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Obituary of Captain Creighton David Lilly USN (Ret.)

Captain Creighton David Lilly, United States Navy Retired, a resident of Encinitas, California, passed away January 5, 2016 at the age of 94. Creighton was born in Bluefield, West Virginia on September 10, 1921. Creighton David Lilly was preceded in death by the love of his life, Barbara Anne to whom he was married for 66 years. He is survived by his four children, David (Susan), Stuart, Carol, and Anne (Morgan); eight grandchildren, Stephen, Elizabeth (Russ), Forest, Chelsea, Hannah, Michael, Nathan, and Logan; one great grandchild, Sonia, and by beloved nieces and nephews, Margaret Stuart Black, Jane Delbridge, Beverly Bivens, Joan Lee Rotramel, Lori Ray, Raymond Lilly, and Judy Morrill. Creighton was preceded in death by his parents, Cecil and Alma, his brother Cecil Jr., his sisters Elsie and Joan Lee, his niece Ennis Cooper and by Ben Lilly, his first great grandson.

Creighton Lilly graduated from Beaver High School in Bluefield, West Virginia where he was captain of the football team, and then from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis where he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy in 1945. As a young lieutenant he was appointed Commanding Officer of the newly constructed minesweeper, USS Fidelity (MSO 443). Later, he commanded the destroyer USS Hazelwood (DD 531) on blockade duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961. Then Creighton commanded Destroyer Division 601, and Destroyer Squadron 35. Creighton made four deployments to Vietnam during the war serving as a Task Force commander in the Seventh Fleet.

While serving in the Pentagon Creighton managed the program that resulted in the re-commissioning of the battleship New Jersey for service in the Vietnam War. For his distinguished military service, Creighton received the revered Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat V (twice), and more than a dozen other decoration and distinctive campaign medals.

Creighton was both a competent scholar and a teacher. He received his MS degree in International Affairs from George Washington University, and his MBA from Pepperdine University. Creighton was both a remarkable teacher and skilled trainer; first at the U. S. Naval Academy where he taught mechanical engineering, and later at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. As Chief of Staff of the Pacific Training Command in San Diego, he supervised all of the Navy’s training facilities throughout the Pacific Command. One of Creighton’s heroes, John Paul Jones, described the ideal naval officer as “the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, and charity”. These same words were echoed by the officers and sailors who served under Creighton’s leadership.

Creighton was a faithful member of the Episcopal Church. Creighton and his wife Barbara Anne participated in, and were leaders in the Cursillo church renewal movement in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. Creighton was active in the Angel Tree Project, a Christmas gift ministry for the children of parents in prison in San Diego. He was also an active fundraiser for Camp Stevens, the diocesan church camp in Julian, California. Creighton served as Junior and Senior Warden on the Vestry of St. James by-the Sea in San Diego. Creighton also combined his love of sports with his faith during his management of The St. James Sword’s softball team. Later he served as Junior and Senior Warden on the Vestry of Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield, West Virginia.

If you knew Creighton, then you knew that he had a great passion for the game of golf. Beginning as a caddy at the age of twelve, he played regularly until he was 90. In addition to placing a hole in one, Creighton also won the “longest putt” contest in a golf tournament at the age of 89. Everyone who played golf with Creighton has great stories about the “free advice” he offered to his friends and family while playing golf.

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