Gregory Thomas Sheridan (SHS '47)

The Scarsdale Alumni Association regrets to inform the passing of Gregory Thomas Sheridan (SHS '47). Greg died at his and his wife Sandra’s home in Lynnwood, Washington on June 26th 2019.  He is survived by his wife, one sister, three children, three step-children, two grandchildren, and nine step-grandchildren; two sisters and a grandson predeceased him.

Greg was born on July 31, 1929, in New York City to Marie Gregoire Sheridan and Joseph Peter Sheridan, Jr., and raised in Scarsdale, New York.  His mother, a dental hygienist, was born in Pont-de-Briques, Normandy, France, and raised in Ireland.  His father was raised in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, and became Superintendent of Claims for the Aetna insurance company.

Greg graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1947, where he was on the varsity track team and held two Westchester County records; he was an Eagle Boy Scout.  He attended Princeton on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship; he contracted polio on his midshipman cruise.  Though a lifelong runner, he never fully recovered, but was briefly on the 150-pound football team until he returned to his normal weight.  He was a psychology major and roomed with Walter Kissinger.

After graduating from Princeton he volunteered to serve in the Marines instead of the Navy, and within a few months was sent to Korea.  He saw hard combat as a rifle platoon leader and company commander in Able Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division, primarily around the East Berlin and New Bunker outposts.  Greg’s proudest boast was that none of the men under his command were killed during his two tours of duty; he was recalled to the same platoon soon after being rotated out, after his successor was killed in action.  Some of his combat service is recorded (for legal reasons under the name Virgil Buell) in the book The Last Parallel, by Martin Russ, who served in his platoon.  It was a New York Times bestseller and a Book of the Month Club selection; J.D. Salinger called it “a very legitimate, sinewy, authentic war book.”  During one attack on a Chinese outpost against daunting odds, the lead platoon, commanded by James P. Dugan, a future Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, suffered heavy casualties.  Greg’s platoon came to the rescue and saved the lives of a large number of men, including Lieutenant Dugan, who was wounded and evacuated.  

Some of his less reputable, ecologically unsound, non-combat escapades in the Marine Corps were chronicled in Korea Revisited by Jeremy Charles McCamic, including the burial at sea, before they shipped out from Camp Pendleton, of Greg’s 12-cylinder 1941 Lincoln-Zephyr.

After the Armistice, Greg fought on the regimental boxing team.  After his discharge in San Francisco, he worked briefly as a prize-fighter, first under the name “Killer Sheridan,” and then (at his insistence) “Grunting Greg the Galloping Great.”  Greg had other employment unusual for a Princeton graduate throughout his career, including agriculture, private security, and newspaper delivery; but most of his time was in the computer industry, especially defense. 

He briefly worked for IBM during its period of unlimited money and resources; IBM thought he had a promising future due to his record-high aptitude test score.  But the corporate culture “at that time was like going to Basic School all over again”; the straw that broke the camel’s back was being reprimanded for wearing a collar pin and argyle socks with his suit and tie.  He later worked for RCA’s computer systems division, and for the Social Security Administration, where he led the automation of its payroll system.  At a time when racial discrimination in the District of Columbia was still quite open, he was proud to have promoted several able black employees.

He entered the defense industry as a technical writer, becoming the principal documenter of NWSS (which stands for the Navy WWMCCS Standard Software, where WWMCCS stands for Worldwide Military Command and Control System).  He was sent around the world to lecture on NWSS, surfing in Hawaii between lectures and then continuing to the Philippines.  The Defense Department eventually realized that it would be cheaper to send videotapes; unfortunately, during the taping of his lectures, he broke his arm (while climbing a fence to enter a secure area after hours), grew a beard, and then shaved his head.  Since the lectures were filmed out of sequence, this caused viewers considerable puzzlement about changes in his appearance.  He later worked in aspects of anti-submarine warfare which were too classified for him to talk about, and ended up working for Raytheon, from which he retired in 1996.  He could (and near the end of his life frequently did) recite large parts of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the entirety of the Gettysburg Address.

Greg died at his and his wife Sandra’s home in Lynnwood, Washington on June 26th 2019.  He is survived by his wife, one sister, three children, three step-children, two grandchildren, and nine step-grandchildren; two sisters and a grandson predeceased him.