In Remembrance: Theodore W. Libbey ’45W Died on February 27 2014

Theodore Webster Libbey Sr. died February 27, 2014, following complications from spinal surgery undergone in 2013. A native Washingtonian and a resident of Chevy Chase for more than 40 years, he had a distinguished career with the Bell system where his many responsibilities included publishing the Yellow Pages.  He retired in 1985 as assistant vice president, marketing, of Bell Atlantic.  

He grew up during the Great Depression after his family struggled to cope with the death of his father in 1930.  He graduated from Holderness School in New Hampshire in the spring of 1942.  He matriculated at Yale University that summer at the age of 16 and immediately enlisted in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. At that time Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band was on campus and provided daily marching music, which was a memory he always treasured.

He marked his 17th birthday as an apprentice seaman aboard the USS Ready,  escorting a convoy from New York to Guantanamo.  The very next day he saw action for the first time, dropping depth charges on a German U-boat. 

He graduated with the Yale class of 1945W (War) and received his commission as  an ensign in October 1944, making him the youngest commissioned officer in the Navy during world War II.  He served aboard the USS Lake Champlain (CV39), which during the summer of 1945 was ordered to prepare for the invasion of Japan.

However, before that could happen the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought an end to the war in the Pacific. The Lake Champlain was then quickly refitted to “Magic Carpet” duty to return GIs from Europe.  On a return crossing from Italy his carrier set a transatlantic speed record that stood for seven years.

Following his discharge from the Navy, Mr. Libbey joined the C&P Telephone Company, where he began a rapid rise (interrupted by 20 months serving in  naval intelligence during the Korean War) through the managerial ranks.  His career included positions in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Richmond, Virginia, and New York.   During this time he received postgraduate schooling at Williams College, Oberlin, and Dartmouth and was asked to serve as adjunct professor at Dartmouth as well. He remained with the Bell System for 39 years, before retiring in 1985.

Mr Libbey was a resident of Kenwood, Maryland, where he served on the board of the Kenwood Citizens Association for many years and as its president in 1992–93. He remained very involved and active in Kenwood  and took part in publishing the History of Kenwood.

He also was active in Yale alumni affairs, representing the Class of 1945W, and participated in the development of the Yale music library.  His interests also included supporting Indian Mountain School in New York and Suburban Hospital in Montgomery County. 

He is survived by Barbara Ann Culley Libbey, his wife of 68 years, and by three sons: Theodore W. Libbey Jr. ’73 of Rockville, Maryland; Scott Alexander Libbey ’75 of Chevy Chase, Maryland; and Chase Cunningham Libbey of  Alexandria, Virginia. 

—Submitted by the family.

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