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William Low of East Patchogue: Army vet and Merchant Marine who worked at Pilgrim State

William A. Low Sr. with his wife, Carol,

William A. Low Sr. with his wife, Carol, and daughter, Jessie Maertz.  Credit: Low family

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, William Low was 15 and too young to enlist in the Army. As soon as he turned 18, he signed up. He was just wrapping up basic training when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, ending the war.

Although he was ready to fight, he never saw combat.

“He was typical of the World War II ‘Greatest Generation,’’’ his son-in-law, Robin Maertz, said. “There’s not many of those guys left.’’

William A. Low Sr., of East Patchogue, died on Easter Sunday, April 12, nine days after he turned 94. His daughter, Jessie Maertz, said he died from complications of the coronavirus.

Born in Dundee, Scotland, on April 3, 1926, Low came to the United States with his parents and brother as a child. He lived in Brooklyn and attended Fort Hamilton High School.

After his Army service, he joined the Merchant Marine, and it was while on duty working as a radio operator on a ship that he met his future wife, Carol. She had booked a ticket for a cruise, but the cruise fell through, and the company offered her the chance to go on a working ship instead. They were married in 1965.

While with the Merchant Marine in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, Low’s ship was hit by a bomb, his daughter said. The damage was minimal and everyone survived. After he left the Merchant Marine, he worked as an attendant at Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood until he retired in the late 1990s.

He was a voracious reader, and his daughter said he had been a Newsday subscriber from the time he was 18 and read the paper every day.

“He loved the crossword puzzles,’’ Jessie Maertz said.

Jessie Maertz described her father as physically and mentally strong, even at 94. And he was an animal lover, she said. She and her mother gave him a parrot that learned to call her mother’s name, and sounds like William when it does it.

“Sometimes it’s nice,’’ Jessie Maertz said. “Sometimes it’s sad.’’

He is survived by his wife; his daughter and her husband, of East Patchogue; his son, William A. Low Jr., and his wife, Shirley, of Medford; and his brother, David Low, and his wife, Ellen, of Staten Island.