NEW BERN | Walter Edgar Tedford, 86, died August 22nd, 2014 peacefully at home, surrounded by his immediate family and a few close friends. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary Jean, a son Mark and his wife Julie of New Canaan, CT, a son Stephen and his wife Kathryn, of Leonardtown, MD, a niece, Judy Muessel of Austin, TX and five granddaughters. Walter was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. From an early age, he developed a love of sailing and built a small boat in his early high school years in which he floated down the San Antonio River. "Mickey" as his early friends and family called him, graduated from high...
NEW BERN | Walter Edgar Tedford, 86, died August 22nd, 2014 peacefully at home, surrounded by his immediate family and a few close friends.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary Jean, a son Mark and his wife Julie of New Canaan, CT, a son Stephen and his wife Kathryn, of Leonardtown, MD, a niece, Judy Muessel of Austin, TX and five granddaughters.
Walter was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. From an early age, he developed a love of sailing and built a small boat in his early high school years in which he floated down the San Antonio River. "Mickey" as his early friends and family called him, graduated from high school in 1946 and enlisted in the Navy before the end of World War II. He served two years as an aviation photographer's mate before being honorably discharged in 1948. Back in San Antonio, he enrolled in Trinity College on the G.I. Bill and later transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a degree in engineering. At UT, Mickey played on the university tennis team, was a member of the student senate and held leadership roles at the Theleme student-run co-op. During his summers, Mickey got jobs maintaining and refurbishing large privately owned sailing yachts in southern California. In 1953, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and earned membership in Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. That summer he sailed in the first of two Trans Pac races from Los Angeles to Honolulu aboard a 56' sloop named Jada. At the request of the owner, he sailed a second race aboard Blue Belle in 1967.
Walt had joined Hazeltine Corporation, a maker of defense industry communications equipment, as a field engineer, and moved to Japan. After four years in Southeast Asia, the company transferred him to their headquarters in Long Island, New York.
On Long Island, "Walt", as he became known, bought a small, wooden, cutter-rigged sloop called the "Windlass" which he spent several years sailing in Long Island sound and up to Newport, Rhode Island. During the winter of 1963, Walter met the girl of his dreams on a blind date arranged by his future sister and brother-in-law. He married Mary Jean Newton of Winchester, MA in the summer of 1964 and moved to the town of Huntington the following year. After the birth of his two sons, Mark in 1966 and Steve in 1968, Walt decided the family needed a larger sailboat. He couldn't find a vessel on the market that met his needs, so Walt decided to build his own sailboat. He modified a Thomas Gillmer designed ketch and bought an empty fiberglass hull from the builder which he trailered home in 1970. Walt spent the next four years building the boat in his driveway. In 1976, the sailing ship "Excalibur" was christened and brought to her mooring at the Centerport Yacht Club. For the next few years, Walt spent summer vacations with his family exploring every port on the east coast between Huntington, NY and York, Maine.
Professionally, Walt continued to advance at Hazeltine and made the transition from Engineering into Sales and Marketing. In 1979, he accepted an expatriate assignment as a VP of Marketing and moved the family and his boat to London, England. The family spent three wonderful years there traveling northern Europe and sailing the British Channel. He returned with the family in 1981 and spent the remainder of his professional career marketing licensing agreements for Hazeltine's technology patents to government and corporate clients around the world. In his 34 years with the company, Walter traveled to more than 80 countries on 6 continents, building friendships with colleagues across the globe.
In 1988, Walt decided to retire from corporate America to the quiet life of New Bern, North Carolina. He and Mary Jean found a waterfront lot that provided access to the Neuse River, the Pamlico Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway. After building a dock on the property, Walt sailed Excalibur down from New York and lived aboard while a new house was being built. The following year they traveled down the Intracoastal Waterway to southern Florida before jumping offshore to sail the Bahamas. Walt and Mary Jean enjoyed that first trip and the people they met so much that they decided a larger boat was needed to provide more suitable accommodations to live aboard. He and Mary Jean made 11 additional trips spending their winters in the Bahamas aboard two subsequent vessels, a Whitby 42 and then a DeFever 48, both aptly named Camelot.
When he was not traveling the ICW or enjoying the Caribbean sun, Walt had a variety of pursuits in New Bern. He earned his Extra HAM radio license and communicated with other seaborne travelers. Walt also developed and managed an online listing of local service providers called the Fairfield Harbor service peoples list (a local version of Angie's List). Walt belonged to the Fairfield Harbour Yacht Club, the men's tennis group at Fairfield Harbour and the First Presbyterian Church of New Bern.
A memorial service for Walt will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of New Bern, 400 New Street, on Saturday August 30th, 2014 at 11 a.m. with the Reverend Dr. William Hawkins presiding. The family will meet with friends at a reception immediately following the service in the Session House.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the home health hospice service which provided wonderful care for Walt at CCHD Foundation, P.O. Drawer 12610, New Bern, NC 28561 (252-636-4930) or to the First Presbyterian Church of New Bern at First Presbyterian Church Foundation, P.O. Box 1069, New Bern, NC 28563 (252-637-3270).