William John Scott III
January 12, 1917 – March 22, 2013
William J. Scott III, Commander USN (Ret)
Bill was born during a blizzard in Hartford, Connecticut, where he grew up with sister Phyllis and brothers Jim and Spen. He graduated with honors from Bulkeley High School. Bill obtained a Congressional District appointment to the United States Naval Academy but was delayed for one year while obtaining an opthamologist’s certification that his eyesight did not disqualify him from attending. During that time he attended Trinity College. To the great pride of his parents and grandparents, he was appointed to the Academy in 1936 and graduated in 1940.
On graduation, the new ensign was assigned to report to USS WASP (CV-7) recently commissioned and slated for a “shakedown” cruise to the Caribbean and South America. He had just commenced a June post-graduate vacation with his family when orders were changed to report directly to WASP. After arrival on board, a requirement for young officers of the deck was to observe from the quarterdeck Japanese cargo ships loading scrap iron directly forward of WASP at dock in south Boston. WASP deployed to the North Atlantic for convoy operations. This was at the time German submarines were targeting convoys bringing relief to Britain.
In 1942, Bill obtained his first shore leave. He was detached from WASP in Norfolk prior to the ship’s departure to bolster a critical carrier shortage in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Several weeks later, the WASP was sunk by Japanese torpedoes which might well have been made using the scrap iron loaded in full sight of the young officers at dock in Boston. The torpedoes hit the area adjacent to his stateroom.
Bill was ordered to commissioning duty aboard USS INDIANA (BB-58) steaming direct from Panama to Tonga to see a wounded SOUTH DAKOTA before steaming to hold the line at Guadalcanal. In 1943, he headed to Philadelphia to pre-commission USS MONTEREY (CVL-26) where a “great gang” was aboard, including a subsequent president of the United States, one Jerry Ford whom Scott broke in as OOD.
In 1944, Bill received unsolicited and unwelcome orders for a course at Post Graduate School, Annapolis. Yet the war-wary bachelor viewed cruising Annapolis as a bachelor officer a great break after each of his ships experienced disasters after Scott and his good-luck charm departed (WASP sunk, INDIANA in bad collision; MONTEREY in terrible fire and almost sank in typhoon). After PG school in 1945 came USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) and the celebration of war end in Boston.
Next it was USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62) on the west coast in Bremerton before bringing her east for midshipmen cruising. It was at this time, between midshipmen cruising to Europe and while acting as “voice of the force” out of COMBATDIV 1/COMCRUDIV 2, Norfolk, Virginia, that Thelma Freeman of His Majesty’s British Consulate came on the scene. “It took awhile to chase down this charmer,” and in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 16, 1949, Bill and Thelma were married before “an incorrigible bunch of Canadian reprobates”, shipmates on the HMCS STADACONA, one of whom served as his best man. Bill joined the staff aboard STADACONA to expose the Royal Canadian Navy to U.S. tactics and communications and in exchange “learned beer drinking and handling G&T.” Their little Scottish Terrier, Towser, was named after one of STADACONA’s “Officers of the Long C Course.” Both Bill and Thelma looked on that year in Halifax as one of the most pleasant in their long and happy life together.
Too soon it was back to Norfolk and the Com Station. They enjoyed living just blocks from the ocean at Virginia Beach where they welcomed the birth of Mary. Then came the Amphibs/COMPHIBGRU 2 and jaunts out of Norfolk while finding a larger home to accommodate son William J. IV (“what else?”). Upon arrival on a first tour in the Pentagon from 1955-1958, daughter Cecilia came aboard.
His last sea duty assignment in USS ALAMO (LSD-33) was a mixed blessing. Bill spent ten months of each of his two years in the shadow of Mount Fuji while his young family waited for him in a little paradise called Coronado, California. It was at this time he decided on final tour at the Pentagon and to execute that great naval maneuver “getting the he!! out.”
After Bill retired from the Navy in 1962, he pursued a successful career as communications engineer for ITT, CSC and Raytheon, enjoyed watching his family grow up in McLean, Virginia, and vacationing at the cottage he was so proud to purchase in 1967 in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Throughout his life, Bill valued his family and his friends. Though never returning to Conneticut as a resident, his bonds and feelings for his family were strong and deep, as they were for his sister’s family in Richmond. Among his friends, those he made with vacationing and playing golf in Bethany Beach or playing bridge in McLean were among his closest. Perhaps none were more valued than his USNA ’40 classmates, who he looked forward to meeting at informal gatherings, monthly meetings, class reunions, and too-few of the summer gatherings in Castine, Maine.
He loved most going anywhere and doing just about anything with “Panny” or “P” (wife Thelma). Her loss in 1992 affected him deeply. He found great solace in the lonely years after her passing from a little terrier named Scooter and the dear neighbors who never failed to greet them on their walks in McLean and Bethany.
He was pre-deceased by his brothers Spen and Jim and his sister Phyllis. He is survived by three children who grieve his loss deeply, Mary Monica Scott of McLean, VA, Cecilia Anne Scott of Mechanicsburg, PA, and William John Scott of Jacksonville Beach, FL; two granddaughters, Jennifer Morgan Mishkin and Michaela Lenore Mishkin, and grandson Harrison Scott Mishkin, of Mechanicsburg, PA; as well as very dear nieces and nephews in Connecticut, Florida, Michigan and Virginia.
There will be a month-long delay before the family can be informed of the date for interment at Arlington National Cemetery due to the increasingly high death rates for World War II and Korean War veterans. The family hopes for a funeral mass at the Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer, Arlington, Virginia, immediately before burial at Arlington Cemetery. There is a stained-glass window in the chapel donated by Bill’s USNA Class of 1940. It is a small intimate chapel well suited for a veteran who lived 96 years and has very few surviving classmates and friends. The chapel, however, is undergoing renovations, just as it was when his dear wife Thelma passed away 3 April 1992, also on the Friday preceding Palm Sunday. When this information becomes available as to the dates of the memorial and funeral services, a notice on this website and in The Washington Post will be published.
William John Scott III
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April 9, 2013
He was a great uncle and always made me welcome in his home throughout the years. He will be missed by all that had the pleasure to know him.
Love to my cousins, Mary Stewart
April 9, 2013
I am so sad to hear that my favorite uncle has left us. We will see each again one day. Bill,Mary, and Cecelia I know you will miss your dad but he has gone to a better place, where there is no more pain just happiness.
Love you all, Mary Stewart Beaubien
April 4, 2013
What a lively and entertaining life story! He was a wonderful neighbor, always willing to stop for a chat! My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time; may you find peace and comfort in your memories. May he rest in peace. +
April 1, 2013
What a wonderful life story.