|Birth: ||Feb. 18, 1929|
|Death: ||Apr. 13, 2012|
WALTER B. HUBBELL Captain, USN (Ret.) Following a courageous battle to recover from a tragic fall last year, Walter was compassionately granted eternal peace April 13, 2012. Walter departed this life at home, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marilyn Marlese Hubbell. A hero and inspiration to his surviving children, John Hubbell (Nancy), Judy Henry (Greg) and Anna Koropchak (Philip). His loving grandchildren, Jack, Grace, Nick, Maddie and Kayla. His sisters Mary Petersen of Wichita, KS, Lucy Berry of Tulsa, OK and brother John Hubbell of Kent. OH. He is preceded in death by his son, David Lee Hubbell, parents Clarence and Nancy Hubbell, brothers Paul, Clarence, Joe and sister Jessie Scaggs. Walter was born February 18, 1929 in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Navy July 11, 1946. He advanced to signal man, third class, on the Kearsarge (CV33) before entering the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1953. As a Midshipman, Walter earned the honor of All American playing defense for the 1953 USNA Lacrosse team. He served on the Logan (APA 196) and the submarines Sea Leopard, Barbero, Abraham Lincoln, Sailfish and commanded Corporal. Walter also served as Director of Tactics, at Submarine School and graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces before serving as Chief Staff Officer on Submarine Squadron 14 in Holy Loch, Scotland. He served in J5 Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff before retiring in November 1976. After retiring, Walter attended George Mason University, in Fairfax, VA, earning a degree in nursing, becoming a Registered Nurse. He worked for Arlington Hospital (VHC) and Alexandria Hospital (INOVA) for fifteen years. He delighted in playing softball with the Northern Virginia Senior Softball Association until he was 75 years of age. A memorial service in Walter's honor will be held at 11 a.m., May 5, 2012 at Heritage Presbyterian Church, 8503 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22308. A burial with full military honors will be held for Captain Hubbell at Arlington National Cemetery.
Remarks by his brother at Walt's memorial Service :
His passing left a lonely place against the sky, as when a lordly cedar goes down with a great shout upon the hills.
Those lines are from a poem written over a century ago and dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. The passing of Walter Bates Hubbell, Captain, United States Navy, leaves a lonely place, never mind our efforts to accept the end of a life. Indeed, we can refer to a ritual such as this one today as a celebration, however tinged with sadness, with regret, with melancholy.
When Marlese asked if I would speak today, I replied that I'd be honored. I do have one advantage—I knew Walt Hubbell longer than anyone present. Memories of my brother, from the earliest to the last, can hardly be numbered and sorting them through has been a bit of a challenge. In this case limitations of time could be a blessing, for me and for you.
A nautical theme would perhaps be appropriate and perhaps the idea of a Fitness Report is not too far fetched. Today's remarks are only excerpts from a book of memories, those mystic chords of memory that bind us all together. It may also be appropriate to recall the adage, more true than not, that the child is father to the man, hence my emphasis upon Walt's early years, years that I shared with him and which remain of consequence to me. And of consequence to some of you.
Walt was six years older than I – and we lived on a farm in eastern Oklahoma until the spring of 1944, when he had just turned 15. I remember him from those years as someone always in motion, doing something necessary to the farm, interesting and exciting things. He could swim, ride a horse, milk cows, raise a prize sow (named Lucille), drive a wagon and team, follow a walking cultivator, act in school plays, skin possums, capture snakes, build camp fires—tell stories—and often let me tag along. I suppose that this was all fairly ordinary for a farm boy, but an event that I recalled in later years, was anything but ordinary. He saved a life.
