Submitted by J.C. Knowles; vetted and edited by Cheri Todd Molter and Kobe Brown
Percy W. Foote was born on August 13, 1879, in Wilkes County. He was the son of Confederate veteran John Henry Foote (a founder of Wake Forest College) and Susan Hunt Foote. Interestingly, one of Foote’s ancestors, Ann Washington Wright, was President George Washington’s aunt. Foote grew up in the brick mansion on the old family plantation. He was said to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and spent many hours in his father’s library, reading. Foote attended the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1901.
In 1906, he developed a method of fire control that became the Navy’s model of effectiveness. On Oct. 1, 1910, Foote married Genevieve Clary of Great Falls, Montana. In 1913, he persuaded acting Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt turbine electric propulsion in battleships.
Later during his naval career, Foote was a chief engineer of the battleship Louisiana, and after becoming lieutenant commander, Foote was given the choice assignment of gunnery officer of the battleship Nevada. The Nevada was the Navy’s most powerful vessel when launched on 11 July 1914.
After 40 years of service to his country, Foote retired in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he died on June 23, 1961. Foote was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.