BURGESS—John Walter “Nick” England of Burgess went to be with his heavenly father on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Nick was a well known neighbor of the Northern Neck, spending his 40 years since retirement at his home on the Great Wicomico River.
Nick was raised in Arlington and in Maryland on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, where he grew to love the water. Following graduation from high school in Arlington, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was a proud Navy Seabee serving his country during World War II, most of which was spent in Pearl Harbor after the attack. His stories about ships in emergency repair were intriguing.
After the war, he married Virginia “Ginny” Moseley of McGehee, Ark., at Foundry Methodist Church in Washington, D..C, and he took a job with the Western Electric Company in the fast growing telephone industry. They moved to Calvert County, Md., near the Chesapeake, where they raised three sons, John, Bill and Tom.
He enjoyed a 37-year career with Western Electric during which time he supervised the installation of many of the Bell Telephone System switching offices in the DC/VA/WVA region. He was a life member of the Bell System Telephone Pioneers.
Sailing was part of Nick’s life from his early days on the Chesapeake Bay. He taught his three sons to sail on a classic Skipjack, and in retirement he took up boat building. In 1984, his eldest son John, an accomplished wooden boat builder, helped Nick build a 33’ ketch, the L. Francis Herreshoff designed ‘Araminta’ in his workshop in Burgess.
It was a fine example of the father having taught the son how to use his hands, and the son reciprocating to teach the father how to build a beautiful sailing craft. He named the boat “Virginia” after his wife. He raced the Virginia several times in the Turkey Shoot Regatta, a new sailboat race on the Rappahannock River; he won the first two years of the race and in honor of that feat, the race prize was named the Virginia Spirit cup.
Nick continued sailing on the Chesapeake Bay as long as he was able in smaller boats he had built. A memorable boating event on the Great Wicomico was the Friday afternoon racing of the fleet of Nutshell prams that were built in his shop by him and his friends. Reputed to be the largest fleet of Nutshells in the country; an article in Chesapeake Bay Magazine dubbed them “Nick’s Nutty Navy.” The races were held in front of his Burgess home on the Great Wicomico, followed by lengthy post-race evaluations, protests and laughs.
Nick loved the outdoors, spending many vacations with family camping and hiking in the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. He taught his sons a deep love of the outdoors including a fascination for great trees. He had an adventurous spirit and traveling these United States was a source of great interest for him. Over the years he visited all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and most of the national parks.
Among other things Nick was a Scoutmaster, lover of big band music, active member of the local Lions Club and Great Wicomico Cruising Club, a dedicated Orioles fan, an accomplished carpenter (building two of his own homes)…a vast reservoir of know-how and can-do with a witty remark at just the right moment.
Virginia died of cancer in 1993 and Nick experienced a lonely period…until he met the love of his “later life,” Claudine. In December, 2002, when Nick was 83, they were married in her hometown of Mt Vernon, Ill. Claudine has been the defining blessing for Nick over the past 14 years with a deep love and companionship for one another.
Nick is survived by his wife, Claudine; his one sister, Barbara England Kehoe of Denver, Colo.; three sons, John Walter III, William Austin and Thomas Riggs; six grandchildren, Suzanne England, Kyler England Furch, Laura England Madritch, Justin England, Andrea England Kramer, Hope England and Grace England; five great-grandchildren; and three step-children, Diane Born, Larry Born and Cindy Evers.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 1, at Wicomico Parish Church, Wicomico Church. Interment will follow at Roseland Cemetery, Reedville. Family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, at Currie Funeral Home, Kilmarnock.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Heart Association, P. O. Box 5216, Glen Allen, VA 23060; or to Wicomico Parish Church (Episcopal) at PO Box 70, Wicomico Church, VA 22579.