Walter E. Taverna, 95, passed away peacefully on October 26, 2017. Walter, a retired Mechanical Engineer, was born on March 7, 1922, in Jersey City, NJ. He is survived by his sons James (Tina) of Williamsburg, VA, and John (Laura) of Long Valley, NJ; his daughters Mary Taverna Ali (Abid) of Massapequa, NY, Kate Taverna (Alan Adelson) of New York, NY, Helen Taverna (Mark Reagan) of Basking Ridge, NJ, Nancy McCartin (Michael) of Lexington, MA and Joan Pinaire (Jim) of Chatham, NJ; grandchildren Justin, Kristin, Jessica, Julie, Christopher, Robert, Matthew, Timothy, Michael, Megan, Katherine, Kaitlin; 15 great-grandchildren and his cousin, Marie Villavecchia. He is also survived by Kerry Adelson, David, Paley and Oden Grodberg, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife, Genevieve (Jeanne) Taverna and grandson, Jaime Pinaire.
Walter graduated from Dickinson High School before heading to Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned varsity letters in baseball (captain Sr year), basketball (co-captain Sr year) and soccer and voted "Best Athlete" of his class. He was at the movies with his father when the Pearl Harbor attack was reported. Walter enlisted in the Navy the next day, opting for the Submarine Service because it would earn him a few additional dollars pay each month. He was deferred while at Stevens, which allowed him to meet Genevieve McLaughlin, his wife of 71 years. Upon graduation, he attended the Midshipman School at the US Naval Academy, received his commission as an Ensign in the US Navy. Walter and Genevieve were married with a military ceremony in September 1943 and immediately following their honeymoon, he departed for the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, FL serving on the USS R-2. His training continued at the Submarine School at New London, CT before he was assigned to the USS BLACKFIN (SS-322), which was under construction in New London, where he served as the Communications Officer. A "plank owner" of the BLACKFIN, launched on March 12, 1944, Walter qualified officer in submarines while aboard and completed five war patrols for which he received the Submarine Combat pin (1 star). Even 70 years after the war, he could still recall the clicking sound that preceded a depth charge. He was also awarded the Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal (1 star), the Philippine Liberation Medal (2 Bronze stars), and the Victory Medal. At the conclusion of the conflict with Japan, the BLACKFIN was assigned as one of the subs to guard the approaches to Japan while Gen. McArthur and the Japanese Prime Minister signed the surrender papers on the USS MISSOURI. Walter was a member of the North Carolina Chapter of the US Submarine Veterans of WWII and the Lehigh Valley Base of the US Submarines Veterans, Inc., where he was the oldest member.
Walter was a licensed Mechanical Engineer in 18 states. After discharge from the US Navy as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, he lived in the NY and NJ area and worked in the field of Engineering, Design and Construction of Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Plants as a project manager, both in the US and overseas, until he retired from Burns and Roe Enterprises in 1985. Walter and Jeanne then moved to Seven Lakes, NC where they enjoyed playing golf and bridge with their many friends. Walter was frequently sighted raising the American Flag in the center of Seven Lakes, North Carolina where he took it on himself to lower the community flag to half-staff on the anniversary of the loss of every submarine. Residents were left guessing whose deaths were being commemorated until the local TV station got on to the story and contacted him, ultimately raising public awareness of the sacrifices made by submarine servicemen. In 2008, he and Jeanne moved to the Heath Village retirement community in Washington Township, NJ, where Walter was a member of a winning bocce ball team and continued his bridge playing.
Services are Tuesday, October 31st at 10:30 AM at Our Lady of the Mountain Church, 2 E. Springtown Rd, Long Valley, NJ. A private burial will be held on Wednesday, November 1st. Viewing is Monday, October 30th, from 3:00-6:00 PM at Scala's Memorial Home, 124 High St, Hackettstown, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Heath Village Employee Appreciation Fund in memory of Walter Taverna (Heath Village, 430 Schooley's Mountain Road, Hackettstown, NJ 07840).