William Ernest “Bill” Ferrand, 71, died on 12 October 2021 in Reno, Nevada. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 September 1950 to Adam Ernest and Frances Ann (Crowell) Ferrand.
As a toddler, Bill said “beep” to clear his path so often that his older brother, Steven, began calling him Beep. Other nicknames that followed Bill through life included Billy, Fearless, and Wildman.
Bill was raised in Las Vegas. He graduated from Clark High School in 1968 after being selected 1st Team All-Conference/ 1st Team All-State Defensive Halfback in 1967. He joined the U. S. Navy in May 1969. He graduated Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (class 56) on 26 June 1970. He served in SEAL Team One; Naval Special Warfare Group One; Western Pacific Detachment; Underwater Demolition Team 12; SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One; and the Naval Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU). He retired with the rank of Master Chief in September 1991.
Bill then attended Humboldt State University where he graduated with a BS in Biology and a minor in Botany. He became a wildlife biologist and started Western Biological Consulting in 2002.
Bill was passionate about social justice, the environment, politics, and science. He loved war movies and romantic comedies. He loved racing motorcycles and playing chess. He piloted SDVs (manned submersibles) and performed HALO jumps. He made diving history with the NEDU Fly-Away Diving Team. He won Texas Hold’Em tournaments in Las Vegas. He loved cold nights, warm sleeping bags, adult beverages, and marathon chats on the phone.
He loved his SEAL Team brothers, his extended family of friends, wonder dog Jessica, and macaws Mickey and Bobber. He loved his mom.
Bill had a huge heart. He went out of his way to help where it was needed. He was endearing and exasperating. He was sensitive and stubborn. He was loyal. He was loved and he will be missed.
Dr. Frank Butler, CAPT, Medical Corps, USN (retired), said the following of Bill: “He was one of the most knowledgeable members of the SEAL community with respect to diving technology. His outstanding leadership in the SPECWAR dive locker at the Navy Experimental Diving helped support research efforts at that command that enabled the development of the 1984 extended closed-circuit oxygen exposure limits that SEALs still use, as well as the Cochran Navy NSW Decompression Computer that is now an essential part of SDV operations. His friends remember Bill for his professionalism, his unfailing positive attitude, and his general love of life. RIP to a great teammate.”
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and his brother. He is survived by five nieces: Lisa (Ferrand) Hunter, Shelleena (Ferrand) Pernot, Rachelle (Ferrand) Guffey, Jennifer A. Ferrand, and Chandra (Ferrand) Rivera; his SEAL teammates; and dear friends Luke and Staci Stevenson, and Gina Freeman. Bill also leaves four ex-wives.
Bill requested that his ashes be scattered at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California. A celebration of life is being planned there for the summer of 2022. Information will be shared via social media as details become available.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his name to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org) or 22 Warriors Foundation (22warriors.org).