William H. Deardurff, a retired Owens Corning purchasing manager and a World War II Navy veteran whose public talks about Iwo Jima and Okinawa kept vivid the memory of his comrades’ sacrifices, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 96.
He had heart problems, his daughter Diane said. He and his wife, Martha, were longtime South Toledo residents. They moved to Swan Creek Retirement Village about 2 ½ years ago.
Mr. Deardurff was a signalman and navigator aboard a small submarine chaser in the Pacific Theater and spoke of his wartime experiences to school and civic groups. He gave several talks to American Legion Toledo Post 335, where he was a member, including “Iwo Jima — Bloodiest Battle, Greatest Victory,” and an eyewitness account of the invasion of Okinawa.
He also wrote accounts of his wartime Navy experiences for his children.
“He had an excellent memory,” his daughter said. “He remembered all the people and their names and in later years tried to contact some.
“This history of it was important, the sacrifices the people made, the contributions they made, what they saw, and how they served their country.”
He received two Bronze Stars for his part in the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He didn’t seek recognition for himself or other survivors.
“The men with the flags draped over their coffins — those are the ones who deserve the honor, not us,” Mr. Deardurff told The Blade in 2005 at the 60th anniversary of the Iwo Jima landing.
In 2008, he went with the Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio to Washington and visited the World War II Memorial.
“He was so thrilled he got to see the memorial,” his daughter said.
Mr. Deardurff retired in 1981 as a corporate-purchasing manager of what was then Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. He got his start in 1936 as an operator on the Fiberglas wool production line at the firm’s plant in his hometown, Newark, Ohio. He was working in the office in 1942 when he joined the Navy.
On his return, Owens Corning sent him to the University of Chicago for business education and to Ohio State University for purchasing management. His superiors transferred him to Toledo in 1955.
“They knew they needed him here,” his daughter said. “He had a very good work ethic, and if he took a job, he was going to do his best. He always looked forward: What would make it better, what could they do to improve the product?”
He was a former director and a past president of the Purchasing Management Association in Toledo. He was a member of the Ohio Tool Collectors Association and was a supporter of All Aboard Ohio, which advocates increased passenger rail access between cities.
He was born July 25, 1916, to Christine and William Deardurff and was a 1934 graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School in Newark.
Surviving are his wife, Martha Deardurff, whom he married Feb. 22, 1941; son, William Deardurff; daughters, Diane Weed and Holly Gralak, and three grandchildren.
Vistitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Coyle Funeral Home, with a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church, of which he was a charter member. Prayer services are to begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday in St. Francis de Sales Church, Newark, Ohio, before burial.
The family suggests tributes to St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church; the memorial fund of American Legion Toledo Post 335; Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.