A half dozen boys had gone for a swim in a pond on a neighboring farm, one of those muddy creations that locals called tanks. Mama really didn't like for me to go as I couldn't swim, but Walt promised to look out for me. At some point, two boys decided to swim across the pond and back, a small distance, perhaps 50 yards. On the way back one of the boys began to struggle in the deepest water and called out to Walter for help. Walt ran to a nearby tree, wrestled off a dead limb, went into the pond, extended the limb to the nearly exhausted boy and towed him into shallow water. I was in a state of sheer fright and a dim realization that I'd witnessed a heroic deed, an example of coolness, if not under fire, at least under dire circumstances. He was fourteen years of age and seldom referred to that event.
The school years 1944-46, Walt spent at Central High School in Muskogee, about ten miles from our farm, a short distance geographically, but in other ways a separate universe. He seemed to adapt readily to his junior and senior years at a school whose senior class was larger than the entire enrollment of the consolidated school that we'd left. He had a part time job in a furniture store, made good grades, played B-team football (at offensive tackle) and found a circle of friends, including a couple of really cute girls. In fact, he escorted an attendant at the crowning of the football queen.
In the summer of 1946, Walt enlisted in the Navy and departed for boot camp at San Diego. I missed him more than I might have expected; I had lost that sense of security, of safety, that I'd always sensed in his presence.
His return home on boot leave revealed a young man, barely 17 years of age, in a blue uniform . A second leave, some months later, revealed a young man of an increasingly strong build, and wearing a set of tailored blues, with his initials embroidered inside the cuffs. He also smoked cigarettes.
By then he was assigned to a carrier, the Kearsarge, and served on the bridge, where interesting things happened and where various officers, including the ship's captain, noticed him. He also pulled liberty in New York City where he ate at Jack Dempsey's restaurant and visited a stage show where Jo Stafford sang "Near You." The officers on the Kearsarge encouraged him to apply for an appointment to the Naval Academy. This meant spending a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School at Bainbridge, MD., where he studied math and physics and worked out in a well appointed gym. His hard work and the confidence of the Kearsarge officers resulted in an appointment to the Naval Academy, Class of 1953.
The news created a bit of excitement at home, a photo in the local paper, and comments from people who insisted on referring to the capital of Maryland as "Indianapolis." Walt came home at Christmas 1949, the one leave he was allowed during his plebe year. He was really spiffy in his uniform—certainly he dazzled me—but I did notice that when he said goodbye to Mama, he seemed a bit downcast. He told me later that the first semester was a trial in many ways. The course work was demanding and the hazing would have done justice to a fraternity house. But then he braced himself—after all, he had served three years in the Navy and could certainly hold his own within that rite of passage. He did that and more. Once past that first semester, Walt rather liked the Academy. He met interesting people, saw interesting places, and excelled in most matters important to Midshipmen.
As for me, I followed his progress in detail, reading his copious and informative letters and reading student publications, especially the Log Splinter, which contained stories , jokes, and cartoons that I sometimes understood.
Two developments were particularly noteworthy. In his first class year, Walt was an All-American lacrosse player and in the spring semester was appointed to the Brigade staff. In a class of almost 900, he stood fifth in what was termed professional aptitude, of leadership potential. In January 1953, he marched at the head of the Naval Academy contingent in President Eisenhower's inaugural parade. No matter his future successes, that impresses me to this very day.
1953 was consequential in other ways. In July I joined the Marines. This after a year working as a student x-ray technician at a local hospital I liked the work well enough, even if some of the student nurses could be a bit distracting. When I was in boot camp and Walt was in the West Pac on a troop transport, the Logan, he wrote to say that he would have preferred the Navy for me, or even the Army. I'll not repeat what he said about the Air Force. In April 1954, before I left for Korea and the 1st Marine Division, I visited Walt on the Logan, anchored off Long Beach. He let me wear his Hong Kong suit while I kept him company as he stood the mid-watch. The next morning we had breakfast in the officer's mess and I was really excited. A hard charging 19 year old FMF trooper, just finishing eight weeks of infantry training, ready to chow down in style. Walt ordered for us—poached eggs. I was reminded of a comment our Grandmother Roselle once said—"A poached egg tastes just like a wet dog smells." A couple of chili-cheese burgers on the way back to Camp Pendleton took care of the hunger pangs and in due course I came to abide poached eggs. Walt atoned on Christmas Day 1956 when he, Marlese and I shared dinner on the Sea Leopard, tied up at Norfolk.
