ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Captain David Spencer Bill, Jr. USN (Ret.), 87, the former director of amphibious warfare on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations died Nov. 29, 2003, at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Born Oct. 22, 1916, in Richmond, he descended from John Bill who settled in Boston in the 1620s. Part of his family migrated to Southwest Virginia in 1853 and his ancestors included the founders of Snowville and Spencer, Va. Captain Bill was a 1939 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He attended Ohio State University for one year prior to his appointment to Annapolis where he was captain of the tennis team and excelled academically.
During his distinguished naval service he held nine commands: three during World War II; an anti submarine patrol craft, PC583, USS O'Neill (DE 188) and USS Hughes (DD410) - serving in the Atlantic on convoy escort duty and Pacific in the battles for the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Following World War II, Captain Bill commanded Destroyer Division 1 during the Bikini Tests and was chief of staff to the commander of the Middle East Force from 1953-54, during which time the Bill's family became one of the first U.S. Navy families to live on Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf, now the site of a major US naval installation and a key ally in the region.
His subsequent commands at sea included USS Shea (DM 30), Landing Ship Medium Rocket (LSMR) and Landing Ship Tank (LST) Squadrons, USS Francis Marion (APA 249) during the Cuban missile crisis, and Amphibious Squadron Eight based in Little Creek, Va.
While in the final post of his 30-year naval career, Bill was responsible for the development of the Riverine Force deployed extensively in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, and for the Amphibious Helicopter Carrier (LHA) program which marked a major advance in amphibious operations for the Navy and Marine Corps.
He retired from the US Navy in 1969. After leaving the Navy, Bill worked as a consultant, a real estate broker and managed an executive tax service for 30 years, retiring in January 2003.
A resident of Alexandria since 1969, he was an avid sportsman and a longtime member of the Army Navy Country Club.
Captain Bill is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Charlotte Randolph Harris of Norfolk and daughter of Congressman Winder R. Harris (D-Va.), who was also managing editor of the Norfolk Virginian Pilot for 15 years.
He is also survived by his three children, Rear Admiral David Spencer Bill, III, USN (Ret.) of Pebble Beach, Calif., Winder Harris Bill of Virginia Beach and Charlotte Randolph Bill of Charlottesville; and five grandchildren. In Sikeston, Mo., he is survived by his nephew, Sikeston resident and former mayor Josh Bill.
In 1991, his eldest son, Rear Admiral David Bill III was the honorary grand marshal of Sikeston's Veteran's Day Parade, having served in the first Gulf war as commanding officer of the Battleship Wisconsin.
A memorial service will be held on April 30, 2004, at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorials in recognition of Captain Bill's dedicated service to his country can be made through contributions to the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation, P.O. Box 8626, Monterey, CA 93943-8626.