwater photojournalist by New York Times art critic David Shirey, who stated that Pechter's photos "reflect a technique, a specialized expertise and an aesthetic authority that gives us a new understanding of underwater photography." His many awards include: the 2003 NOGI for Distinguished Service from AUAS; the 2008 Diver of the Year from Beneath the Sea; Director's Award from the Balloon Federation of America; the Photographer of the Year from USCA. He was given recognition and honored by the United Nations Environment Programme, recognized by the U.S. Navy as an Honorary Deep Sea Diver, and awarded the "Rambo" underwater diver from the Police Department. He was honored with election to the SSI Platinum Pro 5000 group in recognition of making over 5000 SCUBA dives and his work within the industry. The North American Travel Writers Association (NATJA) awarded him top honors for several of his published pieces. He was elected a Fellow National member in the prestigious Explorers Club for his contribution to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration. Pechter has been the featured speaker on several television productions, among them a special television production about sea and space including Michael Collins, the command module pilot for the first landing on the moon. Some of the more memorable TV shows he helped to film were Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Kim Alexis for Good Morning America, Al Roker for the Today Show and Hugh Downs for 20/20. He was a founder of the Long Island Science Museum and its Executive Vice President. His photos and articles have appeared in Life, Time, Newsweek and Forbes Magazine. Pechter was a longtime member of Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn, Long Island and a member of the Board of Trustees, sang in the choir and served as Cantor on many occasions. He was a charter member of DEMA, a member of the American Society of Media Photographers, the National Association of Press Photographers and the North American Travel Writers Association. He was a Life member of the National Marine Educators Association, a Founding member of the Historical Diving Society, a Fellow in the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences and a Fellow in the Explorers Club. Pechter had the unique ability to instill in others the same excitement and enthusiasm for life's wonders that he had. His obvious delight for the world beneath the sea was nurtured by his deep commitment to conservation and preservation of the underwater wilderness. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Alese, and his children; Dr. Stuart and Madeline Pechter, Dr. Richard and Robin Pechter, Dr. Jay and Roxanne Pechter, Juris Dr. Todd and Christine Pechter and his grandchildren, Nelson, Wyatt, Joseph, William, Patricia and Diana.
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Published by New York Times from Jun. 27 to Jul. 6, 2008.