Alyn Fraser Fife
Newport News - Alyn Fraser Fife, 94, passed away Friday, March 11, surrounded by his family and friends.
Born in 1921 as the only child to Robert Fife and Ethel Lamb Fife in Elizabeth City County, present-day Newport News, Virginia, he was a first-generation Scottish-English American. He graduated from Newport News High School and the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School, then joined the US Merchant Marine in 1944, serving his country until 1948.
In World War II, he dodged enemy fire in the Mediterranean while transporting supplies, troops, and prisoners of war. At the age of 26, as the world was recovering from World War II, he earned his Chief Engineer's License and was deployed to Australia and China. He was a lifelong patriot of the United States.
After the War, he worked for the American Bureau of Shipping and the United States Salvage Association. He was a Marine Surveyor who began his career in 1948-and worked for over 66 years-at any hour of the day or night for ships locally or around the world. He surveyed everything from tugboats to ocean liners, from rowboats to the Queen Elizabeth II. Throughout his professional life, Alyn was committed to a code of competence and personal responsibility.
As an independent marine surveyor, he would consult, design, and solve problems to resolution even if he had to build parts himself. His meticulously crafted opinions garnered respect on the dock, on the water, and in the courtroom. Alyn was a career fighter in court for safety at sea and did not tolerate owners and organizations that cut corners or sacrificed the safety of seamen.
His expertise was called on in Vietnam. Throughout his international work travels, he respected all people, from all walks of life and the far-flung corners of the globe through their mutual calling to the sea, which knows no language or boundaries.
Alyn took an active role in the international maritime community, including leadership positions in the Propeller Club. But the practicalities of the present weren't his only care. Maritime history and the preservation of those memories-the acquisition of maritime artifacts and their continued curation-was important. He helped acquire collections for the Mariners' Museum, including much of the museum's SS United States collection.
Indeed the marine industry has lost a treasure-trove of knowledge and experience. But both on the job as well as at home, Alyn was guided by his strong sense of humor and unpretentious presence.
Alyn is predeceased by his wife Effie Hayes and son-in-law Bruce E. Melchor III, and survived by his daughters Elizabeth Ann Fife (fiancé M. Wayne Price) and Roberta Alynne Fife (R. Scott Davis), grandchildren Douglas Alyn Melchior, Margaret Elizabeth Melchor, Stephen Fraser Davis, Claire Allerton Davis, and nephews James Christopher and Alyn Christopher.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19th, at Peninsula Funeral Home in Newport News, followed by a reception.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Mariners' Museum or Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.