Willis S. Rich

Will Rich submitted the bio that follows several months ago, when he and Jan were planning to attend the 50 year reunion. Sadly, Will passed away on August 24th. 


Nobody could encapsulate the life of our friend and classmate better than Will himself has done. “Aloha Classmates.  This piece may sound like a farewell, and that may be the case.  I was diagnosed in January 2005 with stage 4 colon cancer.  Now, after 1.5 years, I have stopped chemotherapy and am enrolled in hospice.  God’s will be done.


The years since our Plebe Summer have been a series of blessings.  I will limit myself to the most important events.


-  Finding my future wife at a Newman Club Tea Fight.  On November 14, Bob Berg burst into my room requesting that I accompany him to the “Macsnap” tea fight at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis.  I resisted, but Bob persisted and once there I asked Jan Bradley, sophomore at Catholic University, to dance.  Jan and I were married on July 7, 1956 and our love has grown exponentially over the years.  We are blessed with 4 daughters, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson.


-  Rooming with Con Stevenson.  Although we split up as roommates in our 1/C year, when I moved into a 2-man room with Paul Davidson, I value my ongoing friendship with Con as a highlight of my life.


-  Joining John Forbrick as one of two replacements on the “Great Eight” Navy Crew (1952 Olympic Champions).  When two members of the class of 53 graduated, Coach Rusty Callow immediately assigned John Forbrick to replace Bob Detweiller in seat #5.  Several races later, Callow selected me to replace Frank Shakespear in bow.  I cannot describe the thrill of rowing with those seven champions.  Also, the bond that I formed with fellow oarsmen of all classes has never weakened.


-  The Navy Years.  During my 30 years on active duty I have enjoyed opportunities that would be hard to match in any other period:  three XO tours (LST, SSBN, SSN) and three CO tours (SSN, SSBN, AS).


-  Post-Navy Years.  Associate Dean, College of Engineering, Boston University; General Manager of a small research company, and finally Mathematics Instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.


-  Volunteer Work.  Mathematics instruction (GED preparation) for prisoners at Halawa Correctional Facility; various volunteer positions at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua, HI, and service on the Board of Directors, Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association.”