An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

My dad was not a famous man, but he was a great man — at least in my eyes. He served his country in the military. He rose from humble beginnings to a high-level position in the corporate world. He was active in the community, helping those less fortunate than him. He loved his family, and his family loved him. The greatness of America lies not in its presidents, celebrities and billionaires, but in its ability to produce millions of men (and women) like my dad who work diligently, pay taxes, raise their families, practice their faith, give to the community and leave the world a better place. His death a week ago at the age of 90 warranted no news articles or paeans in the media. To a nation that did not know him, he was invisible. But the country is diminished by his passing. — JABHere follows the obituary that appeared in the Virginian-Pilot:

Norfolk – CMDR James Alton Bacon, USN, Ret., 90, died peacefully on April 16, 2017, in a local hospital. A native of Laurel, Del., he was the son of the late H. Alton and Evelyn Hastings Bacon.

A 1945 graduate of St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Del., he was drafted into the U.S. Army in the closing months of World War II. After the war, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with the class of 1951. He served at sea on five submarines, culminating with his command of the U.S.S. Tench SS 417. Subsequent duty included two tours on COMSUBLANT staff and other submarine-related billets.

Commander Bacon received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University, and a diploma in Naval Warfare from the U.S. Naval War College. He retired from the Navy after serving as submarine consultant at the Center for Naval Analysis. Following his naval career, he joined Sovran Financial Corporation (Bank of America) and retired in 1990 as Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Planning.

In retirement he led a full, active life. An Episcopalian, he was an active member of the Church of the Good Shepherd and served as a member of its vestry. He was a member also of the Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Retired Officers Association, served on the Finance Committee of the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and joined the board of directors of Lee’s Friends. For many years, he volunteered his time delivering meals to the elderly and driving cancer patients to their medical appointments.

In his later years, he was an avid reader of Tom Clancy thrillers, an indefatigable fan of Navy football, and all things lacrosse. He enjoyed the occasional glass of white wine and had a weakness for chocolate Oreo cookies.

Throughout his life, he conducted himself as a gentleman: with kindness, courtesy and modesty. He upheld the ideals of honor and integrity, and served as an exemplar to his family and to all who knew him.

He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Marguerite Overbey Bacon and his daughter, Mary A. Bacon and her husband John Crowder of Richmond, Va.; his son James Alton Bacon, Jr. and his wife Laura of Richmond, Va.; and his son Jesse Cabell Bacon and his wife Rives of Berryville, Va.; and eight grandchildren.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


10 responses to “An Extraordinary Ordinary Man”

  1. I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I know it this not a consolation, but he appears to have lived a very full, purposeful, and productive life.

  2. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Lord, have mercy! My condolences to you, Jim, and your family.



  3. djrippert Avatar

    My condolences to you and your family. Your father’s path is remarkably similar to my father’s path. He was also a retired US Navy Commander who went on to a career in business. From your description and the Virginia Pilot obituary, your Dad was the “salt of the Earth” kind of American that makes this country great.

  4. Sorry Jim to hear we lost your Dad and another member of the Greatest Generation.

  5. LocalGovGuy Avatar

    My condolences on the loss of your father.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    It’s tough saying goodbye to Dads (and Moms) … with good reason… sorry you had to say goodbye to yours but he’ll live on in your heart forever.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I am so sorry. I met your Dad on several occasions and was impressed by his cordiality and wit.

  8. kvdavis2 Avatar

    Jim, your dad must have been SO PROUD of you! Thank you for sharing this profile of a (another?) great American.

  9. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Today’s world needs far more men and fathers like your Dad. What a positive difference such men with his qualities make for so many.

  10. The “Greatest Generation” fought multiple wars and rebuilt the ravages of those wars and the Depression. They believed American good fortune came with multiple obligations: the importance of American economic and moral leadership throughout the world, giving time and resources freely to charity and church and community, public duty, service to Country. They were unafraid to “call it like it is.” Your father was one of them, surely.

Leave a Reply