Capt. John VestPioneering aviatorRetired Navy Capt. John...


January 09, 1993

Capt. John Vest

Pioneering aviator

Retired Navy Capt. John P. W. Vest, a pioneering naval aviator who commanded ships in dangerous waters during World War II and also helped design early helicopters, died Sunday after a series of strokes. He was 91 and lived in Centreville.

A native of Washington, Captain Vest was reared in Baltimore and Queen Anne's County.

He attended the Boys' Latin School in Baltimore before becoming a member of the first graduating class of the Gunston School in Centreville.

A 1922 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he was designated an aviator in 1926. He flew planes from the USS Langley, the nation's first carrier, in the first aerial mapping of the Aleutian Islands in the early 1930s and in early naval helicopter operations.

During World War II, he commanded the escort carrier USS Croatan and its task group, which was credited with sinking four German submarines while on Atlantic convoy duty. He also had served on the staff of the chief of naval operations and later was director of naval air training, captain of the carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt and governor of the Marshall Islands Trust territory.

After his retirement, he worked closely with Igor Sikorski, pioneer developer of helicopters, as chief of engineering at the Stratford Conn., aircraft company started by Mr. Sikorski. After retiring again, Captain Vest returned full time to the home he maintained in Centreville.

A trustee emeritus of the Gunston School, he also was a former president of the Queen Anne's Conservation Association. He also was a member of the Army and Navy Club in Washington and a former president of the American Helicopter Society.

His wife, the former Frances Howell Neville, died in 1984.

Services for Captain Vest were scheduled for 11 a.m. today at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Centreville.

He is survived by two sons, retired Marine Corps Col. Wendell N. Vest of Norfolk, Va., and George G. Vest of New Canaan, Conn.; a daughter, Joan Withington of Centreville; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Dr. Richard France


Dr. Richard France, a native of Baltimore and a cardiologist who had practiced here, died Sunday of cancer at his home in Williamsburg, Va.

Dr. France, who was 87, moved to Williamsburg six years ago from Nashville, Tenn., where he retired in 1969 as chief of cardiology at the Veterans Hospital. He also had been chief of the medical service since joining the staff there in 1946.

He also was a professor emeritus of medicine at Vanderbilt University.

In late 1968, he worked as a volunteer in a civilian hospital in Da Nang, Vietnam, and was cited for the work by the American Medical Association.

Born in Baltimore, he was a graduate of the Gilman School and of Princeton University and in 1930 received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

He served an internship and residency at Union Memorial Hospital and also held posts at the Johns Hopkins and the old City Hospitals while maintaining a private practice in internal medicine and cardiology in Baltimore.

In 1940, he joined the Navy Medical Corps and served in the Pacific, in the family clinic at the Naval Academy and as assistant chief of medicine at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda until he left active duty for the Veterans Hospital in Nashville. He retired from the Naval Reserve as a captain in 1965.

A member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha honorary societies and a fellow of the American College of Physicians, he was also a member of several professional societies and the author of about 25 published professional papers.

A graveside service was to be conducted at 2 p.m. today at Druid Ridge Cemetery, Park Heights and Old Court Roads in Pikesville. Dr. France was a Presbyterian elder, and church services were conducted for him Thursday in Williamsburg.

He is survived by his wife, the former Louisa Finney; a daughter, Louisa Lee France of Orient, N.Y.; and a son, Joseph France of Paderborn, Germany.

Elizabeth M. Mitchell

College board member

A memorial service for Elizabeth Myers Mitchell was scheduled for 11 a.m. today -- her 86th birthday -- in the Great Hall of St. John's College in Annapolis, where she had been a board member.

Mrs. Mitchell, for whom a campus art gallery was named when it opened in 1989, died Nov. 29 at the Anne Arundel Medical Center of complications of heart problems.

Active in the Annapolis community since the late 1940s, she had worked with Historic Annapolis in the restoration of the Paca House.

Her homes near Annapolis, first at Sharps Point on Whitehall Creek and in recent times at Holly Beach Farm on Meredith Creek, were often opened to tours.

She was a supporter of the Anne Arundel Medical Center and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was a member of the Four Rivers Garden Club and Mount Vernon Club.

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