washingtonpost.com
Obituaries

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Warren E. 'Gene' Butler Customer Service Manager

Warren Eugene "Gene" Butler, 81, a retired general manager for customer service for Bell Atlantic, died April 16 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital of complications from a stroke. He lived in Fairfax County near Alexandria.

Mr. Butler was born in Newport News, Va., and joined C&P Telephone Co. after high school. He continued to work for C&P while attending the College of William and Mary, from which he graduated in 1949. He served in the Navy during the Korean War.

He was transferred to the company's Washington office in 1961 and held several positions at C&P, which later became known as Bell Atlantic. He retired as customer service general manager in 1986.

Mr. Butler was a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Alexandria, where he served on the vestry and was a trustee. He was also a mentor with its Education for Ministry program. He was a member of Telephone Pioneers of America and the American Legion.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Lynn H. Butler of Fairfax; two sons, Warren E. Butler Jr. of Alexandria and Russell R. "Randy" Butler of Charlotte; and two granddaughters.

-- Matt Schudel

James J. Franklin Deputy Fire Chief

James J. Franklin, 80, who served 20 years in the Navy and later became deputy chief of the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department, died March 25 of a pancreatic disorder at Florida Hospital Ormond Memorial in Ormond Beach, Fla. He had homes in South Daytona, Fla., and Frostburg, Md.

James Jackson Franklin was born in Morganton, N.C., and moved to Washington after high school. He joined the Navy in 1946 and served two years aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. From 1950 until his retirement in 1966 as a yeoman first class, he held administrative positions at the Navy Yard in Washington. He later worked as an office manager for a moving company.

While living in Silver Spring, Mr. Franklin joined the fire department and rose to the rank of deputy chief before retiring in 1976 and moving to Florida.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Phyllis Rajotte Franklin of South Daytona and Frostburg; five children, Carolyn Groves of Frostburg, Greg Franklin of Bowie, Donna Franklin of Silver Spring, David Franklin of Hedgesville, W.Va., and Trish Gray of Grants Pass, Ore.; a brother; a sister; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel

Marion Leech Club Member

Marion Leech, 102, a member of the Sulgrave Club and a volunteer, died April 13 of respiratory arrest at her home in Chevy Chase.

Miss Leech was born in Washington and was a 1925 graduate of the Sidwell Friends School. She volunteered with the Red Cross and children's welfare groups.

She was a well-known figure in her neighborhood and was particularly beloved by children.

She had no immediate survivors.

-- Matt Schudel

Howard J. Gross Navy Engineer

Howard J. Gross, 89, a retired electrical engineer with the Navy, died April 14 of a heart ailment at Wilson Health Care Center in Gaithersburg. He lived at Leisure World in Silver Spring.

In 1946, Mr. Gross became a civilian engineer with what is now called the Naval Ship Engineering Center and helped design communication systems for ships. After retiring in 1980, he worked as a consultant for a few years.

Howard Jolivette Gross was born in New Kensington, Pa., and was a 1942 graduate of Amherst College in Amherst, Mass. He served in the Navy during World War II and remained an officer in the Navy Reserve until 1967.

For many years, he lived in Bethesda, where he was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, Norwood Parish. He also volunteered with the Boy Scouts and was a 60-year member of the Royal Arch Masons.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Alberta B. Gross of Wilson Health Care Center, Gaithersburg; five children, Alan Gross of Germantown, Kevin Gross of Richmond, Duane Gross of North Potomac, Craig Gross of Charlotte and Lesley Varney of Wheaton; and five grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel

Helmuth Knapp FAA Engineer

Helmuth Knapp, 84, a retired engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, died March 31 of respiratory arrest at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in the District.

Mr. Knapp was born in Essweiler, Germany, and came to the United States with his family when he was 4. He grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He graduated from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York in 1950.

He then moved to Washington and joined the FAA as an engineer. He helped design radar equipment and navigational aid systems. He retired in 1980.

Mr. Knapp won several trophies in chess and also enjoyed studying mathematics.

He had no immediate survivors.

-- Matt Schudel

Audrey Pettis Homemaker

Audrey Pettis, 86, who raised four children in Washington, died April 12 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She had dementia.

Mrs. Pettis was born Audrey Vivian Livingston in Pitts, Ga., and came to Washington in the 1940s. She worked at Peoples Drug for several years. After 1947, she was a homemaker in the District.

Her husband, Frederick R. Pettis Sr., died in 1991.

A son, Robert Pettis, died in 1997.

Survivors include three children, Frederick R. Pettis Jr. of Homosassa, Fla., Mimi Naylor of Homestead, Fla., and Patrick Pettis of Silver Spring; two brothers; a sister; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel

John Walker Mitchell Upper Marlboro Lawyer

John Walker Mitchell, 83, an Upper Marlboro lawyer for more than 50 years until retiring in 2006, died of pneumonia April 14 at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

Mr. Mitchell practiced with a variety of partners over the years, working the longest with Cary Euwer and Bowie Clagett. In the early 1950s, he worked for several years as an assistant state's attorney for Prince George's County.

Born in Ellicott City, Mr. Mitchell graduated from Marlboro High School in 1943 and was sent by the Navy to the University of Pennsylvania under its V-12 program. He was commissioned in 1945 and served aboard the destroyer USS Gregory in the Pacific until the end of World War II. After the war, he returned to Penn, graduated and in 1950 received a degree from Georgetown University's law school.

Mr. Mitchell served on the board of the Maryland Historical Society from 1994 to 2001, as well as on the boards of Queen Anne School, the Prince George's County Historical Society and the Maryland Foundation for Kiplin Hall. He was a member of the Maryland Club, the Metropolitan Club and the Jefferson Islands Club, and was co-founder of the Upper Marlboro Ham Smokers and Sausage Stuffers Inc.

A stepson, Robert L. Hall IV, died in 1973.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Evalina S. Mitchell of Upper Marlboro; three children, Marian Mitchell Bond of Minnetonka, Minn., Margaret Mitchell Puryear of Dunkirk and Sarah H. Mitchell of Upper Marlboro; six stepchildren, Elizabeth Hall Kinley of Walkersville, Lamar Hall of Frederick, and E. Wallis Hall Cain, Clarence Hall, Richard Hall and Tilghman Hall Cushman, all of Upper Marlboro; two sisters, Margaret T. Slingluff and Marianne Chapman, both of Hollywood, Md.; a brother, Richard Slingluff of Annapolis; and 11 grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

© 2009 The Washington Post Company