William E. Fears

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William E. Fears
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
January 12, 1972 – January 8, 1992
Preceded by William H. Hodges
Succeeded by Tommy Norment
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 10, 1968 – January 12, 1972
Preceded by E. Almer Ames Jr.
Succeeded by Hunter B. Andrews
Personal details
Born William Earl Fears
(1920-09-28)September 28, 1920
Jonesboro, Arkansas, U.S.
Died August 25, 2008(2008-08-25) (aged 87)
Onancock, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Belle DeCormis
Alma mater Yale University (B.A.)
University of Cincinnati (J.D.)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1945
Unit U.S. Army Air Forces
Battles/wars World War II

William Earl Fears (September 28, 1920 – August 25, 2008) was a long-serving Democratic member of the Senate of Virginia from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Early life and career[edit]

Fears was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas on September 28, 1920. He left home at the age of 13 to live with relatives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in New York.[1] In 1943, Fears earned a bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering at Yale University. He served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He saw combat as a lieutenant in the 92nd Bombardment Group based in England. After military service, Fears earned a law degree from the University of Cincinnati. He practiced law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York City before relocating to Accomac, Virginia on Virginia's Eastern Shore in 1950, where he practiced law for 50 years.

Political career[edit]

Fears served as Commonwealth's Attorney for Accomac County, Virginia until his election to the Virginia Senate in 1967. He defeated incumbent Senator E. Almer Ames, Jr. "a Byrd Organization stalwart"[2] to secure the Democratic nomination and was subsequently elected to represent the 1st District.

In 1971, the Virginia General Assembly was redistricted and Senator Fears' home in Accomac County was placed in the 3rd District which included part of the Virginia Peninsula in addition to the Eastern Shore counties of Accomac and Northampton. He was re-elected to the Senate throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991, the 3rd District was redrawn to include more Republican-leaning territory on the Virginia Peninsula. During the legislative session that year, Fears spoke against increasing penalties for drunk driving, saying, "We're going to take all the sport out of drinking and driving."[2] That November, Fears was defeated for reelection by Republican Tommy Norment.


Fears died August 25, 2008.


  1. ^ Virginia Senate Joint Resolution No. 389, Celebrating the life of William E. Fears. Agreed to by the Senate, January 29, 2009; Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 20, 2009
  2. ^ a b Robertson, Ellen. Outspoken former senator William E. Fears dies at 87. Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 28, 2008