In Memoriam: Chester W. Nimitz, Jr


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death January 2, 2002, of Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member of the Corporation Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Jr., USN (Ret.) at his home in Needham, MA. He was 86. In failing health, he and his wife of 63 years, Joan (Labern) Nimitz, 89, took their own lives in an apparent suicide pact.

Admiral Nimitz became a WHOI Associate in 1962 and was named a Member of the Corporation in 1964. In 1967 he was elected a Trustee, and served the following year as a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Physical Oceanography. He also served as a member of the Trustee's Quissett Campus Committee in 1973, and attended many Corporation meetings, Associates dinners and Institution events through the years.

Chester William Nimitz, Jr., was born February 17, 1915, in Brooklyn, NY, and received a B.S. degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1936. The only son and namesake of the legendary World War I military commander who was in charge of the nation's land, sea and air forces in the Pacific during World War II, Chester Nimitz, Jr., made his own name in the Navy in World War II and the Korean War. He was stationed on the submarine USS Sturgeon when Pearl Harbor was attacked and later became executive officer of the USS Bluefish. He earned the Navy Cross, three Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for his service aboard submarines and destroyers. He retired from the U.S. Navy as captain in 1957 and was later promoted to Rear Admiral in retirement in recognition of his combat experience.

Following his retirement from the Navy, Chester Nimitz, Jr., worked at Texas Instruments from 1957 to 1961 before joining the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, a manufacturer of scientific instruments in Norwalk, Connecticut, as general manager of the firm¹s instrument division. He was named President, Chief Executive Officer and Director in 1965, and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1969 upon the death of Richard Perkin. He retired from Perkin-Elmer in 1980 but continued his affiliation with the firm as Chairman Emeritus. Admiral Nimitz also served as a director of Edo Corporation, U.S. Trust Company of New York, and Atlantic Mutual Insurance Companies, and was a Trustee of St. Lawrence University.

The couple is survived by three daughters, Frances Zehmer of Richmond, VA, Elizabeth Van Dorn of Boston, MA, and Sarah Smith of Milton, MA; five grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. Burial will be private, and no memorial service is planned.


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