John M. Gore – Captain, United States Navy, Emily Fenn Gore – Navy Spouse

Together in Life and Death, Couple Still Kept Individuality
Family, Church and Military Were Focus for Nearly 7 Decades
By Patricia Sullivan
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Sunday, May 25, 2008


The Gores met when he was a Navy ensign. They were married aboard a U.S. Navy ship as it pulled into Norfolk.

For 67 years, Bud and Emily Gore built a life together.

It began with a last-minute date. A midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy broke his ankle playing football and asked John M. “Bud” Gore, a Southern gentleman and fellow midshipman, to escort a lovely New Englander, Emily Finn, on a date on his behalf. The first midshipman never got a second chance.

The Gores' lives, like those of so many of the military couples who live in the Washington area, span periods of war and peace, the growth of a family, multiple transfers to big bases in small towns and, occasionally, a home in a glamorous setting. In retirement, they focused on family and church.

Last June, the Gores celebrated their 90th birthdays with a party that drew more than 100 friends, some of whom they'd known since the 1930s. Abundant food and drink, many humorous anecdotes and, typically for the couple, prayers of thanksgiving were the highlights.

On April 9, 2008, at the Vinson Hall military retirement center in McLean, where they lived, Emily Finn Gore had a stroke. Her husband called 911. “Dad — who lives and breathes for Mom — watched her being carried out of their apartment on a stretcher and then suffered a hemorrhagic stroke himself,” their daughter, Suzanne Gore Reynolds of Fairfax, wrote in an e-mail to family members.

The couple shared a room at Inova Fairfax Hospital, but Captain Gore died April 14. Mrs. Gore, who had dashed off crossword and acrostic puzzles in ink until the day of her stroke, died under hospice care May 6 at the Fountains at Washington House in Alexandria.

Their long lives together did not erase their individuality. His friends said the outgoing Captain Gore had a hard time deciding, in his college days, between the poop deck and the pulpit. Mrs. Gore was an introvert with a sterling intellect.

Born in Guam, the daughter of a Navy captain, Mrs. Gore was raised in China and the Philippines until her family settled in Newport, Rhode Island. She loved sailing, at least until she was 21 — when a hurricane veered unexpectedly into the path of her 40-foot sailboat.

“We streaked across Narragansett Bay under bare poles faster than we ever did under canvas,” she said later. As the boat was dragging anchor but about to slam ashore, she fell into the raging water. She could never quite remember how she scrambled back onto the foundering boat and later climbed a bluff to safety.

She graduated from high school at 15 and from Wellesley College with a degree in chemistry. By then, she had met the Navy ensign she would marry at their first opportunity, which, under Navy regulations of the time, meant two years after his 1939 Naval Academy graduation. Wedded aboard a Navy ship as it arrived in his home town of Norfolk, the couple snatched a one-night honeymoon before duty called.

Pearl Harbor interrupted Ensign Gore's studies at the Navy's Supply School, sending him to sea with the British Home Fleet and later aboard the battleship USS Washington at Guadalcanal.

During World War II, Mrs. Gore taught chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked as a nurse's aide with the American Red Cross.

After the war, the Navy sent the couple to Boston, Annapolis and Norfolk until he was assigned as a supply officer on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany during the Korean War. His wife drove their children cross-country in the family's Ford to see his ship off, then settled for 18 months in Coronado, California, until he returned.

They spent the next three years in Philadelphia and Norfolk, but the highlight of his assignments came in 1960, when the new Navy captain, his wife and three children were sent to Paris, where he worked at a NATO agency. Settling in a suburb away from the American military enclaves, the Gores immersed themselves in French life.

“There was, for example, the day Jackie and JFK visited Paris,” Captain Gore wrote in his 1998 memoir. “A Frenchman at our dinner table in a familiar restaurant bought a bouquet of flowers from a woman vendor walking among the patrons. Handing them to Mom, he said, ‘These are for you, Madame. Today is your day.' ”

Captain Gore retired in 1967 as chief of logistics for the National Security Agency. The previous year, he had received a master's degree in education from American University. His wife wasn't far behind: Her graduate entrance exam score was just short of perfect, and, with a friend, she decided to get her master's degree in library science at Catholic University. After receiving her degree in 1972, she wrote medical abstracts for a government contractor and “spurned all threats of promotion,” her children said.

