WILLITS H. BOWDITCH
YORKTOWN - Willits H. Bowditch, founder of Bowditch Ford Inc. and a Peninsula
civic and business leader for decades, died Tuesday. He was 82.
Mr. Bowditch was a graduate of Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, Calif.,
and General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich. He worked for the public relations
office at General Motors from 1936 to 1939. He resigned his position as district
sales manager of the Chevrolet division at the outbreak of World War II and
joined the Navy.
He underwent training at the Naval Mine Warfare School in Yorktown in 1942
during which he met his future wife. He then served in the Pacific as an aide
and flag lieutenant to Adm. George Fort and later to Adm. Jerrauld Wright. He
resigned in 1946 as a lieutenant commander.
Mr. Bowditch served as president of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
from 1958 to 1960 and as president and director of the Virginia State Chamber of
Commerce from 1966 to 1968. He was chairman of the first Virginia Trade Mission
to Europe in 1967 seeking foreign trade and shipping. During that time he urged
the construction of a container port facility on the Peninsula to attract
He served on the boards of both the College of William and Mary and Mary Baldwin
College. He was on the board of directors of Signet Bank, formerly Bank of
Warwick, for more than 20 years. He was a former member of the Yorktown Trustees
and director of the Peninsula Industrial Committee.
Mr. Bowditch was a former director of Hornsby Oil Co., past director of the
National Automobile Dealers Association, past director of the Automotive Trade
Association and past president and director of the James River Country Club.
Mr. Bowditch was a past president and director of the Peninsula Art Association
and also was involved in the United Way, Volunteer Service Bureau and Multiple
Mr. Bowditch is survived by his wife, Marian Hornsby Bowditch; four sons and
daughter-in-laws, Willits Henry Bowditch Jr. and Merriel Bowditch of Newport
News, John Watts Bowditch and Peggy Bowditch of Gloucester, David Hornsby
Bowditch and Rene Bowditch of Williamsburg, and Phillip Marian Bowditch and Lee
Kelly Bowditch of Newport News; two sisters, Martha Wyle Kenworthy of Amherst,
Mass., and Elizabeth B. Bennett of Virginia Beach; four brothers, Robert Shaw
Bowditch of Worchester, Mass., Benson A. Bowditch of Amherst, John Bowditch of
Hanover, Mich., and James Bowditch of Maine; three granddaughters, Kathryn Fritz
Bowditch, Elizabeth Kelly Bowditch and Ashley Tilden Bowditch; five grandsons,
the late Leland Coffey Bowditch, Willits Henry Bowditch III, Sherwood Hornsby
Bowditch, Philip Gray Bowditch and David Roark Bowditch.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Grace Episcopal Church, Yorktown by
the Rev. Carleton E. Bakkum. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.
The family will receive friends at the residence in Yorktown Thursday, 6:30 -
Memorials donations may be made to The Watermen's Museum, P.O. Box 531,
Yorktown, VA 23690
Peninsula Funeral Home is in charge.
Published in the
Daily Press on 4/1419/94.