William Gray Warden III, 82, of Newtown Square, a business executive and sailor, died Wednesday, March 18, of causes related to aging at his second home in the Bahamas.
A native of Haverford, Delaware County, Mr. Warden graduated from the Haverford School in 1950. While there, he played soccer and ran track.
Four years later, Mr. Warden graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He became a pilot and flew early-generation single-engine jets. He was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.
After his military service, Mr. Warden joined Superior Tube Co., the Norristown firm his father, Clarence A. Warden Jr., and grandfather had founded in 1934. It was known as the manufacturer "for fine small tubing."
That tubing was used in some historical firsts, according to the company's online history: the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered vessel; the Bell X-1, in which pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier; and the Apollo Project, which put the first man on the moon.
Beginning in 1956, Mr. Warden worked in a number of positions at the firm, eventually becoming chairman of Superior Group Inc., the successor entity to Superior Tube. He retired in 1996.
Superior Group is located in West Conshohocken and run by his son William G. Warden IV.
Mr. Warden served as a trustee of Ursinus College, the Haverford School, the Baldwin School, Independence Seaport Museum, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Academy of Vocal Arts on Spruce Street in Philadelphia. The academy was founded by his grandmother Helen Corning Warden in 1934.
Perhaps Mr. Warden's most notable passion was sailing and the sea; racing and cruising were an important element of his life. "My father was one of the best prepared and most capable offshore sailors most people have ever been offshore with," said his son Jeffrey C. Warden.
Mr. Warden was a commodore of the Cruising Club of America's Chesapeake Station, commodore of the Corinthian Yacht Club, and was a member of the New Bedford Yacht Club in Dartmouth, Mass., and the Hopetown Yacht Club in the Bahamas. He also belonged to the Radnor Hunt Club and Aronimink Golf Club.
In addition to his two sons, he is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Green Warden; a daughter, Catherine W. Elkins; another son, Richard A.; and 11 grandchildren.
A life celebration will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, at the Church of the Good Samaritan, 212 W. Lancaster Ave., Paoli. Interment is private.