Obtaining Obituaries and Chairs

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Policy and Objective: An Obituary for Every Classmate in Shipmate and the Naval Academy Archives for Class Legacy, and a Memorial Seat at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for Every Deceased Classmate Graduate.

Obituary Process/Steps:

A.) Awareness of the passing of a classmate: Could be from the Alumni Association Obituaries Coordinator (from daily review of US newspapers, etc.), classmate, family, or company rep keeping in touch with company-mates.

B.) Person first learning of the death of a classmate promptly (so as to alert classmates and wives who may wish to attend the services) inform the class via the group e-mail (56USNA). If not on 56USNA inform the Class Secretary Doug Hayman (dfhayman@comcast.net) who will then notify the class. The Class Secretary at this point will provide to the class webmaster a short input for the TAPS section and our Shipmate correspondent, Dan Garges (magdan_56@yahoo.com), for a short notification paragraph in the Shipmate column. This awareness will prompt the class secretary to begin the search for a Shipmate obituary preparer, generally through the Company Reps.

C.) Class Secretary will obtain someone to prepare the Shipmate obituary. Preparer will first contact the widow/family about the Shipmate obituary before proceeding. The preparer can come from any of the following:

  1. The Company Rep himself… OR
  2. Classmate, friend or roommate… OR
  3. Family decides to prepare (may also wish to work with Class Secretary, or other classmate/Company Rep)… OR
  4. In some cases a friend of the family or a friend from another USNA class may step up

D.) To get started suggest the preparer review obituaries in Shipmate, newspaper obituary if one available ( in most cases provided by the Alumni Association Obituaries Coordinator to the Class Secretary), and bios in the 25th, 40th, 50th, and 55th reunion books for starters and, of course, work with the widow and family for needed input. Obtain a recent photo from the widow/family to accompany the obituary in Shipmate. Only one photo may accompany the text in Shipmate. and will be returned once the magazine has been printed. If sending the photo electronically, the resolution must be at least 300 dpi. If photo not provided, the Alumni Association will use the Lucky Bag photo.

E.) Preparer submit obituary with recent photo to the Alumni AssociationPreparer submit obituary with recent photo to the Alumni Association (obits@usna.com) and info the Class Secretary (dfhayman@comcast.net). The writer must coordinate final version with the widow/family before submitting to obits@usna.com. If preparer does not wish to submit directly to the Alumni Association send to the Class Secretary, who will submit. In any case, to feel more comfortable or if unsure, the preparer can have the Class Secretary review before submitting it to the Alumni Association. If not provided, the Alumni Association will use the Lucky Bag photo for the obituary.

F.) As a last step the Class Secretary will provide the obituary with recent photo to our webmaster for inclusion in the Detailed/Total Obituaries section of our website, and to replace the short paragraph in the Taps section and to add the name to the Guide to Memorial Seats section of our website. NOTE: The Taps section lists the obituaries only for the past year. The Detailed/Total Obituaries of the website has all class obituaries to date, just by clicking on a name.

G.) Widow/Family sensitivities should be considered in regard to when and how to contact the Widow/Family about a Shipmate obituary, e.g., could be at the funeral services or some days later as the situation evolves.

H.) The Alumni Association will provide copies of Shipmate containing the obituary to the widow/family if the widow/family so desires. The widow/family should be asked by the preparer if one is desired who will provide names and addresses of those family members to receive copies to the Alumni Ass’n. (Jackie Furton at 410-295-4073 or Tonya White at 410-295-4066.

The Alumni Ass’n Obituaries Coordinator is Timothy Elizabeth Woodbury (timothy.woodbury@usna.com or 410-295-4064) should she need to be contacted on any Shipmate obituary matter.

Stadium Memorial Seats

Following the obituary, the next step is to obtain a stadium memorial seat for the deceased classmate. NOTE: Before initiating the process, the Class Secretary – in conjunction with Sherrie Werner, who manages the seat program at the Athletic Ass’n – will determine if the deceased already has a seat (previously purchased by him or his family, etc). It is the policy of the Class to arrange for/assure one stadium seat for each deceased classmate, unless one already exists.

A.) A donor or donors is found for either $1,000 or, as a last resort, an already-purchased, but not yet dedicated seat, i.e., a banked seat (definition below.) NOTE: We don’t as a matter of policy/sound practice solicit the widow/family for seats, but if she/they volunteer to provide one, it will receive first priority.

  1. A classmate – roommate, shipmate, friend – may step forward and offer to buy a seat by contacting either the company rep or the class secretary (dfhayman@comcast.net) / seat coordinator or by contacting the Foundation directly. Sometimes a member of another class may wish to do so and contact the Foundation. These voluntary actions generally follow the posting of the death on 56USNA or in the Shipmate class column or Last Call listing or in newspaper obituaries.
  2. If no one steps forward, the class secretary will ask the company rep of the deceased to solicit company-mates to contribute for the seat collectively or on an individual basis.
  3. Next, the class secretary may solicit the entire class for a volunteer donor or donors.
  4. Lastly, the class secretary will use a banked seat, first through the company rep if a banked seat is in that company. If not, the class secretary will solicit across the class for owners of banked seats to donate one (“banked” seats are already-purchased– generally under the Take-a-Seat Program of the recent N-MC Stadium renovation – but not yet dedicated seats which the donor gives to the Class/Company to be used as the Class Secretary/seat coordinator decides).

B.) Payment:

  1. Checks (made payable to “Naval Academy Foundation”) should be sent to: Naval Academy Foundation, Attn: Take a Seat Program, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402-5001.
  2. Include a note specifying the name and class year of the deceased, and also include that information on the “For” part of the check (lower left corner), e.g. Joe Gish, ‘56.

C.) Confirmation

  1. After receiving the donation, the Foundation will send a seat-plate wording form and a list of wording examples. An official gift receipt will be sent to the donor separately. If the seat-plate wording form should be sent to someone other than the donor, mention that in the note that accompanies the check.
  2. For further information contact: 410-295-4111, Carolyn McCollum.

D.) Installation

  1. Following the determination of the seat location, the Athletic Association will send the donor a letter identifying the seat location, copy to our Secretary, Doug Hayman, who then sends a letter on seat location to the widow telling her the name and address of the donor. Doug Hayman also follows up on the donor letter if no letter/information received on a backlog of new seats.
  2. For practical reasons it is not possible to send photos of the seat/nameplate with this letter. However, if the donor or family STRONGLY DESIRE a photo, the Athletic Association will accommodate them upon request. It is not feasible for the Athletic Ass’n to take a picture of every seat/nameplate in the stadium. 
  3. Nameplates are generally affixed to the seats on a quarterly basis, so it may take a while before receipt of the seat location letter. 
  4. For questions regarding installation, contact Sherrie Werner at the Athletic Assoc. 410-293-8708.

Further information on stadium memorial seats and writing an obituary can be found in the Last Call section of the website.


  1. The Foundation handles the seat purchase transaction and the Athletic Association handles the seat location, because the Athletic Association is responsible for the stadium and the Foundation for fundraising.
  2. Though not a part of the ’56 N-MC stadium seat program, the Foundation also has the Honor Seat Program for purchasing seats in Alumni Hall for $1,000 – a small brass plate on the arm rest containing name, class, and rank (if applicable). For further information contact: 410-295-4111, Carolyn McCollum.

For all contact information please see the Class Register.

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