SDPD 04/04/1963 - 07/24/1967
10/11/1921- 09/14/2013
A self-described "stupid teenager" with a bad attitude, Warren Cormier dropped out of high school and joined the Navy as this country was poised to enter World War II. By the time he retired four decades later as a captain, the Del Cerro resident had earned a Ph.D., enjoyed a long career as an educator, and was a zealous volunteer for dozens of military and civilian organizations.

"Warren Cormier was a true American hero," said friend Col. Ronald Harris. "The things he went through in World War II and conflicts after that just set him apart from the everyday military person as well as the everyday citizen.

"He loved this country. He would do anything for it and wanted to make sure its ideals were perpetuated."

Capt. Cormier died of cardiac arrest Sept. 14 at his home. He was 91.

He was born Warren George Cormier on Oct. 11, 1921, in Sutton, Mass., to Albert Cormier and Ida Morris. Joining the Navy in 1940, he served in the Asiatic fleet and was stationed aboard the light cruiser Marblehead when it sustained heavy damage from a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Makassar Strait.

He was released from active duty in 1946, only to return in 1951 for the Korean War. He was executive officer of the Rexberg, operations officer of the Wilkinson, and mine warfare officer for the Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force.

Returning to the Navy Reserve in 1957, Capt. Cormier held many roles, including chief staff officer/operations officer of the 11th Naval District Reserve and chairman of the San Diego Navy Recruiting District Assistance Council. He retired in 1980 and in 1996 was named Honorary Admiral, U.S. Asiatic Fleet, by Secretary of the Navy John Dalton.

Along the way, the former high school dropout did an about face in his views on education. After earning his GED in the Navy, he obtained a bachelor's degree in business administration from California Western University, a master's in education from what was then San Diego State College, and a Ph.D. in leadership and human behavior from United States International University.

In civilian life, he was vice president of manufacturing and a director of Burnett Electronics Laboratory in San Diego. He also was a teacher, counselor and vice principal for 25 years at Midway Junior-Senior High, a continuation school for students with learning disabilities and behavior problems.

Capt. Cormier volunteered for more than 40 organizations, family said. He was a reserve police officer with the San Diego Police Department and an inspector with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

An ardent sports fan, he was a founding member of the Holiday Bowl Committee in 1978 and a hospitality host for years. He ensured that the coaches and administrators of visiting teams were greeted warmly and equipped with a suite and amenities to make their off-the-field stay in San Diego as pleasurable as possible.

"We are known as one of America's most hospitable bowl games," said Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the Holiday Bowl. "Warren really set the stage for that. He was one of the founding fathers of our hospitality history, an excellent ambassador."

Veterans groups were particularly dear to him. He co-founded and served for 15 years as chairman of the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Memorial Day Committee, was a World War II speaker aboard the USS Midway, and belonged to the La Jolla chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, the Reserve Officers' Association of the United States and the Naval Reserve Association.

"Warren never took on a cause that he didn't feel worthy," said Adm. Bruce Boland, who worked with him on saving Balboa Naval Hospital's historic chapel from demolition when the hospital closed in the 1980s. "He was a leader in so many things in this town, whether sports, military or fraternal organizations. He was always at the front leading."

Capt. Cormier is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Josephine Kostas; sister Lillian Sanders; daughters Michelle Locko and Maria Provencher; sons Greg Cormier, Michael Cormier and Russell Block; 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all of San Diego.
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