Frederick Leif Eareckson

[ Age 83 ] Navy captain, naval architect enjoyed sailing on the bay.

December 06, 2007

Frederick Leif Eareckson, a retired Navy captain, naval architect and Chesapeake Bay sailing enthusiast, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Nov. 29 at Ginger Cove Health Care Center. The Annapolis resident was 83.

Known as Leif, he was born in Baltimore and was a descendant of Swedish settler Johan Ericksson, who arrived on Kent Island in 1652.

Captain Eareckson was raised on Cloverhill Road in Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood and was a 1941 Polytechnic Institute graduate. As a young man, he adjusted magnetic compasses on ships leaving Baltimore during World War II.

He received his officer's commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and earned a degree in naval architecture at the University of Michigan in 1948. He served on destroyers, initially in the Mediterranean. During the Korean War, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguished Device as main battery officer aboard the USS James C. Owens.

In 1956, he earned a master's degree in naval architecture from the Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y. Family members said that after attending submarine school, he was assigned to the USS Clamagore and participated in an early Cold War surveillance patrol of a Soviet naval base in Murmansk.

He was a ship superintendent at the Charleston, S.C., Naval Shipyard and completed tours at the Supervisor of Shipbuilding and Commander Submarine Force Atlantic in Groton, Conn., and at the Bureau of Ships in Washington, D.C. He helped design, construct and deploy nuclear ballistic missile submarines.

According to his biography, he reported to the Norfolk, Va., Naval Shipyard as planning officer in 1969 and headed the Ship Design Department at the Naval Ship Engineering Center in Hyattsville. He retired from the Navy in 1975.

Captain Eareckson later worked as an engineering project manager for M. Rosenblatt & Son in Crystal City, Va.

He helped organize several Chesapeake Sailing Yacht Symposia and was once a chairman.

He was active in many historical, military and technical organizations.

Family members said his love of the Chesapeake Bay lasted throughout his life. He built his first sailboat as a teenager and owned and raced a Hampton 18 and later a Tartan 27.

He chaired the membership committee of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association for over 20 years and remained a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club for 63 years.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 19 at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Church Circle in Annapolis, where he was a former vestry member and worked on the restoration of the parish house.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Jean Lee Van Leeuwen; two sons, Frederick Leif Eareckson III of Millersville and Peter Dudley Eareckson of Reston, Va.; a daughter, Lee Anne Eareckson of Viola, Idaho; and three grandchildren.

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