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MA veteran, 90, laid to rest on Veterans Day

A 1st Theater Sustainment Command Soldier presents a folded American flag to a family member of a deceased service member, Nov. 5, 2018. (Sgt. Kayla Benson/U.S. Army)

U.S. Navy veteran Stewart “Skip” Chapman was a man dedicated to his family and to his country, and both paid their final respects to him on Veterans Day.

Chapman, 90, was born in Detroit and served as a Navy radioman on the USS Chopper and the USS Sea Poacher during the Korean War.

But it was during leave in New York City that he met his future wife, Mary, at a birthday party in 1954. The two kept in touch via mail and were married in 1955.

The Chapmans would have four daughters while living in Michigan and eventually moved to Amesbury in 1980, where Skip became a real estate agent.

Maryann Whalley is Chapman’s first-born daughter.

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“They bought a six-bedroom Victorian home that my father redid himself,” Whalley said. “It was a handyman special type thing.”

Skip kept in touch with his Navy buddies and loved to tell his family about his time in the service.

“He always told us about his Navy days and going underwater and where they went,” Whalley said. “He had an audience with the Pope Pius XII, and he wasn’t Catholic at that time.”

Whalley also said her father was very patriotic and raised his family, which included 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, to be the same.

“My husband was in the submarine service also,” Whalley said.

“They loved to swap stories. My father was, of course, on a diesel submarine and my husband was on a nuclear submarine.”

Chapman, however, died of natural causes Nov. 6 and it was while celebrating his funeral Mass at Holy Family Parish on Monday that the city’s annual Veterans Day parade just happened to be passing by on School Street.

Just as his time in the Navy took Chapman to many exotic points of call and also led him to meet his wife and raise his family, it also provided an unknown mourner on the day of his funeral.

“There was a veteran who was watching the parade passing by,” Whalley said. “He came into the service, one vet to another. This was not planned but, with many things that my father was involved with, it just worked out that way. That was kind of nice, considering how patriotic my dad was.”

The veteran never left his name or the details of his own military service, but he stayed for the funeral Mass and Chapman’s family appreciated the visit.

“We don’t know his name or anything about him but that he was outside and came in,” Whalley said. “He heard that there was a veteran who had passed and there was a service going on.”

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© 2019 The Daily News of Newburyport