Edwin J. Roland, 80, a retired admiral who had served as Coast Guard commandant from 1962 to 1966 and as commandant of cadets at the Coast Guard Academy from 1950 to 1954, died March 16 at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., after a heart attack.
Adm. Roland, who lived in Old Lyme, Conn., was vactioning in Florida when he was stricken.
During his years as commandant, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his record in maintaining a readiness posture "unparalleled in the peacetime history of the Coast Guard" and the Distinguished Service Medal. He received the second medal largely for work the Coast Guard did in supplying men and small craft for operations in Southeast Asia.
Adm. Roland was a native of Buffalo, and a 1929 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn. He was captain of the academy football team. From 1929 to 1931, in addition to other duties, he was captain of the Coast Guard football team that won the 1931 President's Cup. Their adversaries were Army, Navy, and Marine Corps teams.
In the early 1930s, he was a gunnery officer aboard Coast Guard destroyers manning an antismuggling blockade. From 1934 to 1938, he served on the Coast Guard Academy faculty, teaching physics and mathematics and coaching football, basketball, and baseball.
During World War II, he commanded a division of destroyer escorts in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and commanded the cutter Mackinaw, the first heavy duty icebreaker ever built. Sailing the Great Lakes, it kept those water routes open for war supplies.
After the war, he graduated from the National War College. In 1956, he was promoted to rear admiral and became the Coast Guard's deputy chief of staff. He later commanded the First Coast Guard District in Boston and the Third Coast Guard District in New York City before becoming a vice admiral and assistant Coast Guard commandant in February 1962.
He became commandant and was advanced to full admiral later that year.
Survivors include his wife, the former Jane Dare Fitch, of Old Lyme; two sons, Edwin John Jr., of Chicago, and Coast Guard Capt. William Fitch Roland, who is stationed in Honolulu; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.