John Joseph Degen, 67, a retired civilian procurement officer with the Army who was active in volunteer work, died of cancer Sept. 11 at the Washington Adventist Hospital. He had lived in Takoma Park for the last 28 years.
Mr. Degen, who was a native of Brooklyn, served with the Army in Europe during World War II. He moved to the Washington area about 35 years ago. He worked for the Army at Fort Meade and then at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He retired in 1974.
It was during that year that Mr. Degen entered the Washington Adventist Hospital for heart surgery. He told The Washington Post in a 1977 interview, "I know I was going to have a rough time of it and I was scared." He said that he had vowed to help others if he survived the surgery.
For the last seven years, Mr. Degen counseled patients at the Washington Adventist Hospital who were about to undergo heart surgery. "I don't talk medical talk," he said in the 1977 interview, "I just talk like an ordinary Joe. I tell them where it's going to hurt and what they have to do to get better."
Mr. Degen was one of nine volunteer workers with the Montgomery Volunteer Services who were honored for their work by Montgomery College in 1977. He also was a charter member of the D.C. chapter of Mended Hearts Inc., a counseling organization.
He was a member of Takoma Lodge No. 29 of the Masons and Montgomery Forest No. 134 of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon.
Survivors include his wife of 38 years, the former Elizabeth Findlay, of Takoma Park; a son, John F. of Fairmont, Md.; a daughter, Mary D. Barber of Kensington; two sisters, Margaret Degen of New York City and Elizabeth Sackleben of Pennsylvania; three brothers, Henry of Maine, Charles of Pennsylvania, and Thomas of Idaho, and a grandchild.