Meet Captain Spencer Slate ’72

mms95img99160209Whether he’s in North Carolina or Florida, East Carolina University alumnus Spencer Slate ’72 has always been at home on – or under – the water.

From his first dive in a rock quarry as a high schooler, he went to rowing on the crew team at ECU, and then to becoming the captain of his own fleet of dive boats.

Slate is the founder and owner of Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures, the largest dive center in the Florida Keys. He operates four boats taking scuba divers and snorkelers on various dives through one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, and the United States’ only living coral barrier reef.

Originally from Winston-Salem, Slate came to ECU because he’d heard good things about the school from his sister’s boyfriend, who attended here. He earned a bachelor of science in business education, graduating in 1972. After attending at job fair at ECU, he got a job teaching sales and marketing at a high school in Jacksonville, FL. He also taught scuba diving at the local YMCA. He opened his dive center in 1978.

“I really had a good experience at ECU,” Slate said. “ECU made me more proficient in business. I learned how to market my business, which I still do every day. All of that started at ECU.”

Slate rowed on the crew team for three years and was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

“That was a great bunch of guys,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories of my time at ECU.”

With more than 12,000 dives under his belt and a goal of 20,000, Slate is a well-respected diving expert and leader in the Keys community.

His standing dive outings include a “wreck trek” to local shipwrecks and a “creature feature” where participants can see Keys wildlife up close. The “creature feature” dive, which runs every Friday and Sunday, has been covered by multiple TV shows, including 60 Minutes, Discovery, Animal Planet, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

As a notary public, Slate also conducts underwater wedding ceremonies where divers use pre-written signs to state their vows. Known as “the Justice of the Pisces,” some of his undersea ceremonies have been featured in People magazine and the Guinness Book of World Records.

Slate loves to represent ECU in his community and business, and often wears an ECU shirt or hat on his boats. He says, “I’m really proud that I went to ECU.”

By Jackie Drake

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