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William Edward McTigue

William Edward McTigue, 90, of Ft. Washington, MD passed away on Wednesday, November 29, 2017.
Born to the late Emma (Riel) and Philip McTigue in Palmer, MA. Bill’s father was from an immigrant Irish family who taught him strength, determination, high expectations, and the drive to make life better for your family. His mother was from a French Canadian family who taught him loyalty, community, and taking care of each other. Bill was an athlete and scholar, winning an award at his high school for best all around boy just days before he joined the US Army for World War Two. In the Army, Bill was sent to Europe where he was stationed near Nuremberg working in a displaced persons camp, helping people who had been liberated from concentration camps and slave labor mines. He had just turned 18. Later, he was part of a graves registry unit that travelled around Europe interviewing local people about where planes had crashed or where they suspected mass graves might be. They recovered bodies and made sure the deceased people were treated with respect.

After the War, Bill used the GI Bill to attend the University of Massachusetts, which was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College when he started. His parents dropped him off in Amherst and his father told him his job was to become an educated man. Billy majored in forestry, blending his love of nature and science. He conducted research in the Harvard Forest and spent summers fighting forest fires in the Pacific Northwest.

After graduating, Bill was hired as a cartographer by the US Navy's Hydrographic Office (now known as the Navy Oceanographic Office). His team mapped areas around the world, including Turkey, the Black Sea, Thailand, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. He surveyed northern Greenland, the Canadian Arctic, and parts of Hudson Bay for the installation of DEW Line stations that watched to see if the Soviets were sending missiles over the Pole. Bill also took part in the mapping of part of Antarctic and has a mountain named after him there. He always dismissed this, saying it was just a small mountain...more like a big hill because it was largely covered in ice.

Bill was enrolled in a course on the interpretation of aerial photographs. He finished at the top of the class, above fellow students who were working for this sort of new-ish federal agency involved with intelligence. Shortly after, Bill was recruited to join the CIA to work on photo interpretation, first from plane-based photos then from satellites. One Sunday, he was raking leaves and getting ready to watch football, when he received a call from work. A military officer ordered him to work immediately. Something had been seen on a photo from Cuba. Bill spent the next several days working on images of a Soviet missile site...the Cuban missile crisis. When President Kennedy addressed the nation, there was a large photo over his shoulder showing the site. Bill worked on that image and helped to develop the large version by turning shower floors in the Suitland federal buildings into large developing pans.

Bill met the love of his life, Bernice (Bakajza) while dancing at a Paul Jones dance at the American Legion Post 248. It was love at first sight. They married in 1961 and two daughters, Terry and Mickey, soon followed. Bill and Bea raised their girls with abundant love and instilled in them a sense of personal and social responsibility. As good of a father as Bill was, he was an even better grandfather. Katie and Carrie knew from the minute he held them that they were special and adored and that their PopPop would move heaven and earth for them.

Bill loved serving his country and saw it as a way to give back to the nation that had given his family the chance to succeed. He was a member for over 60 years with the American Legion Post 248 and the VFW Morningside Post 9619. As much as he loved his country and his work, though, he loved his family more.
He is survived by his two loving daughters, Teresa McTigue (Lawrence Blue) of Silver Spring, MD, and Michelle McTigue (Bernard Janoss) Janoss of Lake Orion, MI; and two adoring granddaughters, Katherine and Caroline Janoss. In addition to his parents, William was predeceased by his wife, Bernice in 2014.


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