USS Cleveland CL-55 Reunion Association

Bert O. Bishop

My dad, Bert Bishop, received information about your next reunion to be held October 6 - 11, 2009 in Grapevine, Texas. My parents both loved attending Navy reunions and they both enjoyed making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. I wanted to let you know that my mom died in 2006 and my dad died February 25 of this year. I don't know if you have a newsletter or not, but if you do, I'm submitting information on his death so it can be included.

Bert O. Bishop of Elizabethtown, IL, was born August 21, 1917 and died on Ash Wednesday, February, 25, 2009. At his request he was buried in his Navy uniform, which still fit him perfectly. He was preceded in death by one grandchild, Andy Weidner, on August 1, 2002 and by his wife Vera on Sept. 19, 2006. He is survived by 4 children, Sharon, Donald, Lauren, and Joanie, 3 special friends, Kim and Armando Olivares and Don Holbrook, 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He was part of America’s greatest generation, those who came of age in the great depression and served with pride and determination to define the outcome of the Second World War. When the war was over, they returned to the United States to transport our nation to the pinnacle of civilization with unprecedented economic growth, exponential scientific discovery and the baby boom of which his children were born.

Forced to quit school at 14 by the Southern Illinois economy of 1931, he worked for a dollar a day as his family struggled with the harsh realities of life. The opportunity to join the Army in 1935 provided income for his family that had not previously been possible. In 1939 he chose to transfer to the Navy where he stayed for the next 17 years. He served as a boilerman on the USS Cleveland, the second ship he was assigned to (I think either 1942 or 1943). He earned his GED while hospitalized after he left the Cleveland and went to college when he got out of the military becoming a teacher who encouraged his students to excel and to follow their dreams. On his 90th birthday he received over 200 birthday cards from former students, an amazing number for a teacher who taught in a tiny rural school.

Our own education from our father was a tapestry of horses, conversations about personal responsibility and personal privilege, and endless examples of how to live a life based on values instead of feelings. His was, indeed, a life of personal sacrifice, patriotism, and practical Christianity, and we were fortunate to have his example. He was typical of his generation in that he made the sacrifices and provided the emotional and financial support to insure that his children’s professional accomplishments eclipsed his own.