In an obituary Aug. 26 about Helen D. Gage, the name of an award she is to receive posthumously from the American Cancer Society was incorrect. It is the Judith Rubenstein Courage Award. (Published 9/ 15/90)
Thomas Willson McKnew, 94, a former chairman of the board of trustees of the National Geographic Society and a longtime official of the organization, died of pneumonia Aug. 24 at the Carriage Hill nursing home in Bethesda.
Dr. McKnew, who lived in McLean, joined the National Geographic in 1931 as assistant secretary and subsequently held a number of high administrative positions. He was elected chairman in 1966 and held that post until 1967, when he was named advisory chairman. He received the title of chairman emeritus in 1987.
A former construction official, he was described as being "the dominant force" in the planning and construction of the National Geographic's handsome marble headquarters in downtown Washington. He also was credited with making possible large increases in the circulation of the National Geographic magazine through modern high-speed color presses and improved paper.
A longtime member of the society's committee on research and exploration, Dr. McKnew helped finance hundreds of projects in the fields of geology, archeology, anthropology, botany and other disciplines. He himself took part in cave explorations in Alabama and what is now Tanzania and in searches for artifacts in the sea off the coast of Yucatan, Mexico. He wrote several articles for the society's magazine.
He had a particular interest in flight and space exploration, and in 1953 he made a flight over the North Pole. In 1934 and 1935, he was the National Geographic's representative on a joint project with the Army Air Corps to explore the stratosphere.
On Nov 11, 1935, these efforts produced a record altitude for manned flight and the first photographs showing the curvature of the earth when the balloon Explorer II was launched from Rapid City, S.D. The pilots were Army Capts. Albert W. Stevens and Orvil A. Anderson. They attained an altitude of 72,395 feet, a record at that time, and determined the nature of the stratosphere.
In 1961, Dr. McKnew established an Air Force trophy to be given annually for space exploration. It was named for his friend Gen. Thomas D. White, a former Air Force chief of staff.
Dr. McKnew was a fifth-generation Washingtonian. During World War I, he served in the Navy in the Atlantic. In 1915, he went to work for the George A. Fuller Construction Co. He was assigned to work on the Washington National Cathedral, and from 1922 to 1925 was superintendent of construction there. He later spent many years as a member of the cathedral's building committee.
In 1925, Dr. McKnew became a partner of the James Baird Construction Co. Projects. His projects included a wing of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service. He also was involved in other major projects around the country.
In 1931, he joined National Geographic. He was named secretary in 1945, vice president in 1955 and executive vice president in 1958. He was elected a life trustee in 1949 and became vice chairman of the board in 1962.
For his interest in space and defense, Dr. McKnew received the Navy's Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Air Force Exceptional Service Award. He was given the George Washington Award of the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge for his article "Four-Ocean Navy in the Nuclear Age," published in the National Geographic magazine in 1966.
The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology made him an honorary doctor of engineering.
Dr. McKnew was a member of the Alibi, Chevy Chase, Alfalfa and Metropolitan clubs in Washington and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.
His first wife, the former Virginia Chauncey Paff, died in 1976.
Survivors include his wife, Lenore Knight Williams McKnew of McLean.
HELEN D. GAGE
Helen D. Gage, 72, a retired head nurse in the outpatient surgery section at the Washington Hospital Center, died of cancer Aug. 23 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Mrs. Gage, who lived in Washington, was born in Allendale, S.C. She graduated from the Mason Memorial Hospital in Murray, Ky., as a registered nurse.
She moved to Washington in 1941 and was a nurse at Walter Reed Army Hospital and then at the old Garfield Hospital. In 1947, she resigned to raise her family.
In 1966, she returned to nursing and joined the staff of the Washington Hospital Center. She worked in various operating rooms and was head nurse in outpatient surgery when she retired in 1980.
Mrs. Gage was a volunteer at the Hospital Center and for the American Cancer Society. In November, she was to receive the society's first Helen Rubenstein award for courage.
Survivors include her husband, William M. Gage of Washington; four children, Kathryn K. Gage of Vineyard Haven, Mass., Anne G. Woodall of Tequesta, Fla., William M. Gage Jr. of Nellysford, Va., and Christina G. Sewer of Bethesda; three sisters, Margaret Wagner and Henri Perry, both of Fernandina Beach, Fla., and Josephine Wiggin of Panama City, Fla.; two brothers, Jones A. Douglass of Perryville, Md., and Robert W. Douglass of Fernandina Beach; and six grandchildren.
HENRY "CLEVE" WILLIAMS
Army Personnel Official
Henry Cleveland "Cleve" Williams, 91, a retired civilian personnel official at the Army's Cameron Station supply facility in Alexandria, died of congestive heart failure Aug. 21 at a nursing home in Panama City, Fla.
Mr. Williams, a former resident of Washington, was born in Turner County, Ga. He grew up in Panama City.
In 1917, he moved to Washington and became a messenger at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1923, he went to work at the War Department, the predecessor of the Department of the Army. His career was at the Cameron Station facility, and he retired there in 1956.
Mr. Williams returned to Panama City in 1957 and became an insurance salesman.
He was a member of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington and the Order of the Odd Fellows.
His first wife, the former Dorothy Hackett, died in 1951. His second wife, the former Ruth Bowen, died in 1974.
Survivors include his wife, Geraldine Williams of Panama City; two children by his first marriage, Helen Knudsen of Roscoe, N.Y., and Dorothy Lehman of Wheaton; a brother, Tommie J. Williams of Panama City; 14 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.