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In Memoriam: William D. Houser

William HouserThe Institute of World Politics honors the memory of Vice Admiral William D. Houser, USN (Ret.) a longtime supporter of the school and a lifelong patriot who passed away this past February.  A member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1942, he went into naval aviation.

In a conversation with his widow Jan Evans Houser, she recalls that their military background was one of the things that drew them together after meeting at a friend’s book party in 1998.  On their first lunch date, she remembers him telling her, “I’m an aviator; I hope that’s all right,” and the only personal question he asked her was about her political views.

He cared about his politics because, as Mrs. Houser notes, “Bill loved his country….  He had a lot of faith in our form of government.”  This is one of the reasons he recognized the importance of the education IWP offers.  “He was very supportive of what [IWP President] John Lenczowski was doing.”

VADM Houser admired how the British celebrated the Battle of Trafalgar and understood the importance of Midway as a turning point in World War II, and he became instrumental in encouraging a major celebration of the Battle of Midway by the U.S. Navy. 

Vice Admiral Gerald E. Miller, USN (Ret.), who delivered the eulogy, remembers him as a “can-do guy,” and Mrs. Houser agrees.  She comments, “When you have been through war and strife as Bill has, you just learn to take everything in stride.  You learn to be ready for anything – evacuation, disasters, whatever comes along.” 

IWP President John Lenczowski comments: “Bill was a distinguished American naval officer and American patriot, and we at the Institute are honored that a man of his background would be as committed as he was to our cause, and that he would see in us some value added to the national security of the United States.”

The Institute of World Politics is grateful for VADM Houser’s service to our country, and for his friendship to our school.

William D. Houser

William “Bill” Douglas Houser was born in Atlanta, Georgia on November 11, 1921, son of Harry M. and Berenice (Horton) Houser.  He entered the US Naval Academy at age 16 with the Class of 42 and graduated in December 1941, following Pearl Harbor.  He spent three years in combat in the Pacific aboard the USS Nashville, including combat in the Battle of Guadalcanal, raids on Marcus and Wake Islands, and the Philippines campaign. 

He entered flight training in 1945 and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1946.  Bill saw combat again in Korea as the skipper of Fighter Squadron 44, and in Vietnam as captain of the carrier USS Constellation.  Other seagoing commands included VF-124 (F8 Replacement Squadron), USS Mauna Loa, and Carrier Division Two as a flag officer.  His final tour of duty was as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare. 

After his naval service, Bill pursued a successful technology career spanning 20 years.  Bill passed away peacefully with his wife Jan at his side on February 5, 2012.

Bill received the 2003 Naval Academy Distinguished Graduate Award and the 1972 Tailhooker of the Year.  He also helped establish the Midway Foundation, the Annual Midway Dinner, and the Midway Memorial in the Naval Academy Yard.

Bill was married for 51 years to the former Betty Lou Worrell, who served during and after World War II as a WAVE.  Betty Lou passed away 16 May 1997.  He is survived by Jan King Evans Houser, his wife since 2003; his three daughters – Cindy Riera, Gayle Fogleman, and Francie Washington; his six grandchildren; his great granddaughter; his two step-daughters – Karla MacMahon and Louise Turner – and his five step-grandchildren.