RADM Joseph F. Quilter was born on Good Friday, March 29, 1907, in Binghamton, New York, the oldest of eight children.
As a youth, he developed a passion for flying, and entered the Naval Academy in 1924. He graduated in 1928. After earning his wings in 1930, "Slim" Quilter flew open cockpit Vought biplanes, which were designed to be catapulted from a ship and land in the water.
From 1931 to 1936 he served aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31), often used by President Roosevelt during WWII. From 1933 to 1936, the Augusta served on the "China Station," showing the U.S. flag throughout the Pacific and Orient.
In 1934, a legend was born in Sydney, Australia, when Lieutenant Quilter flew under the newly built bridge across Sydney harbor. He made the trip not once, but twice, before being called to account by then Captain Chester Nimitz, commanding officer of the Augusta.
In 1936, Lieutenant Quilter married Adrienne Balch of Hawaii in Manila. They had two children. He spent most of World War II in Washington helping design and supervise construction of aircraft carriers.
In 1945, Commander Quilter commissioned the new aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La (CV-38), and subsequently served as the ship's executive officer. He saw his only action in the bitter Okinawa campaign against suicide kamikaze attackers, where he was awarded the Bronze Star.
He also served aboard the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) and with Com Fleet Air Wing One and Fleet Air Wing Guam.
In a later assignment, he was a senior naval observer of the atomic bomb tests at Bikini.
Captain Quilter was Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, from 1949 to 1952.
From 1952 to 1953, Captain Quilter commanded the seaplane tender USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13), which was home ship to the Navy's flying boat patrol bomber operations along the Korean coast.
RADM Quilter retired in 1954 after 30 years in the Navy. He went on to receive an MBA from Stanford University, after which he joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, where he worked until1968.
His first wife, Adrienne, died in 1974. He later married Phyllis Blum, widow of the late Frank Blum.
RADM Quilter suffered a stroke at his Portola Valley, California, home on June 7, 2000, and died later that morning at Stanford University Hospital. He was 93.
Memorial services were held on June 16, 2000, in Stanford Memorial Church.
RADM Quilter is survived by his wife, Phyllis Blum Quilter; a brother, Brendan Quilter of Ann Arbor, Michigan; sisters Patricia Quilter of Binghamton, New York, and Frances Quilter Donovan of Montrose, Pennsylvania; a son, John F. Quilter of Brisbane, California; a daughter, Jane Quilter Kennedy of San Francisco; a granddaughter, Susannah Kennedy Poppensieker of Hamburg, Germany; and two great-grandsons.