Death of a Classmate - Capt. Roland Clarke Bilyeu USN (Ret.) - 6th Co.

Capt. Roland Clarke Bilyeu USN (Ret.) of Williamsburg died peacefully on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, surrounded by family. Born Feb. 18, 1932, in Sheridan, Wyo., "Buster" was the son of Clarke and Georgia Huss Bilyeu and graduated from Sheridan High School. After a year at the University of Wyoming, he received a Senatorial appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In 1954 he graduated with his commission as Ensign. He met his future bride of 60 years Mary Katherine Buckley in her hometown of New London, Conn., where he was attending submarine school. They were married in June 1959 at the Naval Submarine Base New London Chapel. Buster entered the submarine service after two years in the USS Gurke. Submarine tours included the Raton, Swordfish, Von Steuben and Snook. In 1968, he returned to the Swordfish as commanding officer. Subsequently, he served as commander, Submarine Division 61 and as deputy commander, Submarine Squadron 6. Buster performed several tours of duty during his 28-year Naval career including San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Norfolk. The next three and a half years were spent in the Pentagon, followed by a tour as commander, Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, a tour he and his family enjoyed very much. Never one to talk about his achievements, we will do it for him. Buster was honored with several decorations, medals and citations including the Legion of Merit (twice), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal with Star, China Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Star, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and the Third Order of Sacred Treasure. Buster retired from the Navy in July 1982 and with his family settled in Williamsburg, working for Virginia Power at the Surry Nuclear Power Station for 12 years. He loved tennis, golf, music and was a life-long avid reader. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Don, his wife Mary Kay and his son, Jeff. Buster leaves to cherish his memory his sister Carole Bilyeu-Selig; brothers Jim Bilyeu and Michael Bilyeu; his daughter Pam Cohen; his son Greg Bilyeu and his wife Stephanie Fulenwider Bilyeu; grandson Jostin Bilyeu and his wife Meghan; grandsons Parker and Spencer Cohen; great-grandchildren Ramona and Clarke; and many loving relatives, friends and of course, shipmates. Buster will be inurned at the Naval Academy with his wife Mary Kay. The family requests donations to support the Hospice House of Williamsburg in lieu of flowers.
Published in Virginia Gazette on Aug. 10, 2019

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