CHESAPEAKE- Vernon Elwood Halstead, 94, passed away at his residence in The Crossings at Oakbrooke Assisted Living in Chesapeake VA on Friday, August 17, 2018, after a short battle with brain cancer.
Vernon was born on December 19, 1923 in Portsmouth, VA to the late Benjamin Franklin (Sr.) and Mary Elida Halstead. He began his work life at the young age of 9, working with his brothers as paperboys and delivering groceries for Chubby’s and later Port Norfolk Grocery. They always had their devoted dog, Speed, to go on the deliveries with them. Dad could still remember his paper route, everyone who lived in Port Norfolk and how much he collected weekly.
After graduating Woodrow Wilson High School in 1943, he and three of his buddies decided to take the street car downtown and signed up for the Navy. He spent 20 years serving our country, including World War II and the Korean War. As with many of the other men and women of his generation, he didn’t talk about the war time until much later in life and was still very humble about the sheer feats of heroism he was involved in or witnessed throughout that time.
On March 20, 1945, his destroyer, the USS Halsey Powell DD686, of which he was a plank owner, was struck by a kamikaze plane in the Pacific while refueling from the aircraft carrier Hancock. Twelve crew members were killed or missing and 29 injured. This caused a life-long aversion to fire and sense of survivor appreciation (not guilt; that wasn’t his way), as he was to have been working in the engine room at the time it was hit.
After his retirement from the Navy in 1963, he moved back to Portsmouth and began working at the Midtown Tunnel for the tunnel police. After a few months of being “underwater” for many hours a day/night, he went to work for the VA ABC store, eventually retiring in 1986 as a manager of the Churchland store.
He met the love of his life, Audrey, at the Town & Country shopping center in Cradock where she was working at the Montgomery Ward catalog store. They started eating lunches together at Didio’s restaurant and the rest, as they say, is history.
Vernon was predeceased by his loving wife of 50 years, Audrey Grace Howell Halstead. He is survived by his children, Marsha L. Rohrer and Kathy H. Forde, both of Jacksonville, FL; Frank E Halstead Sr. and his wife Maria of Houston, TX and Susan G. Tiedemann and her husband Mark of Chesapeake, VA. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Nora F. Kemmerer (Bryce) of Manassas, VA; Frank E. Halstead Jr. (Linda) of Houston, TX; Michael N. Forde of Groveland, FL; Audrey H. Chapman (Sam) of Houston, TX; Elizabeth G. Tiedemann of Chatham, VA; Kathryn M. Halstead of Houston, TX; and Steven M. Tiedemann (Jessica) of Fayetteville, NC. He was blessed with three great-grandchildren, Olivia G. Halstead, Ofelia Halstead, James Samuel Chapman III, and baby girl Chapman due 8/21/18, all of Houston, TX.
The family would like to thank the entire staff at The Crossings at Oakbrooke for the compassionate and amazing level of care given to our Dad. In addition, the Interim Hospice team provided us with the support and excellent care needed in helping him transition peacefully and with dignity. You were all true blessings to him and us.
A funeral service will be held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, September 1, at Foster Funeral Home, 1926 High St., Portsmouth. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Burial with full military honors will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens, 3920 Airline Blvd., Chesapeake.
Vernon was known for his loyalty and devotion to his family, church and friends. His joyous and happy spirit will live on in his memory. In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Vernon by donating to the Glioblastoma Foundation, the American Cancer Society or another charity of your choice. Condolences may be registered at BWFosterFuneralHome.com.