William E. Read

No. 17385  •  15 May 1927 - 4 Mar 2009

Died in Charlotte, NC
Interred at Forest Hill Cemetery in the Read plot in Morganton, NC

A journey that began on 15 May 1927 at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC, ended at Carolina’s Medical Center, also in Charlotte, on 4 Mar 2009.

William Edgar “Bill” Read was the son of the late Edgar Read and Virginia Clark Read. He graduated from Morganton High School in 1944, where he lettered in three sports—football, basketball and base­ball. Bill enlisted in the Army the day after graduation; his mother had to sign for him because of his age. In 1946, he received an appointment to both the Naval Academy and West Point. He chose West Point. He received an appointment from Senator Sam Ervin, also of Morganton. He graduated from West Point in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree, and in later years he re­ceived a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois and a busi­ness administration degree from Webster College in St. Louis, MO. He continued his education with the advanced management program at Harvard, Command & General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, and the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.

Shortly after graduation from West Point, the Korean War began, and 2LT Read received orders for the Far East. In 1952 he was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, VA. It was later that year that he met a young lady, Mary Ann Gregory of Miami, FL. It would be the beginning of a wonderful lifetime relationship. For their first date, Bill invited Mary Ann to the annual Army-Navy game. Navy won 7-0, but this did not dismay ei­ther of them. By the second date, Mary Ann knew and told her roommate that she had met the man she would marry. Later that year, on Halloween, Bill proposed to Mary Ann and three weeks later, after the Army-Navy game, they were married in Alexandria, VA. And by the way, this time Army beat Navy 7-0!

During his career, MG Read served in the Korean War and had three commands in the Vietnam War. Following his war service, he served as the assistant military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel; was the district engineer in Tulsa, OK; was the assistant chief of engineers in Washington, DC; and was president of the Mississippi River Commission in Vicksburg, MS. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star and the Air Medal.

Bill also served as the staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Operations and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC, and was the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command in St. Louis. During his 35 years of active duty, MG Read was stationed in nine different states and had four different overseas assign­ments, along with his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann, and their three daughters. His last duty assignment in the military was a Presidential appointment, with Congressional approval, as division engineer of the Lower Mississippi Valley division and president of the Lower Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association.

Upon his retirement from the Army, Bill and Mary Ann moved to Gulfport, MS, where he worked for Walk, Haydel and Associates out of New Orleans. In 2002, he retired again and moved to Morganton. Bill and Mary Ann had shared so many countless memories, and in Morganton they found their perfect place, which became their perfect memory. Like Ilsa and Rick, “They would always have Paris.’’ These words were the last spoken from Bill to his beloved Mary Ann.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Ann Gregory Read, of Morganton, NC; daugh­ters and their husbands: Mary Virginia “Ginger” and Gerard Thomas Hopkins of New Windsor, NY; Ann Kirby and Andrew H. Weber of Pipersville, PA; and Sarah Correll “Sallie” and Hunter Fordice, of Vicksburg, MS; grandsons; Gerard Thomas Hopkins, Jr. and his wife Dolores; William Read Hopkins; Stephen Michael Hopkins; Andrew Joseph Weber; Robert Read Weber and his wife Danielle; granddaughters: Hilary Ann Weber, Georgina Roxanne Weber, Lauren Virginia Fordice, Emily Louise Fordice, Helen Frances Fordice, and Sarah Hunter Fordice.

A donation was made in Dad’s name to the Academy. The funds purchased a perma­nent plaque, planned to be located in Thayer Hall, recognizing each semester’s Academy Pentathletes. An Academy Pentathlete is a cadet who has earned a 4.0 or higher (with no grade lower that an A-) in the prior se­mester. The grade requirements apply to all programs—academic, physical education, and military science courses, as well as the military development grade. The donation also includes a small endowment which will pay for the nameplates to update the plaque each semester. Our father was a brilliant man who excelled in the academic world, but always appreciated the values learned through participation in the military and physical programs as well.