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Obituary (TN): John Jacob Wannamaker '43

Posted on 09/26/2018

John Jacob Wannamaker  (Born in St. Matthews, SC on December 31, 1919, Departed on September 11, 2018 and resided in Nashville, TN)

Born New Year's Eve, 1919, John was the youngest of four children of Ida B. and William P. Wannamaker of Saint Matthews, SC. He was also a great grandson of the Reverend John Jacob Wannamaker, an early settler of South Carolina.

Early life was primarily spent in Saint Matthews SC. Upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942, John was soon attached to the historic battleship, USS Texas. He commanded the (then massive) 15-inch guns of Turret III that provided bombardment support for the following Invasions: North Africa (1942); Battle for the South of France, plus the Normandy D-Day (Omaha Beach) invasion, both in 1944; and Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions in 1945.

During the war, John married the love of his life, Merle W. Hudson, of Wilson, NC. They enjoyed 63 years of marriage until Merle's passing, September 26, 2007.

In August, 1945, John began flight training in Dallas, finishing in Pensacola, where daughter Johanna was born in 1946. That October, as a Naval Aviator, he was assigned duty at an anti-submarine squadron, flying the Grummon "Avenger (TBM)," a carrier-based torpedo bomber, off such carriers as the USS Saipan, and the USS Coral Sea.

From 1948-1950, John was Administrative Officer of the Atlantic Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit, Norfolk, VA, where daughter Marilyn was born in 1948. From 1950-52, he was stationed at the University of SC (Columbia) NROTC, where John taught Navigation and U.S. Naval History.

After this, he became Executive Officer of the USS Wren, a destroyer homeported in Norfolk, VA. Following that, John was ordered to Commander Training Command, Atlantic Fleet (COMTRALANT), inspecting radar training and fleet training facilities at Newport RI, Key West, FL, and Guantanamo, Cuba.

He next saw duty in London, England, with the Commander North Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM) staff, where he was involved in the logistics of NATO facilities in European and Mediterranean areas. John's last duty was Commanding Officer, Naval Reserve Training Center, Nashville, TN, retiring in June, 1962.

John next enjoyed a long career as a Vice President & Trust Officer, Commerce Union Bank (Bank of America), Nashville. In 1993, after 30 years with the bank, John retired, and he and Merle traveled extensively for their English antiques business, Trapps Lane Antiques. Even into his late 80s, John enjoyed displaying his antiques at the Annual Murfreesboro Antiques Show.

John was a dedicated member of Hillwood Presbyterian Church, serving as both Elder and Finance Director for many years. He had also been a member of Richland Country Club as well as a longtime member of Kiwanis International.

Left to mourn his passing is their daughter Johanna Rothberg and her husband Richard, and their daughter Marilyn Leathers and her husband Bart; grandchildren Rebecca Causey,(Mike), Laura Little (Adam), and Michael Trautman (Emily), as well as great-grandchildren: Emma, Ella, and Parker Causey, Hudson and Wyatt Trautman.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at Hillwood Presbyterian Church, 6220 Hickory Valley Rd, Nashville, on Monday, October 1, 2018, at Noon, with visitation from 10:00 a.m. - Noon.

The family would like to extend its many thanks and deepest appreciation to Rosie Thompson, Renate Von Lisson, Emma Biggs, Betty Holt, Wudnesh Digafe, Yolanda Thomas, Latoya Hicks, and Maegan Bowers for their exemplary service and tireless care of John these last two years.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of John may be made to: Hillwood Presbyterian Church, 6220 Hickory Valley Rd, 37205, Fannie Battle Day Home, 108 Chapel Ave, 37206, and the Nashville Rescue Mission, 616 Seventh Ave South, 37203.

Published in Tennessean from Sept. 12 to Sept. 30, 2018