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Naval officer Nimitz, wife take lives

SHARE Naval officer Nimitz, wife take lives

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Rear Adm. Chester W. Nimitz Jr., a decorated World War II submarine veteran and only son of Navy Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, died with his wife, Joan Labern Nimitz. He was 86 and she was 89.

The couple faced deteriorating health and chose to take their own lives, a day after a New Year's Day celebration with their family, said their daughter, Betsy Van Dorn.

"This was not unexpected," she said. "They had lived their whole life together and wanted to die together."

The two had married in 1938.

Nimitz followed his father to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and the Navy, before moving on to a career with high technology companies.

After graduating from Annapolis in 1936, he served for three years on the cruiser Indianapolis before taking command of two submarines and a submarine division, according to a statement from his family.

His father commanded U.S. forces in the Pacific during World War II.

Nimitz retired in 1957 with the rank of captain and was promoted on the retired list by virtue of his combat decorations, which included the Navy Cross, three Silver Stars and the Bronze Star.

He worked for four years at Texas Instruments before joining the Perkin-Elmer Corp., in Norwalk, Conn. in 1961 and rising to become chief executive officer. He retired in 1980.

They are survived by three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Joan Nimitz also is survived by a sister, and Chester Nimitz is survived by three sisters.