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Robert Asleson, 74

Robert Asleson, president of the Bethesda-based Redalen Group, dies at 74

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Robert Asleson, 74, who since 1989 had been the president of the Bethesda-based Redalen Group, a publishing-industry consulting practice, died July 22 of prostate cancer at his home in Bethesda.

Over more than four decades, Mr. Asleson's career in the publishing and information industries spanned technologies from reference books to CD-ROMs and online databases. In 1967, he became president of University Microfilms International, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based firm that published doctoral dissertations and rare documents on microfilm. According to the company, it has 2.2 billion documents representing 500 years of history -- the world's largest commercially available microfilm collection.

Mr. Asleson left UMI in 1976 to become president of R.R. Bowker Co., a reference-book publisher in New York. In 1982, he moved to Washington to head International Thomson Information, Inc., a division of the company that is now Thomson Reuters.

In the 1990s, he served as president of the Library Corp., an Inwood, W.Va.-based company that sells software and information technologies to libraries.

For the past two decades, he had spent many hours at the Library of Congress, talking with researchers and librarians about tools they could use to make their work easier. He used what he learned to produce and market specialized databases.

Robert Freeman Asleson was born in New Ulm, Minn. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he also received a master's degree in industrial engineering in 1958. He received a law degree from George Washington University in 1961.

He served in the Navy ROTC during college and on active duty from 1958 to 1961. He continued serving in the Navy Reserve until 1973.

Mr. Asleson served as chairman of the board of directors of the Information Industry Association and as a member of the board of the National Micrographics Association. He was a past member of the National Advisory Board for the Library of Congress's Center for the Book.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Patricia Starnes Asleson of Bethesda; three daughters, Robyn Des Roches of Bethesda, Kristin McDonnell of Menlo Park, Calif., and Gail Kang of Moraga, Calif.; a sister; and seven grandchildren.

-- Emma Brown

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