Navy Adm. Donald Pilling, 64; President of Consulting Firm

Donald Lee Pilling, a retired four-star admiral, was known in the Navy for his intellectual abilities.
Donald Lee Pilling, a retired four-star admiral, was known in the Navy for his intellectual abilities. (Courtesy Of U.s. Navy - Courtesy Of U.s. Navy)
  Enlarge Photo    
Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Donald Lee Pilling, 64, a retired Navy four-star admiral who later became president and chief executive of the consulting firm LMI, died May 26 of leukemia at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He was a Vienna resident.

Adm. Pilling, who was known in the Navy for his intellectual abilities, was born in Bayside, N.Y. He graduated fourth in his Naval Academy class of 1965 and became one of the school's first Trident Scholars. His research dealt with the abstractions of partially ordered systems, which he studied under his mentor and lifelong friend, James Abbott, a professor.

He received a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1970, with a dissertation titled "The Algebra of Operators for Regular Events." He published articles in mathematical and professional journals throughout his life.

His sea duty was spent mostly in small ships, and he was commander of the destroyer USS Dahlgren and later Destroyer Squadron 26. As a flag officer, he commanded Cruiser Group 12 of the USS Saratoga battle group and later the U.S. Sixth Fleet/Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe, based in Naples.

In 1985, he received a fellowship to the Brookings Institution, where he studied defense acquisition and national security issues. He also served as a member of the National Security Council staff of President George H.W. Bush.

He served four tours on the Navy staff and in 1997 became the Navy's 30th vice chief of naval operations. He retired in 2000.

In 2002, he joined McLean-based LMI, which works with government agencies on logistics and other areas of public management. During his tenure, the company grew to $160 million from $100 million. He established several programs, including backup child and elder care and expanded parental leave, which contributed to LMI's selection as one of Washingtonian magazine's "Best Places to Work" in 2005 and 2007.

He was a member of the Defense Science Board, the White House Fellows Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

A dedicated runner, he often led groups on early morning runs in Northern Virginia and the District.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Barbara Orbon Pilling of Vienna; two daughters, Kathleen Pilling Posivak of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and Jennifer Pilling Stopkey of Richmond; a sister; a brother; and four grandsons.

-- Joe Holley

© 2008 The Washington Post Company