Shipmate Column
May-June 2014

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
164 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  e:
Web site:

For any classmate you can go to the Classmates Page and enter his name to read his current biography if available.

        I am sorry to begin this month's news by telling you of the loss of four members of our '63 family.

        Our classmate Joseph Lederhaas passed away due to congestive heart failure on 3 April. His obituary in the Last Call section of our web site can be seen by clicking HERE. Joe's widow, Cathy, can be contacted at 3220 South Shore Drive, Apt. 21C, Punta Gorda, FL 33955-1922.

        Bruce Lenz died on 9 April, the result of cancer discovered only a few weeks earlier. His obituary in the Last Call section of our web site can be seen by clicking HERE. Bruce's widow, Sally, can be contacted at 18701 Woody Creek Drive, Edmond, OK 73012.

        We have just learned of the death of Holger Ericsson on 10 September 2013. His obituary in the Last Call section of our web site can be seen by clicking HERE. We do not have contact information for his family.
        Our classmate Jace Singler's wife, Nancy, passed away on 7 April. He can be contacted at 2520 Waterside Drive #116, Frederick, MD 21701-3023.

        Many of you will recall that Bill Haslet's daughter, Adrianne Haslet-Davis, was one of the victims of the terrorist attack at last year's Boston Marathon. A professional dancer, she lost her lower left leg as a result of the bombing near the finish line. Since then, she has shown remarkable courage, fortitude, and good spirits. She was profiled in a one-hour CNN broadcast documentary, "The Survivor Diaries," on 13 April. Click HERE for a link to a CNN web page which provides several short videos about Adrianne. I know you'll enjoy seeing her dance with Bill in one of the videos.

        In February, our Alumni Association posted this image on its Facebook page with this comment: "Throwback Thursday: This week's throwback is a bit of a mystery. Recently found in the basement of Johnson's on the Avenue, this poster size sign. Also found were ones from the Classes of 1950, 1952, 1961, and 1962. Anyone have any information?"
        I am not aware that anyone has provided definitive information about the origin and purpose of the posters, which are covered with our signatures. Considering that they were found in Johnson's basement, I suspect that they were on display in the shop in those years, to be signed by the Firsties who frequented the business as graduation approached. If you can add anything about the '63 poster, please tell me.
        Spencer Johnson is safeguarding the '63 poster. At our request, the Alumni Association generously provided higher resolution images showing the signatures more clearly. To see them, visit the Pride and Tradition section of our web site by clicking HERE and scrolling down to the "Memories" listing.

        Jim Fontana sent this brief note about a Florida weekend in early April.
     Dick Omohundro, Craig Thrasher, and I linked up for a weekend of sculling at Dick's new home near Sarasota, FL, in early April. We spent two days dodging power boats and churning up the waters of the inland waterway. Craig's wife Peg, a championship rower, rounded out the crew of four ... and took this picture.
Fontana, Omohundro, and Thrasher

        Thanks to Chuck Stone for filing this account of a very memorable weekend with classmates in Santa Barbara, CA.
     As you may recall, at the 50th Reunion Grant Telfer won the "Montecito Trip" raffle prize hosted by Sheila and Mike Bonsignore. He was one of three from the lucky Twelfth Company to win a prize! June and I were very fortunate to be invited by Grant to join him and his lady friend, Vickie, on the visit.
Grant and Vickie

     What a memorable time it was. We traveled up from San Diego/Oceanside by Pacific Surf Liner (AMTRAK) to Santa Barbara on a perfect, March spring day where we were met by Mike and Sheila. Our gracious hosts had everything planned for our visit.
     After unpacking and settling into our quarters, we were treated to a tour of "Las Cascadas," their spectacular home in Montecito overlooking the Pacific and Santa Barbara Channel Islands. Since it was near 1700 somewhere, it was time for cocktails and dinner. They served smoked salmon for hors d'oeuvre's and the best halibut I have ever tasted for dinner, both of which they had caught from their boat in the Pacific somewhere north of Seattle. It was a special and delicious evening with stimulating conversation and, of course, never ending sea stories.
Mike and Sheila Bonsignore

