William Allder Dies; Key Figure At Government Mapping Agency

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 12, 2005

William R. Allder Jr., 55, who throughout a 33-year career helped transform the government's mapping agency from a paper world to the digital age, died of a heart attack May 7 at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.

His last job title with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was director of strategic transformation, and his responsibilities included leading the agency's efforts to stay on the cutting edge of mapping and imagery technology. He was preparing to move into private industry at the time of his death.

Mr. Allder directed the development and deployment of large, complex, geospatial intelligence systems worldwide. Over the years, he developed systems that enhanced the nation's ability to provide geographical information and images from a satellite to a plane's cockpit or a ship's bridge or from a soldier's foxhole to a policymaker's desk.

Throughout his career, Mr. Allder had been a part of the defense, intelligence and civilian mapping and imagery communities. He worked with the National Ocean Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Defense Mapping Agency, the Central Imagery Office and finally the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which last year became the NGA.

In the early 1980s, when the mapping field was undergoing major changes, he developed software that helped officials predict costs and manage schedules for major projects. He was recognized for his expertise in systems engineering, development and integration.

He received the Department of Defense's Presidential Rank Award in 1999, which noted his ability to assemble and motivate diverse, high-performing teams. He twice received the Distinguished Executive award, in 2001 and 1999.

Curt Ward, who was Mr. Allder's deputy for two years, said that he had a remarkable ability to organize and keep track of multiple things simultaneously while dealing with complicated budgets and contracts. He also had a photographic memory and never had to write anything down, family members and Ward said.

Once when he needed a document for a meeting, Mr. Allder asked Ward to retrieve it from among the eight piles of paper on his desk. "He said, 'Stand in the middle of the desk, look at the third stack from the right . . . the second one from the back and three-fourths of the way down,' " Ward said. And there it was.

Mr. Allder was born in Washington and graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville. He graduated from Duke University in North Carolina and married his high school sweetheart.

He was a devoted Duke Blue Devils fan and loved college basketball, golf and a fine malt scotch. His family said he had an offbeat sense of humor and a passion for Monty Python movies and comedies such as "Pink Flamingos" and "Bedazzled."

On the day he died, Mr. Allder completed 18 holes of golf and was having lunch at the International Golf and Country Club in Fairfax when he had a heart attack.

Survivors include his wife, Susan Allder of Sterling, and two children, William R. Allder III and Jacquelyn Allder, both of Sterling; two sisters, Bette Rutherford and Jacquelyn Allder, and a brother, Bill DuBois, all of Oakton.

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