Cover photo for William Charles Haskell's Obituary
William Charles Haskell Profile Photo
1926 William 2020

William Charles Haskell

November 22, 1926 — April 24, 2020

Captain William Charles Haskell, USN, Retired, of Norwich, NY and Arlington, VA, died April 24, 2020 in Burke, VA. He was a good man who loved God, his family, our country, the United States Navy, and Norwich, NY. Captain Haskell is survived by his daughter and son-in law, Anne and Bob DeLong of Clifton, VA, and his son and daughter-in-law George and Emily Haskell of New York City, and their children, Charlie, Elizabeth, and Henry. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Bengert Carry and her husband, Bill, of Sylvan Lake, MI, eight nieces and nephews in the Carry and Tuzo families, cousins Howard Sullivan and Chuck Sullivan, several O’Hara’s and many Norwich friends who are “almost family,” including Grace Benson Gustafson.

Captain Haskell is the son of the late George Francis Haskell, who came to Norwich from Hyde Park, MA, worked at the Norwich Pharmacal Company and the Norwich Knitting Mill and married Jane Conway Hartigan. Their son, William Charles, born on November 22, 1926, was five years old when his father died. In 1935, his mother remarried George W. Bengert, who started as a chemist at the Norwich Pharmacal Company and ultimately became President and Chairman.

Growing up on Hayes Street, Bill, as he was known as a young boy, had stars and stripes in his eyes and dreams of following the family tradition of becoming a Naval Officer. With that goal in mind, he attended New York Military Academy and The Severn School, and was then appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1945. Thus began 32 years of service to our country and 75 years of Navy stories.

Bill Haskell became known as “Charlie” at the Naval Academy and upon his graduation from the Academy in 1949 the newly commissioned Ensign went to flight school at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL. It was here he met and married his “North Star,” Dolores Pinney,
in 1951, and took off on an adventure of almost 60 years until her death in 2010.

Captain Haskell’s Navy assignments took him to many overseas ports around the world and he and Dolores lived all across the United States, with duty stations in: Quonset Point, RI; Corpus Christi, TX; State College, PA; Monterey, CA; Brunswick, GA; Key West, FL; Coronado, CA; Jacksonville Beach, FL; East Greenwich, RI; Norfolk, VA; North Kingstown, RI; Arlington, VA; Washington DC; Annapolis, MD, and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

It is said that for an active duty naval officer, “home is where the Navy sends you,” but for Charlie, home was always Norwich, and most especially, Chenango Lake, where he and Dolores enjoyed more than 20 summers together, joined by family and friends from near and far. He was proud to have come from Norwich, always calling it an “All American Town,” and the Lake, his “favorite place on earth.” An enthusiastic golfer and aficionado of Broadway music, Charlie was known for his gregarious personality, marvelous storytelling (“some of them are even true”), and exceptional grin. He loved life to the end and lived out his motto: “It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.”

Highlights of Captain Haskell’s 32-year Navy career included flying in the Korean War when he was barely out of advanced flight training. He went on to become a Carrier Pilot engaged in Anti-Submarine warfare while based on board the Aircraft Carriers USS Shangri-La, USS Wasp, and the USS Essex. He served in multiple squadrons and was stationed in Key West, FL during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Later, he served as Commander of Air Group 54, which had the distinction of extricating the astronauts and retrieving the Apollo 7 Space Capsule from the Atlantic Ocean. This was broadcast live on CBS with Captain Haskell narrating from the helicopter above the capsule for Walter Cronkite’s Evening News.

In addition, he taught ROTC at Penn State University, attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forced in Washington DC, and received his Master’s Degree from George Washington University. He often said that every job he had in the Navy was “4.0”, except a few where he had to “fly a desk at the Pentagon.”

But perhaps the best was saved for last. His final assignment in the Navy was Deputy for Operations at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1973 until he retired in 1977. In this capacity, everything having to do with the Academy except academics and sports was in his portfolio. Captain Haskell was responsible for making the academy function both as a unique military installation and also a small town. Whether it was keeping the academy buildings and grounds ship-shape, organizing Presidential visits, procuring a new mascot, Bill the Goat (in Peru), or planning how to properly accommodate women as students at the Academy when that law passed Congress in 1974, Charlie was in the thick of it all, while Dolores served as the President of the Naval Academy Women’s Club, a scholarship organization. For the first time in his career Captain Haskell had military quarters and the family lived in a 1800s old brick house overlooking the parade grounds, where Charlie had marched in formation three decades earlier as a Midshipman. He had come full circle.

A private Mass of Christian Burial was offered at St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, VA on May 1, 2020 with strains of the hymns, America the Beautiful, Ava Maria, Panis Angelicus, Holy God we Praise thy Name and the revered Navy Hymn: Eternal Father Strong to Save. Charlie’s last flight was from Washington DC to Syracuse for burial at St. Paul’s cemetery
in Norwich on May 22, 2020. Contributions in memory of Captain Haskell can be made to St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, the Norwich YMCA, the South New Berlin Fire Department, or Chenango Memorial Hospital.

Loving Son, Super Brother, Adored Husband, Best Dad, Wonderful Father-in-Law, Happy Grandpa, Loyal Friend, Faithful Catholic, American Patriot. Pull chocks, wheels up. William Charles Haskell has gone home to God and come home to Norwich. Full circle once again. Fair Winds and Following Seas.

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