William Cole Dotson, 92, Captain, USN (Ret.) peacefully passed away on February 2, 2018, at his home in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Bill was born and raised in Hodgenville, Kentucky, the oldest of three siblings. Growing up during the Great Depression, he worked hard to help his family make ends meet, but he never lost his affection for Hodgenville, his grandparents’ farm, and the people who always knew him as “Billy Cole.” The values of thrift, work and self-reliance he developed there defined him throughout his life.
Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated in 1949. Bill had a long, distinguished naval career, holding command positions both at-sea and ashore. He commanded the submarine USS Medregal and the research surface vessel USS Observation Island. He earned decorations for his leadership on the Observation Island, his supervision of the Vietnamese refugee program after the fall of Saigon, his management of the preparation for and ensuing recovery from Typhoon Pamela in the Marianas Islands, and for his command of the Naval Sea Support Center, Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia. Significant decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
Early in his naval career, Bill taught NROTC in Louisville, Kentucky where he met his wife Katherine in 1955. They were married the following year and were lifelong companions, having four sons and traveling the world with the Navy until they settled in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1976, where he retired from the Navy.
Captain Dotson continued to support the Navy’s mission in the private sector, applying his expertise to a variety of logistical and training projects. In his leisure time, he was an active Rotary Club member and bridge player and helped Katherine with her participation in weekend art festivals. Committed to the value of higher education, Bill took deep satisfaction in supporting the educational goals of his family and helped them earn undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In 2011, Bill and Katherine relocated to North Carolina to be near their family. Bill delighted in the company of his children and six grandchildren.
In addition to his wife, Katherine, he is survived by his sons, Mike, Jeff, Doug and Greg, their loving spouses, Patti, Maura, and Janine, and his grandchildren, Marli, Reed, Dahlia, Skyler, Julian and Bryce.
Services for Captain Dotson will be held in Arlington National Cemetery.