From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Roy Ference '55

Date of birth: August 3, 1932

Date of death: August 26, 1972

Age: 40

Naval Academy Register

Roy Stephens Ference was admitted to the Naval Academy from the Marine Corps Reserve on July 25, 1951 at age 19 years 0 months.

He "voluntarily resigned" on November 18, 1952.


From an obituary in "The Sunday Star (The Daily News)," Washington, D.C. on September 3, 1972, provided in an email from Mary "Pinky" Palladino, widow of Norman K. Palladino '55, on November 5, 2017:

Roy Ference, 40, an Agriculture Department land reform advisor in South Vietnam, was killed in a plane crash August 26 near Pleiku.

Mr. Ference was the only American along eight passengers who died on the flight from Saigon to Pleiku, where he coordinated training at the National Montagnard Training Center.

The Agriculture Department said the accident is being investigated.

Mr. Ference had served in Vietnam since January 1971 on a team advising the Saigon government on its Land-to-the-Tiller Program. He was an employee of the Agriculture Department's Extension Service, which coordinates land reform advisory programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Before joining the USDA, Mr. Ference served with the Civil Service Commission here. He also worked with the departments of State and Labor and at one time was the American vice consul in Lyon, France.

Secretary of Agriculture Earl L. Butz said Mr. Ference "performed outstanding work in the most humanitarian task. His efforts on behalf of the people of south Vietnam represented the finest expression of genuine good will of the American people… Roy served his country with the highest standard of heroism and professional excellence."

Mr. Ference was active in a program to train some 5,000 village and provincial personnel and techniques of land distribution, aerial photography, ownership investigation and compensation. He was highly rated for his work in coordinating the training program at the Pleiku Montagnard Training Center and had been awarded the Director General of Land Affairs Certificate of Commendation and a medal from the Ministry of Ethnic Minorities.

Mr. Ference, and the love of Indiana, received his bachelors degree from Indiana University in 1954 and studied international relations at American University.

He attended the US Naval Academy in 1951–52.

While stationed in the Washington area, Mr. Ference lived in Falls Church.

He leaves his wife, Jeanne, and three daughters who are living in Bangkok, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Steven Ference of Gary, Indiana.

He is buried in Virginia with this inscription: "Beloved Husband And Father, Roy S. Ference, Aug. 3, 1932 - Aug. 26, 1972"

Prior Service and the Naval Academy

Roy's enlistment photograph.

Roy is not listed on the 1955 Lucky Bag's In Memoriam page.

His full service record is available offline. (Thanks to Mary Schantag of the POW Network, who made the FOIA request and scanned the response.)

Roy's middle name is Stephens—this is what appears most often—though he signed it at least once, clearly, as Stephen. Other official forms have it as "Stephen", "Stephens", "Stephan", or "Stephans".

He attended the University of Chicago for 2.5 years before leaving to join the Marine Corps Reserve on December 7, 1949. He signed a two-year enlistment contract and entered the service in Chicago. He attended high school in Gary, Indiana, also for 2.5 years, and also did not graduate. He left high school in 1947.

Roy took the oath of office as a midshipman on July 25, 1951. He stood 334th of 914 members of the class at the end of his first year (1952 academic year). He "voluntarily resigned" on November 18, 1952.


Perhaps listed and on page 469 of that document, which reads: "Ference, Roy S. (R-8) FSI ……… Aug. 2, 56". Section of document is "Personnel assigned to the department." FSI appears to be "Foreign Service Institute"; timing would imply he was new to the service.

"Mr. Roy Ference" is cited in several different papers published in 1971. In all cases he is in "Room 2311, U.S. Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C. 20415"

His father's obituary:

Stephen J. Ference Stephen J. Ference, 87, of Palm Bay, Florida, and formerly of Gary, passed away on Thursday, May 4, 1995. He was a former member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Gary. A retired assistant Post Master; also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of World War II. He was preceded in death by his two sons, Guy and Roy. Survived by wife, Ann Ference of Palm Bay, Florida; son, Darrell Ference of Islamorasa, FL.; daughter, Norma Ference of San Francisco, California; seven grandchildren and one great grandson; one brother, Andrew Ference of Anaheim California. There will be no visitation. A committal service will be offered on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Calumet Park Cemetery Mausoleum in Merrillville, Indiana. Arrangements were completed by the Stilinovich & Wiatrolik Funeral Directors.

Swapped Facebook messages with Roy's sister, Norma, in late November/early December 2016. Roy was married to Jane, and had daughters Lisa Smith, Stephanie Ference, and at least one more child (a youngest daughter, unidentified). Emailed daughters in early December; nothing heard. Messaged Norma again 2017.02.05 with more questions. Emailed daughters and messaged Norma once more on 2017.06.08; provided scanned copy of his records.

Class of 1955

Roy is one of 34 members of the Class of 1955 on Virtual Memorial Hall.