William Frederick Ferris

June 30, 1953December 1, 2018

It is with love in our hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of Commander William (Bill) Frederick Ferris, beloved husband, father, son, brother, grandfather, and friend. Bill was born in Oak Park, IL to Frederick Donald Ferris and Lura Mae Ferris (née Holland) on June 30th 1953. He was the oldest of 6 boys. He graduated from Lyons Township High School in La Grange Park, IL in 1971 as a letter athlete in both football and track and field. Commander Ferris was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with the class of 1975 where he was part of the collegiate track and field team. Upon graduation, he reported directly to Pensacola to begin flight school on the P3-Orion. At the conclusion of flight school he and his wife lived in Mountain View, CA while Bill was stationed at Moffitt Naval Air Station. He was then assigned a post in Hawaii with VP-22. He would spend 2 years in Ewa Beach, HI before receiving orders to Meridian, MS. This time, he would be moving with his first daughter in tow. While in Mississippi he and his family welcomed a second daughter shortly before he was reassigned to join the USS Kitty Hawk in San Diego, CA. Most of Bill’s time aboard the USS Kitty Hawk was spent at sea in the Pacific Ocean protecting our shores and country during the Cold War. Bill was accepted to the Naval Post Graduate school in 1985 and transferred to Monterey, CA to study Systems Engineering. He graduated with his Masters Degree shortly before being sent on deployment to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Upon completion of his six month deployment, he and his family made their way to Hawaii and were stationed at Barbers Point with VP-6. In 1990 he received a Professorship position in the Weapons and Systems Engineering department at the United States Naval Academy. While teaching at the Naval Academy he was part of the sailing program and loved sharing his joy of sailing with the midshipmen that he taught. He would transfer just one more time while in the Navy before retiring after 26 years of service in 1997. Following his retirement, he began his second career flying cargo planes, most recently retiring from FedEx after 20 years of service with the title of Captain Ferris. CMDR Bill Ferris lived a life of service – service for his country, his family, and all those that were blessed to be touched by his light.

He is survived by his wife, Janice Simmons of Annapolis, MD along with his daughters, Jenni Braught and her husband Chuck Braught of Lancaster, PA and daughter Kate Bill and her husband Thaddeus Bill of Chicago, IL. His beloved stepchildren Alexander Vatis, Ashleigh Abutboul, Jack Gardiner, Alison Shires, and Mary Beth Miller. His grandchildren, Ferris Bill, Charles Braught IV, Grace Braught, Ma-Lin-Da Vatis, Alia Abutboul, Eve Abutboul, Mia Abutboul, Easton Gardiner, Arthur John (AJ) Shires, Chase Miller, and Maxwell Miller, who lovingly refer to him as “Pop pop” and “Mister Bill.” His father, Frederick Donald Ferris, and his 5 brothers: Jim, Joe, John, Greg, and Dave. He is predeceased by his first wife, Patti Jo Ferris (née Thomas), his second wife, Kimberly Vatis, and his mother, Lura Mae Ferris (née Holland).

Memorial services for Commander Ferris will be held at the United States Naval Academy, St. Andrews Chapel on Thursday December 6, 2018 at 10:00 am, followed by a Committal at the Columbarium. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to American Cancer Society or the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.


  • Memorial Service Thursday, December 6, 2018

William Frederick Ferris

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James Lundell

December 5, 2018

I will always remember the day Bills brother Joe and I took Bill for a flight in a Cessna 172 to Michigan City, Indiana. We were both new at this flying thing. Bill, a Navy Airman, was in the back seat. Even though he was a Navy Airman, he made me feel like that was the best flight he had ever been on.. That is the kind of man he was. Thank You Bill... You will be missed..Your Friend Jim..

Marianne Abdishi

December 5, 2018

Even though we did not see each other much, I was lucky to have spent a little time with Bill over the years. He made it a point to reach out to me whenever he was in town. Several years ago my family was visiting Washington DC for the day and he went out of his way to come and meet us to reconnect, meet my husband and kids and have hot dogs in the park. It is a fond memory for me. Our heartfelt condolences to all.
Marianne (Morison) Abdishi

Beth Owens

December 4, 2018

Bill was my husband's, Kim Norman Gregory, cousin and one of his dearest friends. Bill and Kim were like brothers and the Ferris family always welcomed us in their homes with open arms, a gesture for which we were always grateful. After Kim & I moved to Maryland, we shared many wonderful evenings with Bill & Kimberly exploring restaurants and wineries while indulging our shared interest in good food and wine. When my Kim died in 2011, Bill and Kimberly were supportive friends during my own time of loss, also a gesture for which I have always been grateful. Know that my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to the entire Ferris Family for their loss. The world was a better place with Bill's generous, patient, and loving soul in it and he will surely be missed by all who knew him.
Blessings on the journey ~ Beth G. Owens

Bernd Foerster

December 4, 2018

Had quite a few classes together. We were friends although never saw him after graduation. It is a sad day to see a friend go. I wish I could have gotten together with him more, but that's the life of a Naval Officer. Spread to the four corners of the earth. Time and Tide wait for no man. We will meet again someday. Berny

Gary Ingold

December 4, 2018

I am so saddened by Bill's passing...we both entered USNA hailing from the State of Illinois...the first time we met we realized we played high school football against each other...West Suburban Conference. I saw Bill more often when we moved to Annapolis. Bill endured many crosses in his lifetime...he was a fighter and a survivor. He had a quiet faith that saw him through those difficult times...those silent but courageous times were always a silent inspiration to me...I only wish I had a moment to tell him personally one more time.

Rest In Peace...Bill/Classmate '75/Friend

Go Navy Beat Army

Andy kozak

December 4, 2018

Bill we met only a couple of times. You were an amazing class act. I was in 30th company

My wife and I would like to express our sorrow at this time

Go Navy!!

Andy Kozak

John Cox

December 4, 2018

Our thoughts and prayers are with Thaddeus and the family during this difficult time.

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