Shipmate Column
November/December 2003

Pres:  Stephen M. Duncan
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
25 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  e:
Web site:

Remember that you can click on any underlined Classmate's name to view his Current Biography.

        Once again, I must open our column with news of the loss of another of our classmates. Terry Abell passed away on 3 September, ending his valiant struggle with multiple sclerosis first diagnosed more than 30 years ago. Although his physical condition deteriorated over the years, Terry's mind remained as sharp as ever and his spirit and good humor never wavered. He did not give up the ship. He was, and will remain, an inspiration to everyone who knew him. Indicating the high esteem in which he is held, more than one hundred classmates and wives attended his memorial service. Terry's family can be contacted at 14919 Jaslow Street, Centreville, VA 20120. They request that donations in Terry's memory be made to the USNA Class of 1963 Foundation, c/o Lowe Enterprises, 12020 Sunrise Valley Dr. Suite 110, Reston, VA 20191.

For many years our Washington area classmates visited Terry at his home and, later, in the care facility where he lived for the past several years. He was buoyed by their friendship and support, and they were inspired by being with him. What a grand expression of the Class of 1963 tradition of "Taking Care of Our Own!"

With the death of Terry Abell, the Class of 1963 has lost 100 of those who graduated with us forty years ago. I encourage you to visit the Last Call section of our web site to remember and pay your respects to these good men.

        The class also extends its sympathy to Dennis Jones and his family for the death of his son-in-law LT Kylan Jones-Huffman, USN, husband of Dennis and Penny's daughter Heidi. Kylan was killed in Al Hillah, Iraq, on 21 August by an unidentified gunman while on temporary duty with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. After graduating from the Academy in 1994 and serving as a surface warfare officer until August 1991, he remained in the Naval Reserve. A specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, Kylan was recalled to active duty for the war in Iraq. He was stationed in Bahrain, but was in Iraq briefing incoming civil-affairs personnel trying to set up a government in the southern part of the country.

        Thanks to Jim Metcalfe for providing this account from Navy's first football weekend of the year.
    We had a good turnout for the opener against VMI in the newly expanded and renovated Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium -- at least 16 classmates plus their guests. I am sure I missed some folks but here is a partial muster: Carla and Jeff Miles; Arlene and Forrest Siburt; Phil Rooney and a neighbor's son (Phil was AWOL from work renovating Jan's kitchen.); Al Sherman and his daughter Jennifer; Fred Storz and his wife; Sandy and Ron Klemick (up from Wilmington, NC, where Ron has retired); Andrea and Spence Johnson; Nick Nerangis and Doug Thomas (VMI '65); Sharon and Bob Forster; Charlie Stubbs; Larissa and Bruce Webb and Elena; Jennifer and Bill Earner (looking very well despite their work getting the reunion ready); Jan and Peter Quinton (also heavily involved in reunion planning); Chester"Whitey" White; and yours truly and Lisa.

Nick's VMI friend took the day in stride. His presence reminded me of the time Ron Baxter's brother came up from VMI, put on a midshipman's uniform, and masqueraded around Bancroft Hall as one of us. He never got caught. I think the statute of limitations has run and I'm sure the likes of Admirals Kirkpatrick, Minter, and Burke would have found the gig worth a few laughs (after giving Ron the obligatory demerits).

Jeff and Carla have been sponsors for many midshipmen over the years, and have acquired a new plebe to sponsor -- Julie Jordan '05, daughter of our classmate Jerry Jordan and Judy, of Kaneohe, HI. Jerry was a submariner. He is now employed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab. Jerry and Judy have another daughter, Jerylin, who is married to a physician and living in Hawaii, and a son John who is in the Peace Corps and is headed for Malawi.

Lisa and I had a great trip to the UK in July to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons. Matthew is just over two and Adam was born in March. It's tough to get Lisa back on the plane to the USA. Our son Jim has just started his last year of law school at the University of Richmond and was recently selected for LCDR, USNR, in the Supply Corps.

       I can always depend on you guys to respond to a challenge, whatever the topic. The recent claims about grandchildren (having the most, the most of one gender, etc.) brought this counterclaim and a career history from Joe Collins. He seems to have trumped us all.
    I'm writing about the "how many Grandkids" claim first made by Dave Puckett and since answered by a few other guys. I lay claim to twelve, the oldest of whom is nine years old, with another due in October. The youngest of my five children was married this past June, so there is still potential for additions.

       Joe sent a great photo of the twelve kids seen here in living color, but not in the magazine because there is no USNA alumnus in the picture.

Joe Collins' Twelve Grandchildren!

