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Obituary (VA): William Jobse Sawtelle '49

Posted on 03/23/2018

William Jobse Sawtelle, 91, passed away on March 21, 2018. He was born on June 22, 1926 in Madison, WI to the late Rolfe and Mabel Ruth Sawtelle. Bill will always be loved and remembered by his: wife and best friend Karen; sisters Ronna Duckwitz and Sally Patti of Madison, WI; daughter Cherie Lower (Bob Lower) of Alloway, NJ and son Steve (Natalie Pien) of Leesburg, VA; grandchildren Lisa Pietrowski and Micah Warren (Stacey) of NJ, Renee of Montreal, Canada, and Elise of Blacksburg, VA; and his great grandchildren Mary Pietrowski and Jace Warren of NJ.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 and earned a Master of Nuclear Physics from M.I.T. in 1955. Bill enjoyed a successful twenty-two year career in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Commander. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, he taught academics at Apprentice Schools Norshipco and Newport News Shipbuilding.

Outside the classroom and in retirement, Bill was engaged in a great variety of activities. Bill travelled widely with his wife Karen. He enjoyed furniture woodworking projects and building many different types of clocks including grandfather clocks; he was a past member of National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. He also enjoyed the outdoors, regularly hunting and fishing in nature. Bill was an avid, gourmet chef, dabbled in photography, and planted many productive vegetable gardens.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 4:00 PM at Baker-Foster Funeral Home, 5685 Lee Farm Lane, Suffolk, VA 23435. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Suffolk Humane Society, 412 Kings Fork Rd., Suffolk, VA 23434. Condolences can be registered online at

Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 23, 2018