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Obituaries

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kim Brenegar Landscaping Business Owner

Kim Brenegar, 49, who owned the Ornamental Garden, a Capitol Hill landscaping business, died Oct. 9 in an automobile accident in Springport, N.Y. She was a passenger in a car driven by her daughter, who was injured in the accident.

Ms. Brenegar settled in Washington in the 1980s and worked in catering and restaurants before opening her landscaping business in 1992, after an internship at the National Arboretum. She often spoke to schools and youth groups about plants and gardening and was a member of the Landscape Contractors Association.

Ms. Brenegar had lived on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years and was well known in her community through her work and her many civic activities. She volunteered with Sports on the Hill, a nonprofit youth organization, and at the School Without Walls, a D.C. high school. She also was a volunteer with Community of Hope, a group that helps the homeless; the Capitol Hill Recycling Project; the Washington Humane Society; and D.C. Central Kitchen, which distributes food to the needy.

Kim Elizabeth Brenegar was born in Columbia, S.C., and was a magna cum laude graduate of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

Friends and clients plan to create a memorial garden on Capitol Hill in her honor.

Her marriage to Dan Strodel ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children, Allison A. Strodel and Julian D. Strodel, both of Washington; her mother, Jeanne Brenegar of Surry, Va.; her fiance, Joseph Ardizzone of Washington; a sister; and a brother.

-- Matt Schudel

Horace A. 'Al' Casner Systems Analyst

Horace A. "Al" Casner, 91, who retired in 1980 as a chief systems analyst for the old Community Services Administration, died Oct. 16 at his daughter's home in Woodbridge. He had lung cancer.

Mr. Casner, a Falls Church resident, began his federal career just after World War II working on vocational rehabilitation for the Veterans Administration in Philadelphia. Later, in Washington, he worked for the Army Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining in 1967 what was then the federal Office of Economic Opportunity.

Horace Alexander Casner was a Philadelphia native and a 1938 economics graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school.

He served in the Army in North Africa during World War II and was captured in 1943 by German forces. He was a prisoner of war in Poland until the war ended in 1945. The POW camp was called Oflag 64, and Mr. Casner was an organizer many years later of an Oflag 64 reunion in Washington.

During the Korean War, he was recalled to active duty in the Army and received the Bronze Star Medal. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1961 as a major.

He was a past member of the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington County. He enjoyed ice skating.

His wife of 65 years, Louanna Mathews Casner, died in 2008.

In addition to his daughter, Judy Fletcher of Woodbridge, survivors include two grandsons and a great-grandson.

-- Adam Bernstein

Muriel S. Blaser Substitute Teacher

Muriel S. Blaser, 93, a substitute teacher for Alexandria public schools from 1957 to the late 1970s, died Oct. 22 at Webster Comfort Care, a hospice in Webster, N.Y. She had lymphoma.

She was born Edith Muriel Shadford in Denver and received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Denver. During the 1930s, she taught elementary school in Las Animas, Colo. During the 1940s, she taught at military bases in Okinawa, Japan, and Tripoli, Libya. She taught elementary school for three years in Colorado Springs before moving to Alexandria in 1957.

Mrs. Blaser was a docent at the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington County from the late 1970s to the late 1990s and was a member of the Northern Virginia alumni chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority.

Her husband of 66 years, James A. Blaser, died in 2007.

Survivors include two daughters, Judith B. Bachelder of Morganton, N.C., and Linda B. Baroody of Pittsford, N.Y.; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

-- Lauren Wiseman

James R. Byron Engineer, Sales Executive

James R. Byron, 82, a retired engineer and sales executive for the Fluor Corp., died of complications from dementia Nov. 2 at Harbor View Manor nursing home in West Haven, Conn. He had been a McLean resident since 1986.

Mr. Byron worked for Fluor, an engineering and construction concern, from 1962 to 1994. He started in Los Angeles and also worked in London and New York. In 1986, he moved to the Washington office, where he led the sales and lobbying teams.

James Robert Byron was born in Gloversville, N.Y., and served in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and became an engineer. He went to work for Goodyear Tire & Rubber, first in Akron, Ohio, then in Houston and in 1959, Melbourne, Australia.

After he retired from Fluor, he volunteered for 10 years as a docent at the National Gallery of Art. He was also a member of the Washington International Business Council, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers.

