By Derek Maul
Raised in Grand Bend, Pennsylvania, where his parents owned a grocery business, William Templeman learned his way around a kitchen early.
“I naturally fell into making meals,” he said. “So when I went into the Navy that’s what I elected to do.”
After enlisting in 1947, Templeman’s first duty involved cooking for close to six thousand shore-bound sailors at Little Creek, Virginia.
“Then after two years, I was assigned to a small destroyer escort used to train frogmen,” he said. “We’d take them out on the Chesapeake, throw them overboard, pick them up and throw them over again.”
After re-enlisting, Templeman was chosen for instructors’ school and sent to “push boots” in Bainbridge, Maryland. Before long, he was assigned responsibility for the recruit band.
“We performed every Saturday for graduation,” he said. “And many of the small towns in the area asked us to play in parades.”
After ten years, rapid advancement, and experiences such as “chasing Soviet subs around the coast of Cuba,” Templeman left active duty as an E-6 (also known as Master-Chief or Petty Officer).
He settled in Tampa and attended school, eventually earning his degree as a member of the University of South Florida’s first – 1963 – graduating class.
Templeman taught seventh grade social studies in New Port Richey before being hired by WEDU television as an on-air geography teacher.
“It was a great experience, but I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet,” he said. “I worked on my masters degree in guidance and counseling, continued my military career in the Reserve, and umpired ball games almost every night of the week.”
In the Reserves, Templeman was selected for the “Blue and Gold” program, working closely with new recruits, especially those looking for nomination to the Naval Academy.
“Meanwhile I was still drilling as a supply officer,” he said. “I moved into the Warrant Officer track.”
By the time Templeman’s 36-year career concluded, he was a W-4, the senior Warrant Officer of his unit.
“My other title was ‘Sly Old Fox,’” he said.
In the school system, Templeman worked in guidance, first at Largo Junior High School and then Seminole Middle. He retired from Pinellas County with 29-years of experience.
But retirement simply meant more time to officiate numerous football, basketball, softball and baseball games.
Templeman, who has been married to the former Betty Lee going on 59 years, wore so many hats in his career he can’t begin to pick a favorite. But he is sure about his feelings regarding his service in uniform.
“I had good results with the military,” he said. “They treated me nice and I’d recommend it to anyone. I say give it your best shot. You may not have an easy time but it provides opportunities. You put that uniform on and you represent more than yourself, you represent a whole fleet, men and women, and your country.”