A Celebration of Life service for William Edward "Ed" Sinks, age 95 of Clarksville, will be Friday, October 16, 2020 at 1:00 PM at Sykes Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens where he will be laid to rest next to his wife, Brenda Pauline "Polly" Sinks. The family will receive friends on Friday from 11:00 AM until the time of service. William passed away on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at Tennova Healthcare. He was born April 23, 1925, in Palmyra, Tennessee, to Alma Baggett Sinks and Harvey Franklin Sinks who preceded him in death.


He attended schools in Montgomery County and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in September 1942. He served on the minesweeper the USS Embattle the Gleaves-class destroyer the USS Quick, and he was most proud of his service in the Pacific Theater on the Fletcher-class destroyer the USS Nicholas.


The USS Nicholas holds the Navy record for battle stars, with 16 from WWII, five from the Korean War and nine from the Vietnam War. Ed’s most prized possession during his later years was a Navy ballcap with the silhouette of the USS Nicholas, decorated with 16 silver stars to represent its honors.


Ed received the Silver Star, the third highest award for combat valor, for his heroic actions during a diving mission in enemy waters. He received a Purple Heart for injuries he received during an aerial attack on the Nicholas. He also took part in the rescue of USS Helena survivors from the Kula Gulf and Vella LeVella island during active combat. This dramatic rescue earned all serving on board a Presidential Unit Citation.


During a brief leave while in service, he married fellow Montgomery County-native Brenda Pauline “Polly” York in Norfolk, Virginia, and they were married 66 years until her death in 2011. After Ed’s honorable discharge as a gunner’s mate second class on April 29, 1946, he returned home to Clarksville.


Most notably, he was employed for many years as a civilian training aids officer for the Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Several years after his initial retirement, he worked for the Clarksville Montgomery County School System delivering food service supplies and chatting with the lunch ladies.


His favorite pastimes were camping and fishing with family and friends at Land Between the Lakes, especially from his much-loved campsite on the point at Piney Campground. He and Polly, as well as his faithful dachshund sidekick “Hoss,” also traveled the United States in a succession of campers, all of which he christened “Pokey.” During all of his years and all of his travels, he told jokes nonstop, he never met a stranger, and he was never truly happy until he made everyone laugh.


He was a lifelong inventor, and often recruited his grandchildren to assist in constructing and testing his latest gadget, whether it be a house alarm created using a flattened tablespoon or a warning device to scare off those stealing peaches and grapes from his backyard trees and vines.


He is preceded in death by his two brothers, Howard Sinks and Brice Sinks, and by his wife Polly.


Survivors include his daughter, Linda Faye Sinks Conatser (Richard); three grandchildren, Chad McWhorter (Jeidy), Jill McWhorter Clendening, and Lynn McWhorter; six great-grandchildren, Kassie McWhorter Crain (Michael), Daniella McWhorter, Bella McWhorter, Parker Clendening, Sydney Clendening, and Poppy McWhorter; and five great-great grandchildren, Kaylynn, Karley, Kainan, Kinley and Kessa Crain.


In lieu of flowers, please call a veteran, thank them for their service and spend some quality time listening to their journey.


Please visit Ed's guestbook at and share a memory with the family.


Recommended for you