Baron Fieldhouse, Britain's former top naval officer and a frequent visitor to the Suncoast, died Monday (Feb. 17, 1992) in a London hospital. He was 64.
As Adm. Sir John Fieldhouse, he commanded the British battle fleet that sailed to retake the Falkland Islands from invading Argentine forces in 1982. A few months after the British victory, he was a guest in St. Petersburg of construction executive BillMills Jr.
During a July vacation in England after the victory, Mills invited Lord and Lady Fieldhouse to the Suncoast for a holiday. They spent a week in November with Mills, a former officer at Federal Construction Co., and were guests of honor at a black-tie dinner at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
Lord Fieldhouse returned to England to accept Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's nomination as First Sea Lord of Great Britain and later as chief of the Defense Staff, the equivalent of the U.S. post of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Monday, Mrs. Thatcher, prime minister during the Falklands campaign, paid tribute to him as "a great leader." She added: "Thecountry owes a very great deal to him for the way in which the recovery of the Falklands was conducted."
"He was a fantastic guy," Mills said in recalling his friendship with the onetime skipper of the Dreadnought, Britain's first nuclear submarine. For a half dozen years, Lord Fieldhouse frequently visited the Suncoast, Mills said.
Sometimes the admiral stayed at a condo he and Mills owned together at Englewood Beach. On other occasions, he vacationed at Mills' home on Useppa Island, south of Boca Grande.
After completing his tour as chief of Britain's Defense Staff, Lord Fieldhouse headed a military committee at NATO until stricken by an aneurysm that led to his retirement, Mills said.
_ Information in this obituary came from Reuters and from stories by John Costa and Mary Evertz in the St. Petersburg Times.