Standards Bureau Officer Estelle Ress Keren, 95

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Estelle Ress Keren, 95, a retired administrative officer with the old National Bureau of Standards who also worked for the Democratic National Committee in the 1970s, died April 9 of a heart ailment at her home in Chevy Chase.

Ms. Keren worked in the data processing division at what is now the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

She was part of a group involved with the first digital computer, SEAC, and did original research in artificial intelligence, image processing and linguistics.

She also participated in automating Postal Service and Patent Office operations and defense and business systems. She retired in 1972.

Ms. Keren, a loyal Democrat, worked for the Democratic National Committee from 1972 to 1978, coinciding with the Watergate break-in and subsequent investigation.

"She calls this one of the historic events in her life," said her daughter, Patricia E. Manning of Annapolis. "She was in some interesting places at the right time."

Ms. Keren was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from the Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, in 1931.

After serving as a social worker in Allegheny County aiding out-of-work steelworkers, she moved to Washington in 1934 to work in a variety of New Deal programs.

She also worked for the Social Security Board in the assistant general counsel's office, helping prepare the legal cases defending the constitutionality of the Social Security Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ms. Keren, a two-time breast cancer survivor, volunteered at the Group Health Association, National Public Radio, the National Building Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives. She was a life member of Hadassah.

She was a keen bridge player and loved to watch tennis, which she played when she was younger. Swimming and horseback riding also were favorite pastimes. She enjoyed art, museums and jazz at Carter Baron Amphitheater.

She traveled across the world, taking her last trip in 1996 to South Africa.

"She was feisty. She spoke her mind," said her daughter. "Until six month ago, she was doing it on her own."

Ms. Keren's marriage to Barney J. Keren ended in divorce.

Besides her daughter, survivors include a granddaughter.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company