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John H. Chenard

July 20, 1938 December 1, 2018
John H. Chenard
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Obituary for John H. Chenard

John H. Chenard Obituary

John Chenard’s spirit is now eternally sailing the high seas in the heavens after a battle with ALS which was diagnosed in April of 2018. He passed peacefully at the age of 80 on December 1 at his home in Oakton, VA surrounded by loved ones.

John was born in East Meadow, NY and grew up in Bucksport, ME. Upon graduating high school, he reported to Annapolis for his plebe year at the United States Naval Academy. He spent as much time swimming as possible to combat the heat as he adjusted to the warmer than normal summer. During his four years at the Academy he participated in intramural sailing, football, and water polo.

Following graduation, John spent his first thirteen years serving aboard numerous ships including the destroyers USS Ault, USS Roan, and USS Ware and two new-construction guided missile cruisers (USS Belknap and USS Yarnell) primarily in weapons billets. Sea duty took him to the Mediterranean, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam.

He managed nuclear warheads as a 23 year-old bachelor which accelerated his maturation and his Naval career. He enjoyed the quiet transition from vacuum tubes to solid state for fire control radars (thank you, Sperry!).

John earned master’s degrees in Aerospace Physics from the Naval Postgraduate School and Electrical Engineering from UCLA and completed an executive management program at Pennsylvania State University. Teaching assignments included Dartmouth University, San Diego State University, and Nassau Community College.

Upon earning his master's degree in aerospace physics, he was loaned out to Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Summary Programs, as director of land-based and at sea testing of electrostatic gyro navigation and subsequent appointment to Strategic Systems Project Office technology representative at Sperry Corporation in New York.

A logical transfer to Engineering Duty Officer resulted in an appointment to in-service engineer for 31 cruiser and destroyer weapons systems. He was the Director of Long-Range Missile Systems at NAVSEA Systems Command and the engineering and procurement program manager for AEGIS shipbuilding. Additionally, he served as the joint Department of Energy/US Navy program manager for nuclear weapons in Sandia Base, New Mexico and became the Director of the board of visitors at the Naval Post Graduate School. After retiring from the Navy, John enjoyed a second career in the private sector at companies including CSC, SAIC and Leidos.

Upon retirement from the private sector, John found great joy in his summer “job” as a sailing instructor at Coasters Harbor Navy Yacht Club on base in Newport, RI while spending time with family in his home by the sea. John is survived by his wife Sheila, sons John, Chris and Michael and their wives and eight grandchildren.

Services will be at St Mark Catholic Church in Vienna, VA on Friday, December 7th at 4 pm. Memorial donations may be made to the ALS Association.

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Previous Events

Funeral Mass




4:00 PM 12/7/2018 4:00:00 PM
St. Mark Catholic Church

9970 Vale Road
Vienna, VA 22180

St. Mark Catholic Church
9970 Vale Road Vienna 22180 VA
United States

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