December 18, 2008 by esarsea
William F. Heffelmire left us too soon on December 11th 2008. Tough and honorable to the end, he was 78 years old.
Known, loved and respected by so many — in many roles, by many names: Husband, Bill, Dad, Chief, COB, Heff, Boss and in perhaps his greatest and latest role, to his grandchildren, lovingly as “Grumpy.”
Born in Brady Lake, Ohio July 19, 1930 — son of Frederick J. Heffelmire and Orpha Pendleton he left home young for a career in the U.S. Navy. A highly decorated Chief Petty Officer, he rose to the top of his vital profession and became Chief of the Boat (COB) on the greatest vessels and weapon platforms and cold war deterrents ever created — Fast Attack Nuclear Submarines. During his extraordinary 42 year career, he repeatedly refused commissions to officer rank, rejecting what he saw as “a demotion” from COB to Ensign.
In his second full Naval career, as a Navy civil servant, he again rose to the top as General Foreman and Section Head at the Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering Station (NUWES, later NUWC). Along the way he added to his lifetime of practical experience a Bachelor of Science degree.
In his long years of service to the United States and the U.S. Navy, he came to know the four corners of the Earth and the Seven Seas and truly left his mark wherever he served. He was a gifted athlete and fast-pitch baseball player/pitcher back in the day and he maintained his love of the sport his whole life, traveling all over the country to support the sport. He loved bowling, poker, cribbage and was legend across the submarine fleet for his domino playing prowess.
In later years he dedicated himself to helping raise his grandchildren, all well grounded and successful young adults, some of whom have followed in his footsteps into military service, as did all his own sons, in the Navy, Marines, Air Force and as a Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.
In this, his legacy of service and tough, but fair, leadership lives on.
He leaves behind his loving wife Charlotte of 53 years, six children; William; Mary-Anne; Mark; Celia; Eric; and Adria; as well as 11 grandchildren, and son & daughter-in-law Stuart Craig and Darmie Heffelmire.
So in honor of a life extraordinarily well lived and in the tradition of the Navy that he loved and served his entire life — Anchors away. Until we meet once more, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.
A short and somewhat informal service is scheduled for Saturday December 20th at 2 p.m. at the Jackson Park Chapel, 71 Olding Road, Bremerton.