Survivors include his wife, Isobel Byron of McLean; four children, James Byron of McLean, Jonathan Byron of Weston, Conn., Lynn Wilson of Greenwich, Conn., and Mark Byron of Danville, Calif.; and eight grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

Gus T. Chaconas Contractor

Gus T. Chaconas, 93, an independent contractor who built houses in Arlington County, Falls Church and McLean, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Oct. 15 at his home in Arlington.

Mr. Chaconas owned and operated a taxicab in the District before starting a contracting business in the late 1940s. He would buy property, build a house on it and then sell it.

Gus Theodore Chaconas was born in Georgetown to Greek immigrants. In his free time, he enjoyed fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and spending weekends in Atlantic City playing craps and cards.

Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Gloria Tull Chaconas of Arlington; four children, Robin Martin of Nokesville, Gloria Payne of Vienna, Mary White of Falls Church and Billy Chaconas of Coppell, Tex.; a sister, Angela Spiridopoulos of Fairfax City; 14 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

-- T. Rees Shapiro

Jack C. DeArmitt Driving Instructor

Jack C. DeArmitt, 83, a driving instructor for the U.S. Postal Service in Vienna from 1970 until he retired in 1992, died Oct. 29 at TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care in Sarasota, Fla. He had lung cancer.

From 1956 to 1965, Mr. DeArmitt was a store manager for Giant Food in Vienna, where he settled in the early 1950s. He briefly left the region from 1965 to 1969 while he was a store manager for Sears in Altoona, Pa.

Jack Clifford DeArmitt, a native of Huntingdon, Pa., served in the Navy during World War II in the South Pacific. After the war, he was a bus driver in Altoona. From 1953 to 1956, he was a service manager at a Chrysler dealership in Northern Virginia.

During the 1970s and '80s, Mr. DeArmitt volunteered as a baseball, softball and basketball coach and as an umpire for Vienna Youth, a sports league. He also volunteered with the Vienna Theatre Company and the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Sara Cacciotti DeArmitt of Sarasota; five children, Jean Cox of Sarasota, Jack DeArmitt of Ashburn, Ruth Taylor of Richmond, Ray DeArmitt of Raleigh, N.C., and Elizabeth Harless of Rockville; and 13 grandchildren.

-- Lauren Wiseman

Walter I. 'Jack' Giles Georgetown Professor

Walter I. "Jack" Giles, 89, a government professor at Georgetown University whose American government and constitutional law classes were considered intellectual proving grounds for future lawyers and legislators, including President Bill Clinton, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 9 at the Emeritus assisted living facility in Arlington County.

Dr. Giles joined the Georgetown faculty in 1947 and retired in 1990. Clinton, of the Georgetown Class of 1968, called Dr. Giles one of his favorite professors, according to David Maraniss's biography of the former president, "First In His Class" (1995).

Walter Irb Giles was a native of Hollis, Okla., and a 1943 graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. After serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II, he returned to Georgetown and received a master's degree in 1945 and a doctorate in 1956.

In 1949, Dr. Giles helped found the Gold Key Society, Georgetown's honor society, which later became the school's Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Dr. Giles received numerous awards from Georgetown in recognition of his service.

He moved to the assisted living home this year from Rosslyn.

He had no immediate survivors.

-- T. Rees Shapiro

Joan C. Reilly-Holm Nurse

Joan Campion Reilly-Holm, 75, a registered nurse who worked at a nursing home and a hospice in the Washington area during the 1980s and was the director of nursing at Doctors Hospital in the District from 1972 to 1979, died Oct. 31 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York of complications from pancreatitis. She lived in Goshen, N.Y.

From 1981 to 1984, Mrs. Reilly-Holm was director of nursing at Camelot Hall Nursing Home in Arlington County. From 1984 to 1986, she worked at the Washington Home, a hospice in the District.

Joan Marie Campion was born in Goshen, N.Y. She received a nursing degree from St. Vincent's School of Nursing in New York in the mid-1950s. During the late 1960s, she worked at Georgetown University Hospital as an assistant director of nursing. She moved to the District in 1958 and to Purgitsville, W.Va., in 1986, where she lived until the mid-1990s.

Her husband of 12 years, Edward J. Reilly, died in 1970. She later married Paul L. Holm, who died in February after 35 years of marriage.

Survivors include four children from her first marriage, Megan Reilly of Aspen, Colo., Moira Hollenbeck of Cumberland, R.I., Patrick Reilly of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Edmund Reilly of Gaithersburg; two stepsons, Jeff Holm of Woodbury, Pa., and David Holm of Prince Frederick; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

-- Lauren Wiseman

Arthur H. Livermore Science Educator

Arthur H. Livermore, 94, a former director of science education for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Oct. 12 at Seacoast Nursing Rehabilitation Center in Gloucester, Mass.

