WILLIAM S. VAN NATTA
July 6, 1955 ˜ December 10, 2021
William S. Van Natta (Wil), 66, died Dec. 10, 2021, in San Diego, CA.
He was born July 6, 1955. in Bayonne, NJ. to Helen and William S. Van Natta, the second of their four children.
Wil’s early years were spent in New Jersey. In 1962, the family relocated to Vancouver, WA. The summer of 1962, Wil discovered his true passion, the water, when he learned to swim at Lakeshore Athletic Club. He went on to win numerous freestyle swimming races during his youth; he was particularly competitive at longer distances including 1650 yards.
In 1973, Wil graduated from Columbia River High School. He then attended the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle, finishing in the top 10% of his commercial oilfield diving class. He went on to work as a diver in Europe and the Middle East, traveling through those areas for work and pleasure.
In 1992, Wil began his second career as an ocean lifeguard for Palm Beach County, FL. He was recognized as one of the most capable lifeguards on the Palm Beach County beach patrol and saved numerous lives over a 20-year career.
He exceeded the physical requirements for beach lifeguards until retirement at age 59 routinely outperforming far younger individuals.
An expert sailor and graduate of the Captain’s Boating Class, Wil skippered The Caitlin, a 32-foot sloop, on numerous long-distance sails throughout the Caribbean, including to Cuba and the Bahamas. He also volunteered as a water safety instructor working with at-risk youth in Palm Beach County.
Wil’s other passion was politics. He was deeply committed to progressive causes, especially the Peace Movement. For a number of years, he hosted a radio program in South Florida called “Reality News” that featured interviews with prominent guests on a range of contemporary topics. A highlight of these years was accompanying former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark on a fact finding tour of Iraq.
In 2017, Wil moved from Florida to San Diego so he could skipper the peace boat, The Golden Rule, a historic 32-foot ketch. A project of the organization Veterans for Peace, the ketch helps educate the public about the possibility of a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future. Wil especially enjoyed working with groups of school children that visited The Golden Rule. In the final years of his life, he also worked on the Veterans for Peace National Deported Veterans Advocacy Program in Tijuana, Mexico. He had a heart for service.
Wil is survived by his siblings, Carol (Bob Burdick), Jim (Teresa) and Jon (Terri Scheel); by numerous nieces and nephews; and by his many friends in the Peace Movement in Florida and California. At a future date, there will be a Sailors Burial at Sea Ceremony in San Diego and his ashes will be spread in the Pacific Ocean.
Please make gifts in Wil’s memory to Veterans for Peace, 3407 S. Jefferson Street #219, Saint Louis, MO 63118.
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Published by The Columbian on Jan. 2, 2022.