     After a casual morning, we were treated to a scenic tour out from Santa Barbara which included the coast, the local mountains, the Santa Ynez Valley, a visit to the Danish village of Solvang (where we dared not try to keep the ladies out of the many shops), and Lake Cachuma (the public water reservoir for the entire Santa Barbara area, which sadly is below 37 percent capacity, reflecting the severe drought affecting the entire western U.S.). After a very full and enjoyable day, we were hosted for dinner at Lucky's, one of the local Montecito restaurants.
In Solvang, CA. Grant, Vickie, Sheila, June, Mike, and Chuck

     The next morning, again after a leisurely start, we toured the City of Santa Barbara, including the Mission Santa Barbara (one of the 21 California coastal Missions founded by the Franciscans in the late 1700's and early 1800's). We had just enough time for lunch at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club before boarding our train back to San Diego County.
Sheila, Vickie, and June

Mike, Grant, and Chuck

     Words don't adequately describe the quality of times like this shared with classmates, wives, and friends. It was very special and we were honored to have participated. Those of you who have had the opportunity to visit with Mike and Sheila know what we mean.

        Yet another sword has been donated by a member of our class to a member of the Class of 2013. The latest transfer occurred at Quantico on 5 March, when Butch Whitworth's Mameluke blade was presented to 2LT Toni Paruso following her graduation from The Basic School that day. Butch could not be there, so his companymate Bruce Webb stood in for him. Bruce filed this report about the donation:
     At our 50th, Butch asked me if I could find a Marine recipient for his Mameluke Sword. I had met then-Midshipman Paruso when I sat with 25th Company Mids at the Class of 2013 Service Assignment Dinner in King Hall, a "Link in the Chain" event for '63. At the time of our reunion, she was already in Basic School, so I asked her if she could identify an Academy classmate who would need a sword. After checking, she told me that virtually all those she spoke with already had their swords. She said she would be glad to accept it and would see if she could sell hers to someone in '14. So it was agreed, and Butch mailed me his sword from Texas. The presentation went well, Butch was happy with the legacy donation, and 2LT Paruso was absolutely delighted to be the recipient. Happy spectators included her mother and her boyfriend, 2LT Matt Kelly '13. He's going infantry and she's going to Marine Pilot training.
Bruce Webb presents Butch Whitworth's sword to Toni Paruso '13

        It should be noted that Bruce is counted among those who donated swords to members of '13, having given his to Ensign Charlotte Hauser last year.
        The Pride and Tradition section of our web site contains not only news about our class but also a growing number of recollections submitted by our classmates. I encourage you to browse through the material there, particularly the Memories and Midshipman Memories items. The most recent came from Dirck Praeger, whose account of events in the Mess Hall will stir your memories. Visit this section at [by clicking HERE ] When you finish Dirck's remembrance, be sure to read Dave Moore's account of a USO show in Diego Garcia in the mid-1980's.

        The wear and tear of our many years is beginning to catch up with us. Fortunately, modern medicine and technology are easing our journey. I was reminded of that by Jack Hood, who sent some useful advice that was earned through his personal experiences.
     I am sitting in my hospital room in early March, thinking I come as close as any classmate to being bionic. I had a right hip replacement two days ago which follows the left hip 14months ago. My left knee was replaced in 2008 following the right knee in 2000. Add to that two artificial eye lenses from cataract surgery plus several teeth in my partial. If anyone has more artificial parts they should let you know. Rest assured that when I fly it sounds like the 4th of July when I go through security.
     As the self appointed class expert on joint replacement, I thought I would offer advice to the classmates who will be undergoing the surgery in the future, and there will be several of you. First and foremost, do not put it off. It is only going to get worse and the worse it gets the harder the recovery. Second, take your pain meds like they tell you to. You will not become addicted and will start cutting back in a couple of weeks. Pain is the great inhibitor to healing. Third, exercise, exercise, and more exercise. Knees require professional rehab; hips do not. Either way, work your butt off. The more you exercise, and that mostly means walking, the faster you will ditch that walker for a cane and then get rid of the cane. It gets old and hurts a little but the progress can be seen. Fourth, and the best part, stay rested. An afternoon nap and quitting early is very easy to adjust to. I am lucky since I have very long, indoor carpeted hallways, an elevator and a handicapped accessible house but anyone can take a few steps to make their place more rehab friendly. We have a trip with a group planned five weeks from Thursday for a Mississippi River boat cruise and I intend to make it, without walking aids. Any classmate can feel free to ask for tips at .

