Alyn Fraser Fife
1921 - 2016
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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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Virginian-Pilot on Mar. 13, 2016.
Memorial service
02:00 PM
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20 entries
March 8, 2020
Alyn's mother Ethyl was my godmother, who was like a grandmother to me. i just sent a letter that she had written to my folks, Anna and William Gracey, in 1937 when they were married. True to form, and with her ever-present sense of humor, she spoke of the necessity of keeping a close eye on the pan when cooking rice, since the grains of rice were "quite conceited, and had a habit of puffing themselves up while cooking". this letter was sent to my brother Chris's grandchildren in Alaska, along with some china dolls from the same era and source.
The Fife legacy continues!! Nell Gracey Jones
nell jones
December 30, 2016
Elizabeth Ann and Roberta: I have just found out about your dad's passing last March. We were out of town or else we certainly would have been present.
I was one of the many godchildren of Ethyl Fife and remember many cups of English tea at her home on Sycamore Ave. on a Sunday afternoon. Alyn and Effie were married and Elizabeth Ann was the recipient of many handmade Scottish kilts, etc.
My uncle was Martin Gracey and my dad, William Gracey. They both thought the world of the Fife family.
I hope that you still have the handwritten book of recipes that Ethyl Fife made for me many years ago.
thinking of you all with love
Nell Gracey Jones
December 14, 2016
Roberta I am so very saddened to have just learned your father passed away. My Uncle, Julian Carr "Bud" McLean, and Alyn were best of friends for many years.

You may remember meeting me at the home of Francis McLean, my Aunt. Please send my condolences to all the Fife family.

Your father was one of a kind. A special person and I enjoyed working with him when we would meet up at Newport News Marine Terminal.

Kay Davis Moore
April 12, 2016
Roberta so sorry to hear of your dad's passing. I remember how fondly you spoke of him. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.
Teresa Hayden Rains
April 12, 2016
I just found out about Alyn's death and am saddened. Saddened for your family and for the fact the Alyn was the last link with my parents and those past days.

I still have the photos taken when we met for dinner in Norfolk in July, now almost four years ago. I'm so glad that it worked out then and was hoping to see him again later this years when I'm scheduled to be in Norfolk.

The world lost a good man and the U.S. marine industry a legend.
Norm Laskay
March 27, 2016

Growing up with you and your family has always felt like a gift. It was a house I always felt at home in, one of tremendous love, humor, generosity and intelligence, from 2nd grade on up. Your Dad was such an accomplished giant in his field and yet he was just Roberta's and Liz' Dad all the time, always laid back, always funny, a joy.

Take care of yourself. Its very tough. Love, "Dickinson"
Susan Guillotte
March 19, 2016
Bertie and family, I am so sorry to her of your Dad's passing. He was well lived and well loved. Love, Meriwether
March 19, 2016
The Hayes Family have so many Memories of Mr. Fife. We recall the Parade given to Mom and Dad one afternoon in Summer. Mr. Fife had full Scottish outfit on from the shoes and socks all the way up to the hat and was asked,"Alyn what are You doing? You both were sitting looking like waiting for a Parade. Here I am", smiling so big. These are the Memories we choose to Remember. Happy Times shared by Families so close. We Love All of You, sad that Mr. Fife has ascended to Heaven yet know Your Beloved Mother was waiting quietly...
Howard & Sue Hayes
March 19, 2016
Roberta, Please accept my most sincere condolences on the loss of your father. Having been through this not to long ago, I can empathize with the range of emotions that you are experiencing right now. Your father led a rich and varied life, and gave us all an outstanding daughter. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.
Danny Williams
March 16, 2016
Roberta, Scott, and family,

Ron and I didn't know Roberta's father, of course, except through the wonderfully interesting stories that Scott would share from time to time. Mr. Fife was obviously quite an accomplished man - and quite the character, as well, it seems. It's obvious also that he touched the lives of many, many people, making untold lasting contributions in such valuable ways. Reading through his obituary takes us vividly back in time to allow us to see glimpses into the passions of his life. Beautifully written - a tribute to the very special man he was - so loved.

Our sympathies ... Our prayers ...
Ron and Diane Gallagher
March 16, 2016
I am sure my father Jim Sampselle was at the front of the line to welcome Alyn home. They will have so much to catch up on. What an honor it was to have known Alyn as I was growing up. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Take care,
Lynn Sampselle Parlett
March 16, 2016
Roberta, Liz and families, our deepest sympathy in the loss of your wonderful father. What a generous life-loving guy! You are all in our thoughts and prayers
Toni, Tom, Sean, Mary Wainwright
March 14, 2016
Liz and Roberta,

So sorry to hear about your dad's passing. I always remember meeting him on a flight back from DC to NN and our talking all the way back. I am hoping to get over to the memorial on Saturday. Liz please give me a call if you need anything.

Charlene Carney
March 14, 2016
Bertie, so very and hugs to you.
John Ward
March 13, 2016
Susan and Stuart Hughes
March 13, 2016
Thad and I were so very sorry to hear about your Dad's passing. I'm so glad I had a chance to know him. He will keep them laughing up above. All our love to you, Scott, Claire, and Stephen.
Totty Shelly
March 13, 2016
My condolences to the family. He was quite a character and well like in the maritime world. There was never a dull moment around Alyn. I pray for you peace. He will be missed.
John Powers
March 13, 2016
How fortunate you were to have a dad that lived to see YOUR senior years! I know he meant the world to you, Liz...I remember hearing you speak of him when we were in college. My thoughts are with you and your family. My heart hurts for you.
Jennifer Hensley Landry
March 13, 2016
Bertie, I'm so sorry for your loss! Your Dad was a very special man. Sending hugs and love to you and your family!
Mary Nolan
March 13, 2016
He certainly contributed to the maritime world in his private and business life. He will be sorely missed in both. He was such a neat crusty ole guy.
Susan Mathews
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