William Thomas Walsh (May 1926 – July 2023)

William Thomas Walsh (May 1926 – July 2023)

William Thomas Walsh, also known as Spud, passed away on 31 July 2023 at the age of 97 in Fillmore, CA. He was born on 27 May 1926 in Fillmore, CA to Thomas Henry Walsh and Ruth Jorgenson.

He was married to Annette Marie Garrison on 21 May 1950, and she passed away on 29 Sep 1956. They had 3 children, Toni, Kathleen, and Michael. On 6 May 1961 he married Joan Marie Manheim and unfortunately, she passed away on 1 Oct 2019.

Spud quit Fillmore High School at the end of his Junior year and enlisted into the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday which was 27 May 1944 and served until 27 May 1947. During his time in the Navy, he completed 6 weeks of Basic Training at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. After completion he was assigned to the USS Whitley (AKA-91) stationed in Oakland, CA. During his entire time in the Navy, he was attached to the USS Whitley which sailed towards Iwo Jima. During this cruise the USS Whitley arrived offshore at dawn on 19 February 1945 and became involved in fourth assault wave on the island and five days later 23 February 1945 they witnessed the raising of the American flag from the deck of the Whitney. Seaman First Class Walsh was assigned as a crewman to one of the LCM Boats and went ashore on Iwo Jima. Each time he went ashore it was to recruit Marines to help retrieve needed equipment stuck in the black volcanic sand beach. The USS Whitney remained offshore for eight days and her only brush with combat came on the night of February 23rd and 24th when her anti-aircraft battery briefly and inconclusively engaged two Japanese aircraft. After Iwo Jima Spud remained a crewman but held other collateral jobs aboard as the ship’s projectionist for the many movies shown in the mess hall aboard ship to entertain the sailors while sea. He was also assigned as the ships Postmaster the job that he enjoyed the most. After leaving Iwo Jima on 27 February 1945 the USS Whitley joined a convey bound via the New Hebrids for the Guadalcanal and stopped at Espiritu Santo 15 March for the embarking of the Royal New Zealand Air Force for transportation to Guadalcanal. After which they exchanged the New Zealanders for a group of Hawaii-bound Marines. The USS Whitney arrived back to Oahu on 16 April 1945 during this period the USS Whitney personnel received the Bronze Star, and the ship received a Battle Star for action at Iwo Jima.

After his discharged from the Navy, he returned to Fillmore to work with his father who owned Tom Walsh Auto Repair. They did a bit of everything from auto repair, repair of radiators and rebuilt batteries. Eventually he took over the business and renamed it Fillmore Auto Electric which he worked for over forty years then closed the business in 1989 and went to work with Dwayne Steel repairing orchard wind machines unit the business closed and then worked for J.E. Kirby at Barnett Trucking until September 1995 when he fell off a trailer at the age of 69 and shattered his left heel at 3 places after 2 years of rehabilitation he officially retired at the age of 71.

As a young man in 1957 and 1958 Spud raced a 1932 Ford Victoria 2 door sedan on an oval dirt track in Carpenteria, CA. The track closed in 1959 but not before Spud was able to win one race at the left turn only banked dirt track which he still had the trophy proudly displayed in his den. In the 1970s Spud was the navigator for Don Barlow in a 1972 Ford Bronco on the grueling Baja 500 mile off road race and he also did some other racing with Saugus Raceway.

He is survived by his sister, Marjorie Bega (Frank) of Rathdrum, Idaho and his three children Toni Techau (Richard) of Fillmore, California, Kathleen (Gordon) Carpenter of Sandy, Utah and Michael Walsh (Jamie) of Las Vegas, Nevada, Spud’s legacy lives on through the lives of his loved ones. He was a cherished grandfather to Rebecca Dunehew, David Walsh, Kevin Hardwick, Katherine Nelson, Amberly Thorson and Mariah Volpe. Additionally, Spud was the proud great-grandfather of 17 great-grandchildren.

Spud’s warm heart, infectious smile, and unwavering love for his family will be deeply missed. His memory will forever be engraved in the hearts and souls of those who had the privilege of knowing him. May he rest in eternal peace, knowing his duty to his country and his loved ones was fulfilled with honor and devotion.