Cover photo for James Gale Livers's Obituary
James Gale Livers Profile Photo
1940 James 2023

James Gale Livers

April 7, 1940 — April 8, 2023

James Gale Livers, “Gale,” was born to Pauline Mae Nicholson and James Everett Livers during the early days of World War II in the small town of Magnet, Indiana. He spent his early years forging a close relationship with his mother and his cousins while his father was in the Army training in engineering and repairing airplane electronics. Jim returned to his family when Gale was 6 after three years away.
Gale grew up primarily in the small town of Liberty, Indiana, excelling in sports, especially track and cross-country. He recalled they were the only school without a bus, so they ran to the meet, ran the meet, and ran home. They were better than the other teams because they had to be. This sentiment and drive to excel carried him far. In high school, his family moved from Liberty to New Castle, Indiana, and Gale graduated from New Castle Chrysler High School in 1958. After graduation, the family moved to Mooresville, Indiana, where Jim started his career at Lake Central Airlines. Though Gale was born into small-town life, he never appeared to accept its limitations; always finding a creative way to get where he wanted to go, starting by hitching rides to Chicago and beyond on his dad’s airline. Similarly, while his dad had always lived in Indiana, he was able to “travel” via his love of ham radio communications. His call sign, W9HSP, was recognized all over the world.

Ever the sportsman, Gale met his future partner, Sylvia, waterskiing and their relationship lasted for more than 60 years. Gale and Sylvia married in 1961, while both were attending college. Sylvia attended Indiana University, while Gale alternated semesters with a workstudy program at the University of Cincinnati School of Architecture. Studying architecture during the peak of the midwestern mid-century modernist movement, he developed a lifelong appreciation for brutalist, minimalist and modernist design. After Gale’s graduation in 1967, they moved to Indianapolis and he joined Fleck, Burkhart, Shropshire, Boots, Reid & Associates as an architect. There, he supported the firm on many projects, including Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.

While raising their family of two daughters, Erin and Stephanie, Gale and Sylvia became certified scuba divers in 1970, and their passion for scuba led Gale to become manager of Divers’ Supply, a retail scuba outlet in Indianapolis. Their entry into the world of scuba led Gale and Sylvia to become scuba instructors and to form a scuba travel club, The Waterbugs, that allowed them to leave the quarries and lakes of Indiana and Ohio behind for the best diving locations in the world. Gale then joined Ikelite Underwater Systems and helped design, test, and advertise their underwater lighting and camera housing products.
In 1973, Sylvia joined him at Ikelite, working in the office where she forged life-long relationships with the dealers who sold their products around the world. One of Gale’s most prominent contributions to Ikelite began in the mid-70s, when he produced its annual catalog. His photographs of Ikelite products-in-action featured Sylvia modeling their use just as the diving industry was gaining in popularity. For most of their lives Gale and Sylvia traveled the world scuba diving, guiding groups of enthusiasts, taking underwater photographs, and ultimately leading Gale to teach underwater photography. He is the author of two books teaching underwater photography using 110 and disc instamatic cameras.

In the mid-80s, as Gale faced paste-up and layout by hand each year for Ikelite’s catalog, he developed an interest in the budding world of computers and purchased the first Apple Macintosh sold in the state of Indiana the day it was released. Not only did he begin to produce Ikelite’s catalog digitally as the technology evolved, he and Sylvia created LaserHouse, a desktop publishing and graphic design firm that Sylvia managed. His deep curiosity of computers and cutting-edge technology would remain until the end of his life.

When Gale bought a BMW K100 RS motorcycle and began taking weekend trips to get out of town, it didn’t take long for Sylvia to join, giving him a chance to slow down, a bit, as they explored nearly every US state and Canadian province, above water. Often, they traveled with other members of the Indy BMW club.

His best friend for much of his life, Robert Eagerton, shares many of Gale’s qualities and so many of his interests they were often mistaken for brothers. Whether they were exploring Alaska with their cameras, photographing the Sandhill cranes, or flying drones for a bird’s eye view, they enjoyed each other’s viewpoints and familiar sense of humor.

Gale had an incredible eye for appreciating and photographing the natural world, while also finding beauty and interest in human-made design. His two passions for underwater photography and architecture/design were evident in all that he did and created. He was a wonderful, patient teacher, which allowed him to share his talents with many others.

Sylvia passed away after a long illness in February, 2023, and Gale passed away suddenly on April 8, 2023.

Having parents and grandparents like Gale and Sylvia, who inspired and supported us all to live a life of our dreams, their loss is deeply felt every day by their daughters, Erin Livers and Stephanie McShane, their partners, Mark Swart and Patrick McShane, and grandsons Jack McShane and Frank McShane, along with their partners, Josh Watkins and Haley Wen.

If you have a story about Gale and Sylvia, please share it here now. We’d all love to hear how they touched your lives.

There will be no service for Gale, per his wishes; however, family will soon celebrate both Gale & Sylvia’s lives near the ocean they loved. Their ashes will be used to build an artificial reef structure that will be placed offshore Pensacola, Florida, where family can visit often.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Gale Livers, please visit our flower store.


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