Death of a Classmate - Captain Donal “Don” Willis Elliott - 11th Co.

Captain Donal "Don" Willis Elliott, 86, died peacefully at the Capital Caring Hospice on January 22, 2019.

Captain Elliott was born on December 24, 1932 in Belleville, NJ to Dorothy Muriel and George Willis Elliott. Born in the midst of the Great Depression, his father left him, his mother and older sister shortly after his birth. They were subsequently taken in by his mother's sister, Faith, and her husband Fred Croxson, who raised Don as a son in West Orange, NJ. He excelled in both academics and sports before graduating from West Orange High School in 1950. Growing up, he was an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, visiting Ebbets Field dozens of times as a boy to watch his favorite player, #42, the great Jackie Robinson. He also loved tennis, playing competitive doubles into his late 70s.

In 1950, he was accepted at the Naval Academy and graduated with distinction in 1954. From there, he attended flight school training in Pensacola, FL and Monterey, CA to become a naval aviator. During his career, Captain Elliott flew over 500 missions, was deployed to Vietnam on three separate occasions where he was involved in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and earned a bronze star while serving on the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Ticonderoga. He was also involved in two Apollo capsule moon landing recoveries. He retired with full honors on July 1, 1984 after a 30 year career.

Early in his career, and as part of his involvement in ASW, Captain Elliott spearheaded the development of the sonobuoy program, which uses sound waves to detect submarines. He continued working in that field of expertise not only throughout his naval career but also for Navy contractors until he was well into his 80s.

On December 30, 1961, Captain Elliott married Deborah "Debbie" Lou Harvey. As dictated by his Navy career, they lived primarily in the greater San Diego and Washington D.C. areas, remaining married until her passing in 1989.

Captain Elliott is survived by his older sister, Patricia Muriel Dow of Middletown, RI, his two nephews, Norman Dow (Diana) and Scott Dow (Theresa), his three nieces, sisters Jill Fisher (Bill), Diana Weber (Ed) and Allison Thomas, his 13 great nephews and nieces and 3 great-great nephews and niece.

A memorial service will be held at Rust Manor House at Rust Nature Sanctuary, 802 Childrens Center Road, Leesburg, VA from 12-3 pm Saturday, February 9. At a future date tbd, Captain Elliott will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to any of the following: American Heart Association, Friends of Homeless Animals (foha.org) or Humane Society of Loudoun (humaneloudoun.org).

Colonial Funeral Home of Leesburg
201 Edwards Ferry Road NE
Leesburg, Virginia 20176


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