        The latest brief installment in our "whenever two or three shall meet..." series came from Paul Tobin:
     While investigating an out of the way attraction on Kauai called Spouting Horn, we ran into Evelyn and Frank Davey. 63 is everywhere!
The Spouting Horn

        Here is a story about multigenerational ties to the Naval Academy and the lasting impact of the Class of 1963 Foundation.
        Cancer took our classmate Carl S. Kolon in 1980. It is his class ring that represents us in the all-class ring display in the Naval Academy Museum. I am sure he would be very proud to know that his grandson, Carl C. Kolon, has accepted an appointment to USNA as a member of the Class of 2018. Matt Kolon, soon to be not only a USNA son but also a USNA father, placed a remarkable statement about the Academy and Carl's decision process on his web site. I encourage you to read it by clicking HERE . Included on the web site is this statement about support he received from the Class of 1963 Foundation in the 1980's:
     My father, Carl S. Kolon, died of leukemia when I was 14, when he was only 39. When I was 17, I got a call from one of his classmates who was part of the board of the USNA '63 Foundation, the existence of which I hadn't even been aware. He told me that the class of '63 had put together a fund meant to help the families of those members who died, whether in wartime or peacetime. They knew I was of college age and asked me if I needed help paying for school. Get that: Twenty years after they graduated, they thought about my dad, searched me out, and offered me help. And I needed it!
     This began a multi-year relationship between USNA '63 and me, during which they helped me significantly with college tuition and a few other things. What class, what foresight, and what compassion. So when I ask myself if I really want my son to be the kind of person the USNA helps produce, this anecdote and fact remind me of the character, generosity, thoughtfulness, and quality of the people it puts out, and makes me know the answer is yes.
        As I was preparing this report, I received some additional background information from Jim Ring:
     Our classmate Carl was President of the '63 Foundation in the early years of its existence. We traveled to New York for a meeting and met with Carl's family including his son, Matt, daughter, and his second wife, Jane, who died two years after him. I knew we had helped Matt and his sister, but often wondered what had happened to them
     I spoke to Matt recently and he told me that Carl has accepted the nomination and will attend the Academy. He indicated Al Griggs met with Carl and the meeting was instrumental in his decision to go to the Academy. Al had taken Matt to USNA when he was younger to see his father's class ring on display in the library.

        Pete Carrothers shared this photo of Navy footballers in Idaho.
     Here is a picture taken last summer when a group of us were guests of Grace and Pete Optekar at their wonderful home in Coeur d'Alene, ID, for fly fishing and camaraderie. Pictured are Pete, Vern Von Sydow, Steve Hoy, Pete Carrothers, and Ed Gill. Fred Stortz was there for most of the festivities but wasn't there for the picture taken after a hard day fly fishing on the river.
Fly fishers in Idaho

        Phillip Marsden sent this illustrated news from Southern California:
     There have been a couple of recent events in San Diego that brought together some of our classmates.
     A number of classmates joined the San Diego USNA Alumni Chapter at a recent Padres game in Petco Park. It was a lovely afternoon to watch the game and visit with old friends. The photo below shows Max Ricketts, Lew and Lynn Blackwell, me, Jerry and Rowena Harken, and Jim Fontana.
'63 contingent at a Padres game in San Diego

     San Diego and Coronado classmates joined more than 4,000 spectators to commission the USS CORONADO (LCS-4) on a bright sunny morning in April. Joe Morra's wife, Maria Teresa, took these photos of Joe, me, and Clyde Van Arsdall. This picture of the ship shows that it looks like a Star Wars fighter -- more like flying a plane than piloting a ship!
Clyde Van Arsdall and Joe Morra

Marsden and Morra


        Having recently downsized from their lovely home in Coronado, Philip said that he and Martha are enjoying their new condo nearby.
        And so ends another good month for news, thanks to everyone who took a few minutes to send a note or email to me. Others readers of this column are encouraged to contribute something for next month's installment of our News Exchange. Do it now. It's a good way to put off mowing the grass, washing the car, or folding your socks.

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