William E. Wallace, 92, WWII code breaker

William E. Wallace
William E. Wallace
Posted: August 18, 2014

In World War II, William E. Wallace was a code breaker trying to discover what Nazi pilots were saying to one another.

He was not at Bletchley Park, where the British were at work on deciphering the master German code known as Enigma.

At Cheadle near Manchester, "he was working on the day-to-day code breaking," his son Bill said.

"The Germans flew weather planes out every day," he said, and in reporting back the weather conditions in simple code, the German pilots repeated words too often.

And so Mr. Wallace and other Americans assigned to a British unit, he said, "used the weather reports to break their daily code."

On Tuesday, Aug. 12, Mr. Wallace, 92, of Maple Shade, president of the Federation of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania in the 1970s and 1980s, died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Mr. Wallace grew up in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia and graduated from Olney High School.

"Before the war, he had started working for the Bell Telephone Co. of Pennsylvania as a PBX installer," office switchboards known as public building exchanges, his son said.

Mr. Wallace returned to Bell as an installer, became active in the labor union, was elected president of the Philadelphia local, and eventually full-time head of the state union.

After the breakup of the Bell System in 1982, his union became a part of the Communications Workers of America, for which Mr. Wallace was an international vice president until retiring in 1985.

He was then a volunteer mediator for the Burlington County Superior Court for 25 years, using the skills he had honed in arguing union grievances before arbitrators.

And from 2000 to 2012, he headed the Maple Shade Township Planning Board, continuing as a member since then.

Mr. Wallace was a Democratic committeeman in Maple Shade and, for the last 25 years, a Scripture reader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help there.

Besides son Bill, Mr. Wallace is survived by son Rob, daughter Nora Ann Wallace, a sister, and two grandchildren. Rosemary, his wife of 50 years, died in 2000.

Viewings were set from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, and from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 18, at Inglesby/Givnish, 600 E. Main St., Maple Shade, before a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Main Street and Fellowship Road in Maple Shade, 08052, with interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham.

Donations may be sent to the church at the above address.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.lifecelebration.com/loc-bur-inglesbygivnish.html.


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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