William D. Houser, 90, a Navy vice admiral and veteran of three wars who became a telecommunications industry executive, died Feb. 5 at Sunrise at Fox Hill assisted-living in Bethesda. He had Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia.
The death was confirmed by a son-in-law, retired Navy Capt. Robert E. Riera Jr.
William Douglas Houser was an Atlanta native. At the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Adm. Houser was in the Class of 1942 and graduated early in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Pacific during World War II and participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal, Leyte and Luzon.
He commanded a fighter squadron during the Korean War and commanded a carrier division during the Vietnam War.
From 1972 to 1976, he was deputy chief of naval operations for air warfare — essentially, the head of naval aviation. The Pentagon announced his early retirement from the military following official chastisement for accepting an invitation to a hunting lodge from the defense contractor Northrop.
Adm. Houser was among 26 high-ranking officers from the Navy and Air Force and a dozen civilians admonished by the Defense Department for being entertained at the lodge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
After his military retirement, Adm. Houser worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Communications Satellite Corp. and Com21, among other businesses.
His military decorations included two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat V and the Air Medal. During his military career, he received a master’s degree from George Washington University in 1963 and completed an advanced management program at Harvard University.
His memberships included the Golden Eagles, an elite aviation organization, the Military Order of the Carabao and the Army Navy Country Club. He was a Middleburg resident.
His first wife, Betty Lou Worrell, died in 1997 after 51 years of marriage.
Survivors include his wife of eight years, Jan King Evans of Middleburg; three daughters from his first marriage, Cindy Riera of Edgewater, Gayle Fogleman of Alexandria and Francie Washington of Spicewood, Texas; two stepdaughters, Karla MacMahon of Middleburg and Louise Turner of Bern, Switzerland; 11 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.