Edward Lange { 1923 – 2013 }

USNA ’46

Joining USNA Out in December 2011 at the age of 87, Edward’s first question for USNA Out was “I Would like to hear about graduates of my era, how they managed, etc.” Other graduates of his era? We didn’t have much to tell Edward other than he’s the trailblazer for his era, and that he had graduated three years before our next oldest member.

Midn Edward Lange
Midn Edward Lange

The 1946 Lucky Bag described Edward as “Genial and easy-going. Ed never let the wear and tear of the system get him down. Perennially staring in academics, he spent most of his time showing the rest of us how to unravel the latest mystery dreamed up by the heartless Math profs. The stork dropped Ed in Mount Vernon, Washington, and he never let you forget it. For three years he was considerably worried over the wholesale marriage mortality among his West Coast girlfriends. Guess they just don’t grow them pretty enough our East. Well, that’s Ed, smart, even tempered, full of fun – what a bargain.”

Edward initially join USNA Out as a member hidden on our roster. As he wrote “I like to use my real name, but I also don’t like to expose my writing to the whole internet.  Sooner or later someone local will run into it. I know my family knows I am gay, and they all knew and liked my partner.  Except that we never once talked about it.  My attitude had always been not to shove it in anyone’s face who might not accept the idea.  That’s how we existed all these years.

Three months of pondering later, Edward wrote us back with “After some thought, I decided I will join USNA Out as an ‘OUT’ member and enjoy my status as the oldest member, then we will see how long it takes for someone to beat me.” Well, so far, no LGBT alumnus has beaten Edward. So far.

From Edward:

I have wanted to tell my story for a long time. I just now ran into USNAOut.org by chance while cruising the internet, and think I found the place to tell it.

When I graduated in 1945, (the class of ’46 graduated in ’45) I didn’t know I was gay. I may have had some early boy-to-boy experiences, but I thought nothing of them.

Ensign Lange when Commanding Officer of YMS 302
Ensign Lange when Commanding Officer of YMS 302

After a brief war-time period, during which I managed to reach Tokyo Bay for the surrender on September 2, 1945, I returned to the United States to an assortment of assignments as a result of the change from war to peace. During this period, I did find out I was gay and had a few experiences.

My last naval assignment was as one of the communications officers on an admiral’s staff in Charleston, South Carolina. A LTJG aide to the Admiral became a good friend, and was, incidentally, engaged to the admiral’s daughter. She was active in the Dock Street Theater, and the three of us would hang out during rehearsals and such.

We men were out on fleet maneuvers and moored one night in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where the admiral and his staff were guests of a local group for a cocktail affair. After a few drinks, Bill (the JG) and I left together to return to our ship.

We were alone in the cabin of the Admiral’s barge when we took off, with two or three seamen outside handling the boat. Bill sat next to me, threw his arm over my shoulder and started talking. With his face close to mine, I moved forward and kissed him. I blame the alcohol.

His reaction was overwhelming. He got excited and couldn’t contain himself for the arousal I created in him. I was scared shitless by what I had done and spent some time that night satisfying him and calming him down. I discouraged more private contact and managed to keep everything sort of under control.

Then (I did mention that he was engaged) the wedding day arrived. I was one of the wedding party. We had swords to make the archway out of the church, and there was a reception at the Officers’ Club with music.

When I danced with the bride, she said Bill had told her all about himself and me, but she thought that sort of thing did not matter. She had studied in Paris for one or two years which may have broadened her mind.

Then and there I decided I had to get out of the Navy at once. In 1948 when this happened, the Army and Navy were actively looking for homosexuals to clear such perverts out of the services.

I had served three years, and at that time, we had no obligation to serve any required number of years. I wrote my letter of resignation to the Secretary of the Navy, I think it was, and after the Chief of Staff and the Admiral both spent some time urging me to change my mind, I stuck with my story, and succeeded.

The letter made its way through the channels. I had trouble making up good reasons to leave the Navy, all of which were untrue. I liked the Navy and could have enjoyed a life-time career if not for this problem.

Edward Lange with his partner Bob Slack enjoying a visit to the Great Wall of China
Edward Lange with his partner Bob Slack enjoying a visit to the Great Wall of China

My career after the Navy was as an electrical engineer with a major elevator company. I specialized in odd and specialized applications. I worked on automated warehousing, parking garages, hospital delivery of food and linens, shipboard elevators, and rocket and space launching pads for NASA. I first used computers, DEC’s, in 1974 to control equipment which would interface with the elevator. Computers did not control the elevators until years later.

Edward Lange '46 in 2012
Edward Lange ’46 in 2012

I lived in New York City for 45 years with my partner, who died fifteen years ago. He was somewhat older than I. We traveled extensively throughout the world during our vacations, owned a beach house on Fire Island, subscribed to the opera, philharmonic orchestra, and saw most of the good shows on Broadway.

I am 88 years old as I write this. I am living in a retirement home for independent living where meals and local transportation are furnished.

I moved west to be close to my birth family. I have a sister, nieces and nephews, and many cousins in the area. Old age can be awkward for gay men. Most of my close friends have died. My nephew is watching out for me. He will take over if and when I can’t make my own decisions. Life goes on like that———–

Edward passed away on February 1, 2013, in Mount Vernon, Washington, where he had been originally dropped by the stork. His obituary in the Skagit Valley Herald made no mention of his partner of 45 years who had preceded him in death, but his obituary published in the Shipmate magazine did.


USNA Out in Memoriam

USNA Out ceased operations in 2022. This website has been archived for historical purposes.

USNA Pride, a Shared Interest Group of the US Naval Academy Alumni Association, now serves the community of proud LGBTQ+ and allied alumni.

©2003-2022;   USNA Out, all rights reserved.
an independent 501(c)(3) Maryland Benefit Corporation and does not represent the US Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation or the US Naval Academy