        Joe also submitted his current biographical info for the web site. Here are some excerpts

    After a challenging undergraduate experience, followed by reasonable success on BARTON (DD 722) and AMERICA (CVA 66), together with a wonderful three years on the CINCLANT staff, I left the Navy in 1969. By that time, Suzanne and I had four children, having been married shortly after graduation in '63. We added a fifth in 1972 while I was working at MIT, my only employer after leaving the Navy, and I'm still working there 34 years later. My career has focused on "External Relations." I've been in Government & Community Affairs and Alumni Relations (including 20 years as Director of the MIT Alumni Fund). I am now a Senior Development Officer working on a very large capital fundraising campaign. Along the way, I've done graduate work in American History, served as an Adjunct Professor at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and spent time in the Naval Reserve, retiring as an O-6 and now happily collecting retirement pay.

It surprises me to think that, of all our nearly 900 distinguished classmates, I may have achieved the rank of #1 in one category, that of having the most grandchildren. Each of our four children has three of their own. They all live nearby and we have the pleasure of their company on a regular basis. Suzanne and I are truly fortunate and grateful for all our good fortune after 40 years of marriage.

A new topic: I was struck by Harold Bahr's comments in your July-August column about Steve Toth. Steve had been a member of our 1st , then 21st Company cadre. He was a great athlete and a "gym rat" as I recall. He had a tremendous physique and kept it toned through regular workouts.

I was a Briefing Officer at CINCLANT in June 1967 when LIBERTY was attacked by Israeli aircraft. I was quick to contact Steve's family, who lived in Virginia Beach. Steve's father, a retired Navy Captain, was quite broken up by the tragedy and I recall visiting him. Soon thereafter, Steve was awarded a posthumous medal at a ceremony to which I was pleased to be invited and attended. The citation noted Steve's diligent efforts to fire at the attacking aircraft, using whatever limited weapons --3 inch or 40mm guns - that LIBERTY possessed. It was a very moving ceremony. Steve was a good man!

        Three of us have provided new or revised information for their current biographies on our web site. The first came from Patrick Curtis, bringing things up to date after being out of touch for a while. Here are some excerpts.
    The following provides a fill in for what I have done since leaving the Academy in June 1963. Academics caused my demise, but it only preceded my being separated for medical purposes. That fall I applied with the Central Intelligence Agency and went to work at the National Photographic Intelligence Center in March 1964 as a research analyst. In 1969, they asked me to transfer to a Photo Intelligence Analyst position, which got me involved in many interesting activities - nuclear proliferation, strategic missiles and naval issues. In 1985, I transferred to the Office of Scientific Weapons and Research at CIA Headquarters but continued to work on proliferation issues. In October 1990, I moved to the position of Executive Secretary of the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee. That was one of my better moves. It turned out to a most interesting position, especially during the lead-up to Persian Gulf War.

In October 1995, after 31 years of Federal Service, I finally took the plunge and retired to a life of leisure. I soon learned it was something not meant for me. There was nothing so boring!! I'm now working full-time for BAE Systems in Crystal City working for a Navy Program Office as their Admin Officer and a variety of other things. We are enjoying it very much, but what a change from those former days with the government! It is very laid back - one of those jobs you always look for until you get into it. The major drawback is you are only on the fringe of the activity. The good part is you get to kibitz on occasion with fellow USNA people, swapping sea stories.

I married that young lady whose picture always got me called into the Company Office after leave. Mary Jo and I will celebrate our 40th Anniversary this November. Following our marriage we finally settled down in Maryland (near Andrews AFB) and raised two daughters. The oldest currently works for the Agency. Unfortunately, the youngest daughter was killed in an automobile accident in March 2000. We still miss her very much.

Medically, the doctors say l am doing well. I managed to come through three heart attacks in late 1999 which resulted in a 5-way bypass. Luckily, I was well enough the next day, while still in ICU, to watch Navy kick Army's mule. We still have the ticket to the game. Should anyone from the 22nd Company happen to read this, feel free to call me when in town.

        Here are some excerpts from the info recently provided by Tom Heslop:
    I met my wife, Rella, during my senior year of high school. We were the second couple married in the chapel on graduation day.

During my first five years on active duty as a Supply Officer, I served on the West Coast, and in Japan and Philadelphia. Rella gave me two wonderful sons, Tom, Jr., and Rick who were born during this time.

After leaving active duty I attended seminary and was graduated from Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia with Master of Divinity ('70) and Master of Theology degrees ('72). I was ordained an Elder of the United Methodist Church and returned for fifteen years of active service in the Navy as a Chaplain with assignments in Hawaii, Midway Island, Camp Pendleton, Subic Bay, and San Diego. During that time I obtained a Master of Counseling from National University in San Diego and obtained a California license as a Marriage and Family Therapist from experience at the Naval Hospital Alcohol Rehabilitation Center at Camp Pendleton. Between leaving the Navy in 1988 and my "retirement" this July I served as a United Methodist pastor in four California cities: Anaheim, Santa Paula, Santa Maria, and Shell Beach.

