Obituary of William Cornell Magee
Captain William (Bill) Cornell Magee, USN (Ret’d.) of Wicomico Church, VA, passed away peacefully in Richmond, VA on July 5th, 2019 at the age of 94. The oldest child of the late Hugh Fairly Magee, Sr. and Dorothy Cornell Magee, he was born on January 27th, 1925 in Brooklyn, NY. He lived his early years in Ridgewood, NJ and was the cherished older brother of the late Hugh Fairly Magee, Jr., and of Laurin Magee of The Villages, Florida.
After having graduated from Asheville School, NC, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Richmond in 1948, and later an MS in Management from the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and received his commission as Ensign in March of 1945. He was a career naval officer specializing in mine warfare while in the junior ranks, and in destroyers in the more senior ranks. He served on a total of nine ships, including a salvage ship, minesweepers, a convoy escort patrol craft, and, as Captain, two destroyers, the USS Claud Jones DE 1033 and USS Glennon DD 840. Additionally, he served as Commander Destroyer Division Two Zero Two (202). His ships were actively engaged in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the so-called “Cold War.” For his service in these wars, and perhaps most notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was awarded 19 medals, including the Purple Heart, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.
After retiring from the Navy in 1970, he spent seventeen years in Annapolis, MD, where he owned and operated a marina business before retiring for the second time and building a very special home in Wicomico Church, VA, on the Northern Neck of the Chesapeake Bay. In the latter endeavor he was greatly helped by his godson Madison Spencer, who was the architect of the home and the son of Bill’s longtime close friend, the late Reid Spencer. He also spent much time sailing on the Chesapeake in his boat Paramour, was an avid reader and book collector, and enjoyed the challenge of stock market investment.
Never married, he was Captain, wise counselor, and dear friend to many. Known as a quick wit and raconteur, his Navy stories were legend amongst family, friends, neighbors, and former colleagues.
He leaves behind his loving sister Laurin, his former sister-in-law Madeleine Smith of Winchester, MA, his nephew John Magee and wife Sanjukta Roy of Toronto, Canada, and their daughters Sanjana and Helena, nephew William Magee of Modesto, CA, and nephew Thomas Magee and wife Isobel of Winchester, MA and their children Benjamin and Beatrice, and many friends, neighbors, and fellow servicemen.
He was a member of the University Club in New York and of the New York Yacht Club.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, July 13th, at Powell Funeral Home in Amityville, NY, followed immediately by burial in Amityville Cemetery, NY. Further information may be obtained from Powell Funeral Home, Amityville, NY.