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BIRDSONG, DEAN J. March 26, 1921 to May 15, 2012 CDR Dean J. Birdsong, USN (Ret.), 91, passed away suddenly May 15, 2012. Son of James and Opal Birdsong, Dean ("Bird" to his closest friends) was born on March 26, 1921, in McCracken, Kansas. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Louann, his twin sons, Mark and Jim, of San Diego, Jim's wife, Lydia, daughter Leslie, of Pittsburg, CA, her husband, Mike, and grandson, Christopher, of Minneapolis, MN. Dean was preceded in death by his brothers Jim and Tom and twin sister, Doris, of Kansas. He is survived by sister-in-law Phyllis, nephews David, Dean, Jack, Danny and Doug, and niece, Patricia, all of Kansas, and nephew, Gary, of San Diego. Dean attended Fort Hays State College, but that education was interrupted by World War II. In 1944, he enlisted in the Navy as a NAVCAD and earned his commission and cherished Wings of Gold in 1944. In his 26-year Naval career, Dean commanded two squadrons, spent his time at sea and ashore, and served his country with distinction. His squadrons were recognized for their safety records, and one, VA-126, won the Naval Weapons Meet in El Centro. Decorated for his combat service and a recipient of commendations and campaign medals, Dean was unassuming and private about his deeds and accomplishments, and remained a humble man to the very end. Dean retired from the Navy in 1968 and settled in San Diego. He returned to college at San Diego State University earning a Bachelor's and Master's Degree and a teaching credential. He taught vocational arts for a number of years then retired, again, to pursue his passion for golf. He was a student of the game building his own clubs and doing his best to study and truly love the game of golf. He played with his friends into his 80s, finally having to put aside his clubs as age and health issues made a day at Coronado or Admiral Baker more taxing. Along the way, he discovered and embraced the home computer. It also opened up the world of genealogy to him. Genealogy was an academic pursuit, and that pursuit led him to write three books about the Birdsong family. The books spanned the generations from the mid-1600s to the present. Dad's genealogy research was prized by many throughout the county, and he happily shared his work with others. In recognition of his work on the Birdsong lineage, Dean was inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was one of his proudest moments. He was immensely proud of his heritage and family. Genealogy was Dean's labor of love. Though he left Kansas in 1944, he never let the Kansas youngster get too far away from who he was. He was tempered by the Depression and World War II, and the man he became was passionate for education and learning and dedicated and proud of his family. As one of his sons, whenever I got too big for my britches and decided to measure myself against this man, I came away humbled by the comparison. We will miss him very much. Dean's ashes will be interred at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in a private family ceremony.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on May 28, 2012
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