Marlese and Walt married in 1956 and as his career continued on its arc of distinction, Marlese added to and enhanced that progress, acting as a force multiplier. On the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1953, Walter placed at the top of his list of achievements his marriage, his family, his children, his grandchildren.
I must admit that when I read that reference to his family, it evoked questions. After all, by any measure he had distinguished himself in his profession. And he was not without ambition, which within bounds is appropriate—even necessary. But to achieve ones ends, without corrupting them, is always a challenge.
In a letter of April 20, 1962—a half century ago—Walt wrote to me about his religious beliefs. He was skeptical of the institutional church, yet believed himself to be religious. He believed in a Creator, he found solace in the Bible, and found the presence of God, a witness as it were, among the giant sequoias and at sea, as he described his feelings when in a great storm in the Pacific. He also discussed patriotism and remarked that he sometimes confused the two. Dr. Samuel Johnson is famous for saying that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Less known is his qualifying phrase—"He did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self interest."
I must tell you that brother Walt closed this elevated and thoughtful essay with these words: "I think that I shall go drink a glass of Falstaff." Reassuring.
Coincidentally, some forty years later Walt and Marlese visited me in the Cleveland Clinic. Walt had by then reconciled, more or less, his differences with the institutional church. He left me a copy of a commentary on the Book of Mark, by the Scottish theologian, William Barclay. Just this past week I came across an underlined passage, a reference to the Pharisees demanding a sign from Jesus (Mark 8:11-13). Wrote Dr. Barclay: "The sign of truly religious people is not that they come to church to find God, but they find God everywhere, not that they make a great deal of sacred places, but that they sanctify common places." And "For anyone who has eyes to see and a heart to understand, the daily miracle of night and day and the daily splendor of common things are signs enough from God." Patriotism and Christian Witness. A philosophy worthy of consideration.
In recent weeks I have heard Walt described as a gentleman, as a good man. An apt description, but he was more than that. He was not given to ostentation, to grand gestures. William Blake wrote: "He who would do good to another, must do it in minute particulars. General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer." Walt must have known and believed this and the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me." Nor are words or fine phrases enough—as Jesus described the Pharisees, "They say and they do not!" And in the underappreciated Book of James, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works." Walt said as much in that letter of April 1962. "To me religion is a day-by-day, everyday, occupation." Nicely put, big brother.
Walt's last days were in some ways a measure of what we admired in him, even in the apparent contradictions. Dylan Thomas's admonition, "Do not go gently into that good night—Rage, rage against the dying at the light"—was balanced by that comforting passage in II Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
And now—today—gathered in this sacred place, we are reminded that every day is judgment day. That life begins and life must end. That life and death are one, as the rivers and the seas are one. That death is a horizon, and the horizon is but the limit of our vision. There will be memorials and remembrances and monuments in Walter Hubbell's name. All appropriate and with meaning.
But the true memorial to this remarkable man is all around us. His true memorial is in his life's work, his record of service—and in his family, the house and home that Walter and Marlese established here. This memory and this memorial we shall carry always with us, even--God willing—beyond the horizon.
Marilyn Marlese Davis Hubbell (1932 - 2013)*
Note: Interred September 10, 2012
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 36A Site 550
Created by: Jack Davison
Record added: May 12, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 90014469
Proud to be in '53|
Added: Nov. 14, 2012
Thank you for your great service in preserving our country's freedoms. I will honor you in the only way that I can . . . by remembering you always. May you rest in peace knowing that you truly embodied the ideals of "Duty, Honor, Country."|
Charles A. Lewis
Added: Aug. 25, 2012
Added: Aug. 19, 2012