Dr. Livermore worked for the AAAS in Washington from 1963 to 1981, developing science curricula for elementary schools and trying to improve the quality of science instruction at all levels. He worked with teachers in Japan, the Philippines and China, and spent 18 months with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Penang, Malaysia, training educators from eight Southeast Asian countries.

He led seminars in South America, Europe and Israel, and in the 1970s directed a program for a university science lecturers' exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

After retirement, he worked as a science adviser and teacher at the Washington International School and volunteered in D.C. public schools. He consulted for Arlington's Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, pioneering a balloon launch to teach meteorological concepts to elementary and middle school students, and worked on the development of the Einstein Fellows program, which placed science and math teachers on congressional members' staffs.

Arthur Hamilton Livermore was born in Monroe, Wash., on Aug. 14, 1915, and grew up in Portland, Ore. He graduated from Reed College in Portland, and in 1944 received a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Rochester in New York. He worked on the team that first synthesized penicillin under Vincent du Vigneaud, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Dr. Livermore taught biochemistry at Cornell University's medical school until 1948, when he returned to Oregon. He taught at Reed for the next 15 years while also hosting a live television program on science on local TV.

In Washington, Dr. Livermore sang in the choir at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, where he taught Sunday school and in 1998 was named lay person of the year. He was a member of the Cosmos Club as well as the American Institute of Chemists and other scientific organizations. He moved to Gloucester in 2006.

His marriage to Janet Hays ended in divorce. His second wife, Jane Marye Livermore, died in 2006.

Survivors include five children from his first marriage, Dr. Barbara May Livermore of Sacramento, Arthur Hamilton Livermore Jr. of Falcon Cove, Ore., Audrey Janet Livermore of Seattle and Lewis Hays Livermore and David Gillmore Livermore, both of Portland, Ore.; a son from his second marriage, John Livermore of Gloucester; a brother; and 11 grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

Amel R. Menotti Lab Research Director

Amel R. Menotti, 96, who spent much of his career as research director of Bristol Laboratories of Syracuse, N.Y., died Oct. 28 at Leisure World in Silver Spring. He had complications from bladder cancer.

Dr. Menotti spent his early career working on the production of the antibiotic penicillin for military use during World War II. At Bristol, his research group was responsible for developing a number of drugs, including a family of semi-synthetic penicillin and anti-cancer drugs.

Amel Romeo Menotti was born in Cervara, Italy, and raised in central Utah. He was a 1937 graduate of Antioch College in Ohio and received a doctorate in organic chemistry from Ohio State University in 1940.

He settled in the Washington area about 1990 and moved into Leisure World. His memberships included the Cosmos Club and the Kiwanis Club at Leisure World chapter. He was a past chairman of the Gordon Research Conferences, a gathering of scientists.

Survivors include his wife of 70 years, Mary Pia Menotti of Silver Spring; four children, David Menotti of Potomac, Marilyn Raymond of Bethesda, Robert Menotti of Clinton, N.Y., and Nancy Huntzinger of Sylvania, Ohio; a sister; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

-- Adam Bernstein

Elizabeth 'Betty' Puzak Nurse

Elizabeth Kurtz "Betty" Puzak, 92, a nurse who worked in the Washington area for more than 40 years, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 15 at the Avow Hospice in Naples, Fla. She lived in Arlington County before moving to Naples in the late 1980s.

In 1941, Mrs. Puzak earned a master's degree in nursing from Yale University. While studying there, she met her future husband, Dr. Michael Puzak, a Yale University medical school graduate who specialized as a genitourinary surgeon. The couple married in 1942 and moved to the Washington area shortly afterward.

Dr. Puzak opened a private practice in Arlington, where Mrs. Puzak worked as the head nurse and manager for more than 40 years before retiring in 1989. From 1974 to 1982, she taught graduate nursing classes at the University of Virginia's Fairfax campus.

Elizabeth Laizure Kurtz was born in Altoona, Pa., and graduated in 1938 from Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. Her husband died in 1993.

Survivors include a daughter, Gail Scott of Georgetown, and a granddaughter.

Mrs. Puzak enjoyed playing golf. She was not a particularly skilled player, her family said, but during one round at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, she hit a hole-in-one. She never played another round of golf after that.

-- T. Rees Shapiro

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