Captain William Ferguson Story, USN (Retired), age 82, died on Monday, May 8, 2023, a day before his eighty-third birthday. He was preceded in death by his parents, Julian Waldo Story and Elizabeth Ferguson Story, and his three brothers, Julian Russell, James Sebastian, and Joseph. He was a direct descendant of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story.
Captain Story was born in Philadelphia and spent his youth in rural northern New Jersey. From 1954 to 1958 he attended Harrow School in England, “the only American among 600 brutal Englishmen.” He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and graduated in 1962. He married his lifelong friend, Martha van Beuren, in 1963.
Captain Story had a distinguished Naval career. Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy, he reported to USS BOSTON (CAG-1) as Weapons and Deck Officer. He then attended the Naval Destroyer School in Newport, Rhode Island, and then reported to USS BARRY (DD-933) where he served as Weapons Officer when the ship deployed to Viet Nam from the East Coast. Upon completion of duty in BARRY Captain Story reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, graduating in 1968 with a Master’s Degree in Operations Research. His next assignment was at the Center for Naval Analyses in Washington, D.C., for a short tour as an Analyst and Study Director.
In January 1970 Captain Story took command of USS MONMOUTH COUNTY (LST-1032). At age 29 he was just about the age of the ship, and he enjoyed their New Jersey connection. This was his second tour in Viet Nam. Following command of the USS MONMOUTH COUNTY he reported to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. Captain Story’s next assignment was the Commissioning Executive Officer of USS AYLWIN (DE-1081) where he served until July 1973. Between 1973 and 1977 Captain Story had several Pentagon assignments in the Offices of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy.
In July 1977 Captain Story took command of USS BOWEN (FF-1079) in Charleston, South Carolina. He was particularly happy in this assignment and the ship did very well deploying to the Mediterranean and to South America. Under his leadership, BOWEN earned the Battle Efficient “E.” After two more assignments in the Pentagon and attending the National War College in 1984, by then a Captain, he took command of Destroyer Squadron 36 homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. The Squadron deployed to South America, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. It was a busy, challenging, and fun assignment. Captain Story then became Chief of Staff of Aircraft Carrier Group 2 again deploying to the Mediterranean. He was then assigned Commanding Officer of the Tactical Training Group Atlantic. Captain Story completed his 30-year career serving as Chief of Staff of the Atlantic Fleet Training Command.
Captain Story was awarded two Legions of Merit, Bronze Star (with Combat V), two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals (with Combat V), Expert Pistol Shot Medal and multiple other medals and ribbons.
Captain Story retired from the Navy in June 1992 and moved to wonderful Holly Cove in beautiful Mathews County, Virginia. He began retirement by sailing small boats twice across the Atlantic: first from the Canary Islands to Recife, Brazil, and second “just to prove that I could do it again” from Newport, Rhode Island to Kinsale, Ireland.
He also cruised on both the East and West Coasts of North America. His favorite of all was cruising with Martha on the Chesapeake in their beloved FABULA.
Captain Story was several times Commodore of the Mathews Yacht Club, and was elected an Honorary Member of the Club in 2011. He was a longtime member of Retired Officers of Mathews County Association, the Army and Navy Club, and of the New York Yacht Club. He also served locally on many civic boards and study groups.
For his entire life Captain Story lived by his personal motto, “No job too difficult, no task too onerous.” He had a special knack and love for talking and listening to people from all places and all backgrounds. He was a fine mentor to young people. He made a difference.
Captain Story is survived by his wife of 59 years, Martha van Beuren Story; by his two daughters, Jessica Story of Red Deer County, Alberta, Canada, and Alexandra Story Scarlett of Saxton’s River, Vermont, and Mingo, West Virginia, and by his grandchildren, William Story Scarlett and Sarah Jane Scarlett. He is also survived by his sister, Sarah Benson (William), and several nieces and nephews.
On Thursday, May 18, the family will receive visitors from 4 to 6 p.m. at home at Holly Cove, 290 Holly Cove Lane in Hudgins. A celebration of Captain Story’s life will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at Christ Church, Kingston Parish, Mathews, Virginia.
Donations may be made to a charity of your choice or to the Friends of Mathews Memorial Library (P.O. Box 980, Mathews, Va. 23109).