Capt. Bill Reed, U.S. Navy (ret.): December 26, 1935 - April 4, 2008

He wore a tuxedo with all the ease and elegance of Cary Grant. He was a man of grace and manners, a man's man who never met a lady he couldn't charm. He was a leader, a war hero, a quiet man who was never at a loss for words. Rich of voice and vocabulary, he was a storyteller, a reader and a thinker. He finished the crossword puzzle every day. He was at home everywhere: the tennis courts, the ski slopes, the cockpit of a Navy airplane, the deck of a Navy ship or at the helm of his own sailboat. He could whip up a superb spaghetti à la carbonara for friends on a moment's notice. His martinis were legendary and lethal. He played piano and blue-grass banjo and loved each and every dog and cat that graced his household over the years. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend, and he left us before we were ready to have him go.

Retired Navy Captain William H. Reed lost a brave fight with a blood disorder on Friday, April 4 at Balboa Naval Hospital, where he had been admitted April 2. He died the way he lived, with dignity and courage. With him were his wife of 49 years, Dolores (Dodo,) a small group of loving friends and the Reverend Steve Mather of Coronado Community Church.

Bill was born on Dec. 26, 1935, spending much of his childhood in Long Beach. At Lakewood Junior High School he met a willowy blonde classmate named Dolores Collier. He loved to tell of walking down the hall behind her in eighth grade “really liking those long legs.” They graduated together from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, after which Bill went on to USC, graduating in 1958 and entering flight school in Pensacola, Fla. that same year. He and Dodo were married the day he was commissioned as an ensign on May 1, 1959. He served his country as a naval officer for exactly 27 years, retiring on May 1, 1986. Bill had three commands at sea and served on four different aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. His friend Tom Mustin remembers Bill talking about the tragic 1966 fire on board the Oriskany where 44 men lost their lives, many of them aviators. “He told me that a lot of the guys had given up hope and were saying their final prayers. He said, ‘Not me. I was gonna find a way out of there.' And of course he did.”

His medals included the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, six Air Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, three Navy Unit Commendations, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 10 Stars and many others.

After retirement, Bill was vice president of SYS Engineering in San Diego. An active member of the Coronado Cays Yacht Club, he was the only person ever to serve as commodore twice. Bill was a also a member of Rotary International of Coronado, the Order of the Blue Gavel, the Naval Order of the United States, the Association of Naval Aviation, the National Rifle Association and Unconcerned Citizens. Recently, Bill and Dodo embarked on a new business venture, Curves of Coronado, where Bill was a familiar sight, poring over the books.

Survivors, in addition to Dolores, are his brother Russell Reed; son Michael Reed; daughter Julie Farrell; daughter and son-in-law Christine Reed and Rich Farrell; and four grandchildren, Lucas; Kaitlyn; Thomas; and Henry.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Donations in memory of Bill Reed may be made to www.hugsforchildren.org, an organization that aids orphaned children in Uganda.

To plant a tree in memory of Navy Capt. Bill Reed as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.