The Gores' son, John Bryan Gore, a Navy pilot, died in 1985 in a C-131H crash. In addition to their daughter Suzanne Reynolds, survivors include two other daughters, Jane Ramos of Baltimore and Anne “Nancy” Eakin of Durango, Colorado; four grandsons; and a great-grandson.

The couple, active in several Episcopal churches, were generous with the area's homeless and with Christian missions around the world. They also sponsored the immigration of Vietnamese refugee David Phan and his wife. Phan, a Southern Vietnamese army lieutenant, had been arrested and put into a labor camp when the Northern Vietnamese swept into the South.

Phan and his wife later escaped South Vietnam by boat, floating for 17 days in the South China Sea before being picked up. The Phan and Gore families remained close through the years, which was reflected in a saying that Captain Gore frequently told his children.

“When you're young, you have a broad mind and a narrow waist,” he would say. “When you're older, that reverses.”

JOHN M. GORE “Bud” EMILY FENN GORE A Navy Life & Death Together Approaching the 67th anniversary of an extraordinary Navy marriage, Captain John M. (Bud) Gore, USN (Ret.), and his wife, Emily Fenn Gore, both suffered strokes within an hour of each other on April  9, 2008 at their apartment in McLean, Virginia. Both were 90. Captain Gore, a veteran of World War II and the Korean war, died April 14, 2008 and Emily died under hospice care on May 6, 2008.

In June of 2007, the couple celebrated their 90th birthdays jointly at a party with more than 100 friends and family, with prayers of thanksgiving for their many years together: the Virginia gentleman and his New England lady.


Emily Fenn Gore was born July 2, 1917 in Guam, daughter of a Navy Captain. She was initially raised in China and the Philippines and settled with her family in Newport, Rhode Island. There she completed high school at 15 and majored in chemistry at Wellesley College. During the war, she taught chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked as a Red Cross nurses aide. In later years, Emily studied at Catholic University obtaining a masters degree in library science and writing medical abstracts for a government contractor. She possessed a sterling intellect and an introverted nature.

Born June 14, 1917 in Orangeburg South Carolina, but raised in Norfolk Virginia, Bud Gore attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with the Class of 1939. Pearl Harbor shortened Ensign Gore's studies at the Naval Supply School and sent the freshly-minted officer to sea. A highlight of his service in the war was aboard the USS Washington in the thundering victory at Savo Island, Guadalcanal – the turning point of fortunes in the South Pacific. Another highlight came when Bud was newly selected Captain and assigned to a NATO agency in Paris, France. He and Emily and their four children lived on the economy in a Paris suburb, gained lifelong friendships, and savored memorable travels throughout Europe.

Captain Gore enjoyed a long and successful Navy career, including assignments at the Pentagon and National Security Agency.

Retiring in 1971, he was elected comptroller of The Retired Officers Association, enjoying that position for 14 years. He received a masters degree in Education from American University. Beloved for his wit and wisdom, Bud spent the full measure of his life as a good and faithful servant and living a life of Christian commitment.

Both Gores were very active in the Episcopal Church and were quietly generous to others. Bud carried envelopes containing $20 bills and the addresses of shelters for those in need. They supported many Christian missionaries and charities and without fanfare, sponsored Vietnamese refugees Mr. and Mrs. David Phan who became like family members.

On Monday, June 23, Capt. and Mrs. Gore's ashes will be interred at a 1 p.m. burial service (guests assemble at the Administration Building by 12:30 p.m.) at the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite of their son John Bryan Gore, a Navy pilot, who died in a tragic C-131 plane crash in 1985. A reception at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial will follow.

The Gores are survived by three daughters, Suzanne Gore Reynolds of Fairfax, Virginia, Jane Ramos of Baltimore, Maryland and Anne (Nancy) Eakin of Durango, Colorado; their spouses, four grandsons, and a great-grandson.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard Residence Foundation (NMCGRF on check) and mail to: 6251 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Virginia 22101.

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