Robert N.C. Nix Sr., 88, a Democrat who in 1958 became Pennsylvania's first black U.S. representative, and who was chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee when he was defeated for renomination to the House in 1978, died June 22 at a hospital in Philadelphia after a heart attack.
Mr. Nix was elected to the House of Representatives in 1958 to fill an unexpired term. He served until he lost the 1978 Democratic Party primary to Rep. William Gray III.
During his years in Congress, Mr. Nix became a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he backed the Johnson administration on the war in Vietnam.
As his last term began, Mr. Nix was the second-ranking member of the Congressional Black Caucus, but he rarely sought to influence its work. A product of Philadelphia's Democratic machine, he followed its lead in matters of substance to his state and introduced little legislation of his own.
Before Congress convened in 1977, younger members of the 28-member Post Office and Civil Service Committee started a movement to deny Mr. Nix the committee chairmanship. The movement died for two reasons, according to observers. The first was that any concerted move to block his elevation would be met by charges of racism; the second was that the Post Office committee chairmanship was not really worth fighting over.
Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix Sr. was born in Orangeburg, S.C. He graduated from high school in New York City and from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania law school.
Admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1925, he was a lawyer with the state revenue department and a special assistant deputy state attorney general. He was a lawyer in private practice and a Philadelphia Democratic Party ward committeeman before entering Congress.
Survivors include a son, Robert N.C. Nix Jr., who is the chief justice of Pennsylvania, and four grandchildren.
WILLIAM H. POWELL JR.,
83, a retired Air Force major general and a former chief medical officer at NATO headquarters in Europe, died of heart ailments June 21 at Alexandria Hospital.
Gen. Powell, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Fayetteville, N.C. He graduated from Wake Forest University and earned a medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in 1927. In 1929, he was commissioned in the Army Medical Corps.
In the 1930s, he served at various posts in the United States and in the Panama Canal Zone. During World War II, he opened a military hospital in Atlantic City, N.J., and later was assistant surgeon of the Army Air Forces Training Command in Fort Worth.
In 1949, Gen. Powell transferred from the Army to the Air Force, which had become a separate service in 1947. He was chief of professional services in the Air Force Medical Service in Washington until 1951, when he went to Wiesbaden, West Germany, as surgeon of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
From 1953 to 1957, Gen. Powell was deputy surgeon general of the Air Force in Washington. He then went to Paris as chief medical officer at NATO headquarters.
In 1959, he returned here. He retired in 1960 and had lived in Alexandria since then.
Gen. Powell's military decorations included the Legion of Merit.
He was a member of the Radiological Society of America and Grace Reformed Church in Washington.
Survivors include his wife, Harriet Stanton Powell, whom he married in 1928, of Alexandria, and one sister, Louise Varnedoe of Fayetteville.
CLIFF ATKINSON JR.,
72, a retired colonel in the Marine Corps who became an official of the American Waterworks Association, died of sepsis June 21 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He had undergone surgery for an intestinal disorder and also had lung ailments.
Col. Atkinson, who lived in McLean, was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He graduated from the University of Alabama, where he majored in chemical engineering, and later earned a master's degree in public administration at Ohio State University.
In 1936, he was commissioned in the Marine Corps. During World War II, he was a staff officer with the 2nd Marine Division in the Pacific and took part in the campaigns at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian.
His postwar assignments included duty at various posts in the United States and in Japan and Italy. He was assistant director of personnel at Headquarters Marine Corps when he retired in 1967.
Col. Atkinson then became public affairs director at the American Waterworks Association. He was deputy executive director of the organization when he retired in 1981.
His military decorations included two Legion of Merit medals, the Purple Heart and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Survivors include his wife, Genevieve Atkinson of McLean; one son, David Atkinson of Falls Church; four daughters, Virginia McCormack of Lake Ridge, Va., Jean Atkinson of Madison, Wis., Julie Atkinson of Richmond, and Melinda Newell of Ellicott City, Md.; one brother, William Atkinson of Savannah, Ga.; one sister, Lili Strickland of Tuscaloosa, and four grandchildren.
DOREEN N. GERHARD,
64, the office manager of the Richter News Service and a resident of the Washington area since 1941, died of cancer June 20 at Fairfax Hospital.
Mrs. Gerhard, a resident of Springfield, was born in Dayton, Iowa. She attended a business college in Grand Island, Neb., and earned a degree in accounting at Benjamin Franklin University in Washington.
During World War II, she worked for the Agriculture Department and later for the National Grange. In 1952, she went to work for the Richter News Service, which specializes in agricultural news. She was office manager until her death.
Survivors include her husband, Edmund J. Gerhard of Springfield; two children, James N., of Washington, and Laura J., of San Francisco; her mother, Laura Nelson of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and two brothers, Dale Nelson of Des Moines, and Robert Nelson of Los Angeles.
LAURA A. JETT,
79, a retired Fairfax County schoolteacher, died at Fairfax Hospital June 15 after a stroke.
Miss Jett, a resident of McLean, was born in Reedville, Va. She graduated from Fredericksburg (Va.) Teachers College.
She moved to the Washington area in 1942 and taught 31 years in Fairfax County before retiring in 1973. She taught third and fourth grades and spent most of her career at Franklin Sherman, Churchill Road and Spring Hill elementary schools.
Miss Jett was a life member of the National Education Association.
There are no immediate survivors.
L. MAURICE ROWE III,
47, vice president for builders services with the Margaretten Co. in Rockville and a mortgage banker since the mid-1970s, died of cancer June 22 at his home in Rockville.
He had joined Margaretten about a year ago. Before that, he had his own mortgage banking business, Unity Funding Inc. in Rockville. Earlier, he had worked for the Unity Mortgage Corp. of Kensington and the James T. Barnes Co. of Washington.
Mr. Rowe was a native of Washington and a graduate of Gonzaga College High School. After graduating from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., in 1966, he worked for about seven years in the sales department of the Carnation Co. in Washington.
He then spent two years with the Development International company in Montgomery County, where he was a vice president for building services, before joining the Barnes Co. about 1975.
He was a member of the Suburban Maryland Home Builders Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Montgomery Board of Realtors and the Columbia Country Club.
Survivors include his wife, the former Kathleen Carmody, two sons, L. Maurice IV and Kevin J., and one daughter, Mary Kate Rowe, all of Rockville; his mother, Margaret J. Rowe of Bethesda, and one brother, Ronald D. Rowe of Tunis Mills, Md.
DAGMAR EUGENIA ERDAHL,
78, a resident of Washington since 1932, died of emphysema June 20 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Mrs. Erdahl was born in Escanaba, Mich., and grew up in Duluth, Minn.
Survivors include her husband, Robert Stuart Erdahl of Washington; three children, Donna Giuffra of McLean, Robert Mitchell Erdahl of Kingston, Ontario, and William Stuart Erdahl of Arlington, and four grandchildren.
GLORIA R. OCHSENREITER,
97, a retired employe of the Treasury Department and a lifelong resident of the Washington area, died of pneumonia June 20 at Washington Adventist Hospital.
Mrs. Ochsenreiter, a resident of Hyattsville, was born in Germantown. She grew up in Washington and graduated from the Business High School.
During World War II she worked for the Navy Department. After the war, she joined the Treasury Department and was a file clerk in the savings bond division when she retired in 1964.
Mrs. Ochsenreiter was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish.
Her husband, Frank B. Ochsenreiter, died in 1939.
Survivors include two children, Frank B. Ochsenreiter Jr. of Washington, and Gloria O. Thomas of Hyattsville; one brother, Sylvester Richter of Georgia; five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.