Obituaries

Friday, March 17, 2006

M.C. BeckerAir Force Colonel

M.C. Becker, 77, a retired Air Force colonel who later served on the Fairfax County Water Authority, died of cancer Feb. 16 at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He lived in Alexandria.

Col. Becker, known as "Beck," retired from the Air Force in 1976 after a 27-year career. He then became active in civic and community affairs in Fairfax County. He worked as a precinct captain during elections and with the Fairfax County voter registration office. He also volunteered with his homeowners association and in his political party. He took part in support groups for Alzheimer's disease and cancer, and provided assistance to other seniors.

Marion Charles Becker was born in Stuttgart, Ark., and graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1949. He received a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1960.

His military career included assignments with the Air Force Rescue Service, Air Force Systems Command, the Minuteman program and the Titan Missile Program. He also was assigned to the Pentagon in the office of the Air Force vice chief of staff and in the office of the director of air board structure. During the Korean War, he was a flight instructor and served overseas in French Morocco in from 1954 to 1955.

His wife of 48 years, Ferroline Becker, died in 1997.

Survivors include three children, Charles Becker of Riverside, Calif., Barbara Wilson of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Patricia Oles of Orlando; three sisters; and five grandchildren.

Maj. Gen. Ernest T. CraggAir Force Officer

Ernest T. Cragg, a retired major general in the Air Force and a World War II pilot, died March 9 of congestive heart failure at his home in Arlington.

Gen. Cragg was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1943. He also received a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University and graduated from the National War College, both in 1963.

During World War II, he served in the European theater as a pilot, flight commander and assistant operations officer, completing 76 combat missions in P-38s and P-51s. He served with the 563rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Etain air base in France and with the Twelfth Air Force in Ramstein, Germany.

In 1965, he became commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing in England. He also served as commander of the 3500th Pilot Training Wing at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Tex., which he considered his favorite and most challenging assignment. After commanding the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center at Norton Air Force Base, Calif., he became chief of staff of the Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, based in Naples, Italy. A command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours, he retired in 1975.

Gen. Cragg's decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters. On the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, he attended a dinner celebration in Portsmouth, England, at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II.

After retiring from the military, he became general director of RTB-Olympic Travel in New York City, charged with the logistical planning and management for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. After the Olympics, he served as chief executive officer of the Society of Military Travelers, a travel agency that catered primarily to military personnel and their families. He retired a second time in 1994. He also wrote a travel guide for the military.

In Arlington, Gen. Cragg was active with a local chapter of Ducks Unlimited and was the neighborhood handyman for small repairs and other needs. He also built a 1929 Mercedes-Benz from a kit, using a 1966 Mustang engine. He loved hunting on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He also hunted wild boar in Turkey and the former Yugoslavia and pheasants in North Dakota.

His first wife, Helen Cragg, died in 1972.

Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Galina Cragg of Arlington; three children, Dawn Cragg and Edward Cragg, both of Arlington, and Peter Cragg of Houston; a sister; and four grandchildren.

E. Pauline NellisHomemaker, Navy Wife

E. Pauline Nellis, 85, a homemaker and former Navy wife who engaged in volunteer activities, died of complications of cancer March 14 at Greenspring Village, a retirement community in Springfield.

Mrs. Nellis was born in Wadsworth, Ohio, and graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1944. She worked for a year as an elementary school teacher immediately after college and then became a Navy wife and homemaker.

She settled in Falls Church in 1965 and lived there until 1993. She was a volunteer with the American Heart Association, a member of the board of the Ashlawn Homeowners Association and a librarian for the Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Vienna, where she was a longtime member. She also belonged to round dance associations, including Happy Feet. She took part in the group's annual program, "City Lights," until 2004.

Survivors include her husband of 60 years, retired Navy Capt. J. Don Nellis of Springfield; three children, Jim Nellis of Fairfax Station, Sheila Nellis Boggs of Knoxville, Tenn., and John Nellis of Coatesville, Pa.; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

William Price HurstNavy Project Engineer

William Price Hurst, 80, a retired Navy Department project engineer who worked on ship design and construction project from what is now Naval Sea Systems Command, died March 11 at his home in Woodbridge. He had pulmonary fibrosis.

Mr. Hurst was a native Washingtonian and attended Roosevelt High School. After Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, he received a general equivalency diploma.

He then spent several years on active duty in the Navy, including work as a radioman on submarines. He was a Navy civilian from the early 1960s until he retired in the mid-1980s.

A daughter, Joyce Hurst, died in 1960.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Marjorie Norris Hurst of Woodbridge; three children, Lawrence Hurst of Springfield, Richard Hurst of Sarasota, Fla., and Janet Jaensch of Annandale; a sister, Barbara McCary of Olney; and four grandchildren.

Jean Payne VolzHomemaker, Artist

Jean Payne Volz, 74, a homemaker and artist who coordinated art volunteers in Fairfax County schools for several years, died of cancer March 13 at her home in McLean.

Mrs. Volz was born in the District and graduated from McLean High School in 1948. She studied art at the Richmond Professional Institute and graduated from what was then Lindenwood College in 1977. She received a master's degree from the University of Virginia in 1980.

She worked for the Army Map Service as a topographical draftsman before her marriage in 1952. While working as a homemaker in the 1950s, she provided day care for the children of friends, did freelance art work, drove a school bus and volunteered with the Boy Scouts.

In 1964, she began teaching preschool and primary grades at the Happy Hill School in Langley. In 1972, when public schools began reducing art instruction, she became coordinator and instructor of art volunteers in the Fairfax County schools. She remained in that position until the late 1980s.

A member of the McLean Art Club, Mrs. Volz was a painter throughout her life. She also was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean.

Survivors include her husband of 54 years, William Michael Volz of McLean; four children, Michael William Volz of Ashburn, Brian Nathan Volz of Chantilly, John Christian Volz of Princeton, N.J., and Jeanne Volz Gladden of Wardensville, W.Va.; a sister; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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