Thomas J. Bigley, Navy admiral

February 27, 2014

Thomas J. Bigley, a retired Navy vice admiral who held top planning and logistics jobs with the Navy and was commander of the U.S. Second Fleet, died Jan. 27 at Falcons Landing, a military retirement community in Potomac Falls, Va. He was 86.

He had complications from pneumonia, his daughter Ann Bigley Robertson said.

Adm. Bigley enlisted in the Navy in 1945 and later received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He graduated in 1950.

He was a submarine officer early in his career, including an assignment as commanding officer of the USS Bream.

From 1965 to 1967, he served as an aide to the chief of naval operations, Adm. David L. McDonald. Adm. Bigley was commanding officer of the USS Sampson, a guided-missile destroyer based in the Mediterranean, from 1968 to 1970.

After his promotion to rear admiral in 1972, Adm. Bigley was based in Bahrain as commander of Middle East Forces in the Persian Gulf. Later, as a vice admiral, he was deputy commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet from 1976 to 1978 and commander of the Second Fleet and NATO's Striking Fleet Atlantic from 1979 to 1981.

Adm. Bigley’s final assignment was as director for plans and policy of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired as a three-star admiral in 1983. His decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit and the Navy Commendation Medal.

After his military retirement, Adm. Bigley served as vice president of Navy programs with Burdeshaw Associates, a consulting company. He later held executive and management positions in the Washington office of Eastman Kodak. He retired in 1994.

Thomas Joseph Bigley was born in Everett, Mass. In addition to his degree from Naval Academy, he received a master’s degree in 1965 from American University’s School of International Service.

Adm. Bigley lived in Vienna, Va., for many years and was a member of several military and professional organizations. He served as president of the American Bahraini Friendship Society and was a director emeritus of the D.C. chapter of the Navy League of the United States.

His first wife, Ann Harrington Bigley, died in 2000 after 49 years of marriage.

Survivors include his wife of 11 years, Bela Block Bigley of Potomac Falls; three daughters from his first marriage, Ann Bigley Robertson of McLean, Va., and Mary Bigley Jones and Katherine Bigley Christie, both of Potomac Falls; a sister; and five grandchildren.

— Matt Schudel

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