Clifton B. Cates Jr.

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    - Doss Miller
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CATES CLIFTON B. CATES, JR. CAPTAIN USN (Ret.) Clifton B. Cates, Jr., Capt., USN (Ret.), passed away on Thursday, March 4, 2010. He was born in San Francisco on September 9, 1921, the older child of Jane McIlhenny Cates and Cpt. Clifton B. Cates, a marine officer who went on to command the 4th Marine Division and later become the Nineteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps. The younger Cates lived with his family in Shanghai, China in the mid-1930s (during the Japanese invasion), attended the New Mexico Military Academy from 1938-1939, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in June, 1942 as a member of the Class of 1943. He spent the entire war aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), where he was in charge of the number 2 main (14-inch gun) turret, seeing action in the Aleutians, the Mariana Islands, Saipan, Guam, and Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of World War II. After the war, now based in Newport, Rhode Island, he served as the executive officer of two destroyers and from 1956-1958 as the Commanding Officer of the USS Cassin Young (DD-793), a Fletcher-class destroyer. His final tour of duty before retirement in June, 1972 was as Inspector General of the Naval Ordnance Systems Command. From 1973 to 1989, he was Director of Chapter Affairs for The Retired Officers Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia, a second career he thoroughly enjoyed. In addition to being distinguished naval officer, Captain Cates was an excellent sailor, history scholar, opera lover, gracious host, and above all else, a top-notch grandfather. He was married to the former Phyllis Eleanor Stork of Philadelphia for 57 years until her death in 2002 from breast cancer. He moved to The Fairfax, a retirement community near Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in 2002, where he spent the last eight years of his life until his death from prostate cancer, living in contentment and happiness among former military officers and their spouses and, in particular, with his dear friend and companion Virginia Carter. Captain Cates is survived by his three children, Clifton III, Ellen and Nancy; four grandchildren, Clifton IV and Michael Cates, Therese Burgler and Christopher Beaucham; and one great-grandchild, Caden Beaucham. A memorial celebration will be held at The Fairfax from 4 to 7 pm on Saturday, April 3. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm. Arrangements are being handled by Old Town Funeral Choice of Alexandria, Virginia. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Capital Hospice, 2900 Telestar Court, Falls Church, VA 22042.Arrangements are being handled by Old Town Funeral Choice of Alexandria, Virginia. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Capital Hospice, 2900 Telestar Court, Falls Church, VA 22042.

Published in The Washington Post on Mar. 14, 2010
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