Rella and I love the California Central Coast midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We were fortunate to be able to buy a house in Santa Maria when I served there. We are still close to Shell Beach and considered retiring there if the outrageous home prices were not measured by "proximity to and views of the ocean." Neither of our sons is married. Tom, Jr., works hard starting his own company providing all sorts of computer services and stuff I don't understand. Rick is a GS civilian engineer at Vandenberg AFB.

        A third bio update came from Jack Fischer, who went to sea after graduation but ultimately had a successful career focused on fresh water.
    I served eight years active (Ops Officer on WHIPPOORWILL (MSC-207), XO on GALLUP (PG-85), and Assistant Naval Attache in Chile). Spent twelve years in the reserves, retiring as an O-6 in 1983. Attended graduate school at Michigan State (MS, Forest Hydrology) and Arizona (PhD, Watershed Hydrology) from 1971 to 1976. Worked for the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson, Miami and Reston, Virginia, ultimately as the Associate Director. Retired in 1998.

I married Maria Ortuzar in Santiago, Chile, in 1971. We have two children. Carrie is married to a special forces officer, a West Point graduate, so Army-Navy weekends are exciting. Our son, John Paul, is a pilot with a charter airline out of Easton, MD. Maria continues her landscape architecture business. I sail, golf, garden and participate in various Chesapeake Bay water-quality programs. Life is good.

        In an e-mail in August, Tom Sollars told me about his relocation after many years near Pittsburgh and caught me up on the activities of his dynamic daughters.
    I left Westinghouse in 1990, after 23-plus years. I then started my own energy consulting business in the Pittsburgh area and did well through the '90s. Our older daughter, Karen, went to the University of Dayton Law School and stayed there after she graduated. She became an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and settled in the Dayton area. She is now a Staff Attorney in the Court of Appeals of Ohio. Our other daughter, Tamy, was "lured" to Dayton by her older sister and she, too, settled there. She is now married and needs one more course to get her master's degree in education at U. D. She expects to graduate Magma Cum Laude at the end of this fall's session.

Micki and I found ourselves doing a lot of traveling between home in Murrysville, PA, and Dayton, OH, and decided to move closer to our family. I was able to find a job with a company in the Cincinnati area and we are now Ohioans. The one thing I really miss here in Cinci is a professional football team. I'm still a big Steelers fan and it seems that they are hardly ever televised locally. When the "Bungles" are at home, they are not televised because they don't sell out. We get to watch the Browns instead. As a "true Pittsburgher" that's agonizing and is not a good thing!!!

        Tom Brandt tells us about his contacts with several classmates this summer:
    I've seen or talked to more '63ers in the last month than the previous couple of years. Connie, my wife, is back in Florida while I am attempting to sell our home here in Akron. Returning from a visit in late August, I called Steve Coester for a classmate's telephone number while on my way back from Florida and ended up stopping to have lunch with him and his lovely wife, Yvonne, at their home in Rockledge. Earlier in the month I drove down to Dayton and spent the weekend with Dave Riley while both our wives were out of town. Tom Sollars joined us for lunch and lies (sea stories, etc.) as well as going to the Air Farce museum at Wright Patt. AFB . The next day we drove to Columbus and had dinner with Christine and Phil Gubbins who are trying to bail out for Whidbey Island as soon as they sell their home.
Tom Brandt (left) visits Yvonne and Steve Coester

        Commenting on Tom's visit, Steve noted that they hadn't seen each other since 1963. He said, "Tom told exciting tales of his life flying in the Middle East. It was very enjoyable seeing a classmate here where we usually only see gators and cattle. Other classmates should note that we are a convenient distance north of Miami or south of Jacksonville for a rest stop and a cool drink."

        I received notice recently that because of budget constraints the Alumni Association has decided to reduce the number of issues of Shipmate published each year. Previously, there were ten issues annually, including combined issues in January/February and July/August. Beginning with the issue in your hand, the November and December issues and the May and June issues will also be combined. The limit on the size of class columns will not be increased, meaning that the amount of '63 news in the magazine will be reduced by 8,000 words per year. That will hurt. I hope the new publishing schedule will be only temporary, but I doubt that it will be.

One response I am considering is to prepare two versions of our column from time to time: one for the magazine and an expanded one on our web site. We have already made a move in that direction by publishing on the web site photos which do not conform to Shipmate's editorial policies. The photo of Joe Collins' grandchildren mentioned above is an example. Also, see the Sea Story submitted by Jim Stageman Click Here which appears as a supplement to this column in the Shipmate section of our web site.

  QUALITY - '63

This page is 
   November/December 2003 
posted on:
 16 October 2003
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