Thursday, October 5, 2006

Kenneth Paul BurnsArmy Colonel

Kenneth Paul Burns, 89, a former Army colonel and university administrator, died Sept. 30 of complications from a stroke at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, Md.

Col. Burns was a native of Boone, Iowa, and a graduate of Iowa State University. He entered the Army in 1938 and served in the 63rd Infantry Division during World War II. As an artillery officer, he participated in the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central European campaigns.

After the war, he was part of the army of occupation in Germany. He later served in Taiwan as chief adviser to the Chinese nationalist artillery school.

Col. Burns was assigned to the Pentagon from 1958 to 1961 and from 1964 to 1967. He lived in Arlington during those years and was president of the Northern Virginia Aquatic Club. He was also an officer in the Amateur Athletic Union swimming club of greater Washington.

He retired from the Army in 1967 and was the recipient of the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.

From 1967 to 1978, Col. Burns served on the administrative staff of the University of Michigan, where he monitored contracts and grants. He received a master's degree in education from Michigan in 1970.

In 1978, Col. Burns moved to Williamsburg, where he helped organize the Anheuser-Busch golf tournament. He also organized and directed an armed forces golf tournament in Williamsburg for 10 years.

His first wife, Muriel Ann Klay Burns, died in 1984 after 44 years of marriage.

Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Nelle C. Burch Burns of Catonsville; two sons from his first marriage, Thomas Robert Burns of Longwood, Fla., and James Klay Burns of New Castle, N.H.; two stepdaughters, Janice Burch Flamond of Olney and Helen Burch Karls of Richmond; and seven grandchildren.

Mary Vernon Dix SprolesGardener, Meeting Planner

Mary Vernon Dix Sproles, 93, who grew bountiful azaleas and worked part time in the 1960s and '70s at the Washington Convention and Visitors Association, died of cardiac arrest Sept. 26 at the University Medical Center at Princeton in Princeton, N.J. A former resident of Arlington, she had been living at Stonebridge assisted living facility in Skillman, N.J., since May.

She was born in Montgomery, Ala., and lived on a farm in nearby Mount Meigs and on a plantation her father ran in Whaley, Miss. After the bottom dropped out of the cotton market, she lived in Decatur, Ala. She graduated from high school at 16 and went to Montevallo, Ala., to attend what was then the Alabama College, State College for Women, where her mother had taught Latin before she was married. But the hard times of the Depression forced her to return home after two years.

She worked in the family insurance business until marrying in 1941. After moving with her husband, who worked with what was then the U.S. Weather Bureau, to Atlanta and Miami, she moved to an apartment in Alexandria in 1947.

Mrs. Sproles, who had a home in Arlington since 1950, had to vacate her first home about 1961 and uproot her azalea bushes when houses in her community were taken for the Interstate 66 right of way.

During the 1960s and '70s, she was an assistant director of service with the Washington Convention and Visitors Association, working in meeting planning and coordination.

She was active in Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington, serving on committees. In the early 1960s, she was president of the Woman's Society of Christian Service.

Her main interests were her family, gardening and antique collecting. The yard of each of her homes was filled with azaleas. In 1958, she held a garden party when the azaleas were in bloom and entertained 150 guests from her husband's office, their church and their neighborhood.

She collected antiques, including furniture, wall hangings, glassware, china and silverware. She and her friends relished visiting any antique shop that they saw along the road, her son said. "I think she enjoyed looking for antiques with her friends as much as finding the items she purchased."

She was one of early members of the Alexandria Antique Arts Association.

From about 1990 through 2001, Mrs. Sproles held a Christmas holiday tea party for about 30 women, mostly neighbors, helping to build a sense of community in her neighborhood.

After her husband retired, they traveled to the western national parks, the Canadian Rockies, Scandinavia and Russia, among other places.

Her husband of 54 years, Edward S. Sproles Sr., died in 1996.

Survivors include her son, Edward Sproles Jr. of Lawrenceville, N.J.

William A. GeradeManagement Analyst

William A. Gerade, 71, a retired supervisory management analyst with the Department of the Navy, died of lung cancer Sept. 26 at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Gerade was born in Malden, Mass., and served stateside in the Marine Corps in the early 1950s.

He joined the Department of the Army in 1964, working as an analyst in the Pentagon. He transferred to the Navy Department in 1967 and eventually retired from the Office of Personnel in 1994.

In 1993, Mr. Gerade, an avid genealogist, wrote a book titled "Ancestors and Descendants of Warren Capers Gerade and Pearl Eva Gibson, Including Some Related Families." He was proud to trace his heritage back to the early 100s. He also enjoyed traveling and watching his grandchildren dance and play sports.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Lois Gerade, and two children, Denise Gressly and Mark Gerade, all of Alexandria; a sister; two brothers; and six grandchildren.

Alfred Harding IVForeign Service Officer

Alfred Harding IV, 82, a former Foreign Service officer who was a specialist in Chinese language and culture, died Sept. 24 at his home in Washington after a series of strokes.

Mr. Harding was born in New York. He was a graduate of Cornell University and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. During World War II, he served with the Army in China, where he became acquainted with many future leaders of the country, including Mao Zedong.

He spent seven months with Chinese forces in Japanese-occupied China and helped rescue several U.S. air crews shot down behind enemy lines. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

Mr. Harding joined the State Department's Foreign Service after World War II and was a Fulbright scholar at Peking University in 1948 and 1949 . He later studied at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute in Macao from 1952 to 1954 and was fluent in written Chinese and spoken dialect.

He was a Foreign Service officer in Taipei in 1960-61 and in London in 1962-63. He served in the consular office in Warsaw, where he was chief interpreter in U.S.-Chinese diplomatic negotiations from 1962 to 1966.

Mr. Harding also served in Hong Kong and Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1972 to 1975, he was based in Washington and helped establish cultural links between China and the United States. He was the State Department's Freedom of Information officer from 1977 until his retirement in 1979.

In later years, he enjoyed traveling and accompanied Smithsonian Institution tour groups to China. Mr. Harding compiled his own Chinese-English dictionary, which he carried in his breast pocket. He had a deep interest in classical music and played the piano and bass.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Lillian Harding of Washington, and a brother, Claus Harding of Washington.

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