William Dodge Sample – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

William Dodge Sample was born in Buffalo, New York, on 9 March 1898. Following graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1918, he reported for duty in USS HENDERSON. For meritorious service during a fire on board that ship, he received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Detached in August, he served on several destroyers based at Queenstown, Ireland, during the remainder of World War I. He remained in the European Waters Detachment after the end of the war; and, in December 1921, was transferred to the gunboat, PAMPANGA, on the Asiatic Station. A year later, he returned to the United States for flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator on 23 June 1923.

After duty in several observation squadrons, he served on board the carriers SARATOGA and LEXINGTON, commanding VF-5 on the latter. During 1938 and 1939, he served in RANGER; and, after the outbreak of World War II, assisted in the conversion of SANTEE. Assuming command of that escort carrier on its commissioning, he was awarded a letter of commendation for service during Operation “Torch,” the invasion of North Africa.

On 19 April 1944, he assumed command of INTREPID. In May, he was transferred to the command of HORNET; and, in the ensuing months, participated in operations in the Marianas and in strikes against the Volcano Islands. Detached in August, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and successively commanded Carrier Divisions 24, 27, and 22. With the latter from February 1945, he was listed as missing on 2 October 1945 after his plane failed to return from a familiarization flight near Wakayama, Japan. Rear Admiral Sample was officially declared dead on 3 October 1946.

Fashionable Hostess Mary L.L. Anderson
Courtesy of the Washington Post

Mary Lee Lamar Anderson, a gracious Navy wife and hostess who startled official Washington in 1962 when she had the red-brick Admiral's House at the Naval Observatory painted a bright light gray, died of pneumonia October 30, 2006, at her Watergate apartment six days short of her 100th birthday.

Mrs. Anderson and her husband, Admiral George W. Anderson, Chief of Naval Operations, lived from 1961 to 1963 in the hilltop home overlooking Massachusetts Avenue, which was built in 1893 for the superintendent of the Naval Observatory. The chief of naval operations requisitioned it for his home in 1923, and since 1974, it has been the official residence of the Vice President.

“The house used to look absolutely haunted when we'd drive up late at night,” she told a Washington Post reporter in 1962. “So when I heard that they were going to clean the dirty red brick, I asked if they could paint it instead. . . . All I had in mind was freshening it up. But look at it. It has a different shape. Instead of going up, it now spreads.”

The house, previously described as “staid” and “Victorian” with its large, dark windows and brooding turret, perked up with its light color, white trim and greenish-black blinds.

Inside, dark woodwork became off-white, and Mrs. Anderson rescued pale blue satin damask draperies from the attic and hung them downstairs alongside family heirlooms and paintings lent from the U.S. Navy Museum. She moved garden parties onto the sweeping veranda and introduced hot pink refreshment tents, replacing somber green canvas.

Her fashion sense was praised by a Post women's page writer in 1961: “She often goes out and trudges for hours to find something just right for her. Always chic, she dresses in high fashion, but not too high . . . not off one shoulder, for instance.” She also sewed and was a talented flower arranger.

A Southern belle who married two Navy officers who became admirals, Mrs. Anderson traveled around the world. She was born Mary Lee Lamar in Pensacola, Florida, graduated from the former Gunston Hall finishing school in Northern Virginia and then married aviator William Dodge Sample. During World War II, while he was overseas, she lived in San Francisco. Sample, who became the youngest Rear Admiral in the Pacific theater, died in a plane crash in Japan in 1945.

She married Anderson, then a Captain, in 1948. Mrs. Anderson followed her husband to the Mediterranean and through Asia. They lived in the south of France while her husband commanded the Sixth Fleet before moving to Washington in 1961.

After two years at the Admiral's House, the Admiral was appointed ambassador to Portugal. The U.S. government owned a palatial residence in Lisbon for its ambassador, and Mrs. Anderson's decorating skills were once again put to use. They returned to the United States in 1966, settling first in McLean and later at the Watergate.

Mrs. Anderson was an avid golfer and was a member of Christ Church in Georgetown. She was also a member of the Colonial Dames of America, the Chevy Chase Club and the Sulgrave Club. She volunteered with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Naval Officers' Wives Club, the International Neighbors Club and the Red Cross.

Her second husband died in 1992. Two stepsons also died: George Anderson III, in 1986, and Thomas Patrick Anderson, a veteran of 200 Navy combat missions in Vietnam, in a plane crash in 1978 in the Mediterranean.

Survivors include a daughter from her first marriage, Carolyn Sample Abshire of Alexandria; a stepdaughter, Nan Anderson Coughlin of Washington; 12 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.


MARY LEE LAMAR ANDERSON. Wife of the late Admiral George W. Anderson, USA (Ret.), died peacefully on Monday, October 30, 2006; beloved mother of Carolyn S. Abshire and son-in-law, David M. Abshire and Nan Coughlin. She also leaves 12 grandchildren, The Rev. Lupton Abshire, Anna Bowman, Mary Lee Jensvold, Phyllis d'Hoop, Caroline Hall, Mary A. Miller, Dan, Laura and Brenda Coughlin, Tom and David Anderson, Muriel Martens and 20 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will take place on Saturday, November 4 at 11 a.m. at Christ Church, Georgetown, 31st and O Sts., NW. Interment Arlington National Cemetery.


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