Louis M. Tew
March 9, 1925 – May 11, 2020
Mystic - LCDR (Retired) Louis M. Tew, 95, passed away quietly in his sleep May 11, 2020, in Mystic. "Lou" was born March 9, 1925, to Lewis Franklin and Electa Lee Tew, in Duke Township, Harnett County North Carolina. He was raised first by his grandparents, then by Aunt Ida and Uncle Willie Edwards, working on the farm, growing tobacco, cotton, potatoes and soybeans until World War II. When war broke, he enlisted in the Armed Guard.
During the war Lou served on Liberty ships, bringing supplies to Swansea and the Isle of Wight prior to D-Day. He served on the Oliver Evans and the Benjamin Holt, and was at the Normandy invasion while serving on the Holt. He also served for a short time in the Pacific front as well on the Edward W. Bok. Lou was a member of the "Barefoot Boys," which was described in an article featured in the New London Day, November 2009 by Ms. Jennifer Grogan. It can be found online at http://www.theday.com/article/20091108/NWS09/311089932/1018. It documents how Lou and others came from the Carolinas under similar circumstances to go on to be outstanding examples of their generation.
After the war Lou remained in the U.S. Navy, working out of Brooklyn. While working in the shipyard he made extra money helping boxer Jack Dempsey clean Dempsey's bar each morning. He met his wife, Ann Marie Kautz of Astoria N.Y., in 1943. In March 1946 they eloped and were married in Newton Grove, N.C. They initially settled in Waldwick, N.J. and had four children, Patty, Paul, Terry and Tom.
Lou's Navy career was memorable. He received the Navy Hall of Fame Award in 1955 and was the first enlisted man to receive the coveted John Paul Jones Award for leadership in 1957. He served many years on submarine rescue vessels (ASR's) as a hard hat diver and ultimately as a commander. He set a hardhat diving record in the north Atlantic, helped recover the submarine USS Harder, and salvaged the wreckage of an Eastern Airlines crash off of Fire Island. He led the USS Petrel crew to recover a B52 bomber in Puerto Rico and recovered the sunken submarine USS Scorpion in the Azores. Possibly the most dramatic was his leading of the top-secret recovery of an unexploded hydrogen bomb, known as the Palomares incident, in 1966 while on the USS Petrel. His last years in the Navy were dedicated to the design and construction of the ASR Ortolan, the first catamaran style rescue vessel.
Lou and family ultimately settled in Gales Ferry. There he enjoyed the quiet of his home with Ann, hanging out on the patio, and nurturing his peach trees. On retirement from the Navy, Lou couldn't keep still and soon became one of only a few Merchant Marine captains to obtain an exclusive "unlimited" license- the ability to captain any ship of any tonnage anywhere in the world.
One of Lou's great joys in his later years was working for John Wronowski and Interstate Navigation as a ferry boat captain. He found daily joy in piloting Block Island ferries- MV Quonset, MV Manitou, MV Block Island, MV Anna C, and MV Carol Jean- as well as the Cape Henlopen that ran to Orient Point. To him, working on the ferries was the ideal life, and he made many great friends, they were his extended family.
One thing stands out about Lou that those who knew him appreciated- he was honest, open minded and accepting of everyone. He believed in hard work, and in enjoying life with others. Lou had many great moments with family and friends- golfing, telling stories, smoking a cigar, playing cards, sharing a drink. He didn't care what a person looked like or where they were from, he treated everyone with respect. As a captain, as a father, as a friend, he was fair and true in his judgements of others, unhesitatingly supportive, and loyal. These traits are what set him apart and endeared him to others. This is what made him a great man.
In the early 80s Lou worked for Tidewater Marine and then Mobil Oil, designing and piloting their first oil research vessel, the GV Mobil Search. Lou and many of the friends he made over the years enjoyed traveling the world on this ship. This was a common theme for Lou- looking out for others, working together and sharing life.
Lou went on in his later years to support the Veterans of Foreign War, Masons, Fleet Reserve, and Armed Guard. He was especially proud of efforts to build the Armed Guard Memorial located in New London. As a Mason, Lou was a lodge master and then District Deputy for the Connecticut District 8B, becoming a 32nd Degree Mason of the Scottish Rite. Lou always spoke proudly of the efforts of these organizations to make the world a better place.
Lou was preceded in death by his wife Ann in 1993. In 1999 Lou remarried, finding companionship with Helen Mejza, whom he is survived by. Additionally, he is survived by a family that loved him deeply: four children, Patricia Mahon (John), Paul Tew (Mary), Theresa Tew, and Thomas Tew (Saeko); seven grandchildren, Brian Ahern (Pam), Jonathan Ahern, Margaret Matthews (Stevie), Kathryn Roberts (Dane), Madelaine Tew, Allison Hotchkiss (Tommy), and Rebecca Albers (Mark); and great-grandchildren, Hunter Ahern, Caitlin Ahern, Samuel Douglas (Nichelle), Benjamin Douglas, Marlee Matthews, Kaitlyn Albers, and Dylan Albers.
Memorial services and a celebration of life will be held later in the year.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Louis M. Tew
May 16, 2020
Lou if you can hear us in heaven, you will be missed by me and all of my brothers (Michael, Stephen, Conrad, Patrick and Daniel) for we were close family for the past 20 years. My mom especially misses and loves you so much. I know that she sang you a song and held your hand in the last moments and is still holding close to your spirit. Many memories were created between us --Sunday morning rides to the casino singing 'Blowin' In the Wind' together, your favorite Keno machine lighting up on big wins, endless tales of the sea, and, most especially, stories of all your children and grand children over the years, You possessed a deep appreciation for the road you travelled in life, friendships you cherished and contributions that you made to others lives. You will be loved and missed. God bless you in Heaven Lou, God bless you in heaven.
May 14, 2020
My sincere condolences to all of the Tew family. Your father was one of the greatest and will be missed dearly.