Published in The Capital on Dec. 10, 2013 January 31, 1918 - December 7, 2013
CAPT. RICHARDS THORN, USN (RET), a retired naval
architect and engineer, died December 7 at Baywoods of
Capt. Miller, an Annapolis resident, was born in Jenkintown,
PA and grew up in Washington, DC where he graduated
from the Western High School in 1935. He graduated from
the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in 1940 with a
bachelor of science degree in naval architecture and marine
engineering, and he received the degree of naval engineer
from MIT in 1951. He was an honorary member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of
1941. He was a registered professional engineer. Commissioned as an Ensign,
CC-V(S), USNR on graduation from Webb, he was called to active duty in September
1940. During WWII he served as Assistant Hull Superintendent building the battleships
IOWA and MISSOURI at the New York Naval Shipyard 1940-41, and Assistant
Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Annapolis, responsible for inspection of the construction of
submarine chasers, PTs and other small craft in ten yards in the northern Chesapeake
Bay and lower Delaware Bay areas 1941-45.
After the war he transferred to the regular Navy. His tours of duty included Planning and
Estimating Superintendent, Boston Naval Shipyard, Head, Preliminary Design Branch,
Bureau of Ships, Commanding Officer and Director, Mine Defense Laboratory, Panama
City, FL, and Director of Ship Design, Naval Ship Engineering Center.
After retiring from the Navy in 1968 he was a fellow engineer at the Oceanic Division of
Westinghouse in Annapolis and a consultant with Gibbs and Cox in New York on a
destroyer design from 1969 to 1970. From 1970 to 1979 he was an engineering
manager with Westinghouse. He retired from Westinghouse in 1979 and until recent
years served as a consultant for various ship design and engineering projects, and as an
arbitrator of admiralty cases concerning ship building and repair contracts. He wrote a
number of articles on ship design matters, co-authored a book on sailing yacht design,
and was co-founder of the Chesapeake Sailing Yacht Symposia. His memberships
included the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) of which he
was a Life Fellow and Honorary Vice President, the American Society of Naval
Engineers, the United States Naval Institute, the Society of Sigma Xi, the Christie
Society of the Maryland Board for Professional Engineers, the New York Yacht Cub, and
the Annapolis Yacht Club.
His awards included the Navy's Legion of Merit, SNAME's Capt. Jospeh H. Linnard
Prize, and the Webb Alumni Association's William Selkirk Owen Award.
He married his first wife, Jean Spear Miller, in 1941 and lost her to cancer in 1983.
He is survived by his second wife, Alice Houghton Miller, whom he married in 1984; two
daughters from his first marriage, Patricia Miller Fishburn of Fredericksburg, VA and
Linda Miller Carrier of Meridian, MS; a step son and a step daughter from his second
marriage, Capt. Thomas C. Houghton, USNR (Ret) of Annapolis and Susan Houghton
Hartman of Lewes, DE; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Friday December 13, 2013 at 11 AM at the John M.
Taylor Funeral Home, Inc. 147 Duke of Gloucester St, Annapolis, MD 21401.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Webb Institute Attn: Development Office,
298 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY 11542 or to the American Cancer Society.
Online condolences may be made at www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com