William Joseph Sando, 98, a retired Agriculture Department agronomist who was an American pioneer in wheat genetics, died Nov. 28 of pneumonia at Providence Hospital. He had lived in Washington since 1900.

Mr. Sando worked for 50 years developing disease-resistant strains of wheat, crossing wheat genes with those of wild grasses. The germ plasma he developed is still used by grain researchers in this country and abroad.

His early work on wheat genetics, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s, brought him national attention, including a citation from then-Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace. A drawing of Mr. Sando's hands, shown pollinating wheat, once appeared on the cover of Nation's Business magazine to illustrate a story about breakthroughs in agriculture research.

Mr. Sando joined the Agriculture Department in 1909 as a messenger. He later assisted a plant geneticist, William Jasper Spillman, then became a full-time research assistant with the department in 1916. Five years later, he joined the department's Bureau of Plant Industry and worked on wheat strains there and later at the department's Beltsville research station. He formally retired from the department in the early 1960s, but continued as a reseach collaborator for a decade.

Mr. Sando was a native of Bernville, Pa., and a graduate of Washington's old Business High School. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in agriculture at the University of Maryland. He served with the Army in France during World War I.

Survivors include his wife, Emma L. Sando; his son, William Jasper Sando of Alexandria; two grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.


AEC Metallurgist

Robert Carson Dalzell, 84, a retired Atomic Energy Commission metallurgist, died of respiratory ailments Dec. 2 at Arlington Hospital.

Dr. Dalzell, who lived in Arlington, was born in Beaumont, Tex., and reared in Baltimore. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and received a master's degree and a doctorate in metallurgy from Harvard University.

Before World War II, he worked in New Jersey and Baltimore for several companies, including Revere Copper and Brass Inc. During the war, he worked in Detroit and Chicago on the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.

After the war, he joined the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission and in 1950 moved to the Washington area. He managed the commission's research and development programs for metals used in nuclear reactors, and in this capacity represented the AEC at national and international conferences. He was U.S. scientific secretary to the first International Conference for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.

Dr. Dalzell had also represented the AEC on the nuclear standards board executive committee of the American Standards Association and had served on the U.S. delegation to the International Organization of Standardization. He retired from the AEC in 1961.

He was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the Washington Academy of Sciences, the honorary engineering fraternity of Tau Beta Pi and the Cosmos Club.

He was a former chairman of the board of trustees of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

His wife of 59 years, Margaret Cromwell Dalzell, died in 1988. Survivors include two children, Margaret A. Thomas of Rockville and Robert C. Dalzell Jr. of Alexandria; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


Foreign Service Officer

Edmond H. Hoben, 85, a retired State Department Foreign Service officer who spent his career dealing with housing questions in Latin America, died of cardiopulmonary failure Dec. 1 at the Hermitage nursing home in Alexandria. He lived in Washington.

He served with the State Department and the Agency for International Development, both in Washington and in Latin America, from 1953 until retiring in 1974.

Mr. Hoben was a native of Detroit and an architecture graduate of the University of Michigan. He worked in public housing in Michigan and Minnesota and helped found the National Association of Housing Officials before coming to Washington in the 1930s. Before joining State, he worked for the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency.

Survivors include his wife, the former Katherine Hunter, whom he married in 1941 and who lives in Washington; two sons, John, of Berkeley, Calif., and James, of Alexandria; two daughters, Karen Hoben of Washington and Gail Hoben of Sunnyvale, Calif.; a brother, John, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; a sister, Elizabeth H. Brown of Milwaukee; and four grandchildren.


Justice Department Official

John B. Pickett, 48, an official of the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department's criminal justice research organization, died of an aneurysm Dec. 3 at Mount Vernon Hospital. He lived in Alexandria.

At the time of his death, he was director of the planning and management staff in the office of the institute's director. He began his Justice Department career in 1970 with its Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

Mr. Pickett, who came to the Washington area in 1968, was born in Chicago. He graduated from Northwestern University with a political science degree and received a master's degree in public administration from New York University. He served in the Army from 1961 to 1964.

He was the recipient of Justice Department outstanding performance and special achievement awards and a 1978 presidential certificate of appreciation.

He had been an official with the Northern Virginia Swim League.

Survivors include his wife, the former Diane Nichols, and two children, Jessica Ruth and John Montgomery Pickett, all of Alexandria; a brother, James C., of Seattle; and two sisters, Abbie Stewart of Everett, Wash., and Louisa P. Weingart of Katonah, N.Y.


Commerce Department Official

Newton Downing, 69, retired chief liaison officer for the office of the secretary of commerce, died Nov. 30 of a heart attack at George Washington University Hospital. He had cancer.

A resident of Woodbridge, Mr. Downing had lived in this area since 1946.

He retired in 1987 after seven years as chief liaison officer and 17 years with the federal government. He also served as special assistant to the director of Commerce's Office of Minority Business Enterprise, and as regional director of that office.

From 1970 to 1974 he was deputy director of Project Outreach for the Small Business Administration. His previous work was as a salesman and wholesale distributor of beauty and barber supplies and equipment.

Mr. Downing was a native of Sumneytown, Pa., and a 1947 graduate of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Army during World War II.

He was a past president of the Rippon Landing Homeowners Association in Woodbridge.

His first wife, Madeline Downing, died in 1973.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Yvonne Downing of Woodbridge; four children by his first marriage, Damien Downing of Fort Washington, Jan Downing of Norfolk, Lisa Downing of Alexandria and Lauren Downing of Washington; two stepsons, Edward Staggers of the Bronx, N.Y., and Brian Staggers of Woodbridge; two sisters, A. Celestine Jett of Sumneytown and Helen Wood of Trenton, N.J.; four brothers, Gordon Downing of Norristown, Pa., Cedric Downing of Trenton, Reginald Downing of Sumneytown and Richard Downing of Norristown; and four grandchildren.