THE OBITUARY OF LEON EDWARD WRIGHT, WHICH APPEARED SEPT. 4 IN THE POST, OMITTED HIS WIFE OF NINE YEARS, THE REV. DOROTHY MCKINNEY WRIGHT, FROM THE LIST OF SURVIVORS. (PUBLISHED 9/07/96)
Brother Adam, 98, a British Benedictine monk who took charge of his monastery's ailing honeybee population during World War I and went on to become one of the world's greatest authorities on bee-raising before being forced into retirement in 1992, died of unreported causes Sept. 1.
Brother Adam, who was born Karl Kehrle in the old German Kingdom of Wurttemberg, died at a nursing home near Buckfast Abbey, the Benedictine monastery in Devon, England, where he had been sent by his mother when he was 12.
In 1915, the then sent Brother Adam to the part of the monastery where bees were raised for their honey, largely for the monks' consumption. In 1919, Brother Adam became a full monk. By then, he was something of a "king" bee. He recalled in a 1992 newspaper interview that, in 1918, "all the bees in Britain were destroyed by a disease they got from a parasite."
Shrugging off such problems as world war and Greek-Turkish strife, Brother Adam went on to say: "That's when I went out to Asia Minor and found a nice friendly bee in Turkey. That got me interested in breeding queens resistant to disease."
Brother Adam took to his role of beekeeper with an almost otherworldly enthusiasm and success. His bee cross-breeding resulted in the legendary "BuckfastSuperbee," claimed by many authorities to be the hardiest and most prolific honey producer ever bred.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Agriculture Department turned to Brother Adam for help when honey production in the United States was severly curtailed by acarine disease, a viral infection that had crippled British honey production 75 years before. The monk sent off shipments of special Buckfast queen bees that saved the day. His acarine-resistant bees are said to have earned his abbey more than $30,000 a year and is said to have had a worldwide effect on honey production.
During the years, Brother Adam traveled more than 100,000 miles in search of bees, visiting Asia, continental Europe and North America. He traveled by car, donkey and foot. Before World War II, he had even searched for bees in the Sahara. From the early 1950s to early 1980s, he concentrated his searches in the Mediterranean world and the Middle East.
Only eight years ago, he traveled to Africa, where a fellow researcher carried him on a bamboo chair strapped to his back up Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. Their quest in search for the area's Monticola bee was filmed for television.
As his fame spread, Brother Adam's honors increased. He was awarded honorary science doctorates from universities in Sweden and Britain. In 1974, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
Perhaps another measure of fame came to light in 1982, when police issued a nationwide alert for two queen bees and 11 combs with worker bees and drones, all stolen from Brother Adam's lab at the abbey.
The kidnap victims, who had been genetically engineered from Buckfast and Greek strains by Brother Adam over a nine-year period, were memorably described by police as "three-quarters of an inch in length, with dark brown and dark gray stripes."
Police were reported to have mobilized an estimated 4,000 Devon beekeepers to help in the search.
As time marched on, it took its toll on Brother Adam. He maintained something of a distracted air, with his white hair and the German accent he never lost. By the early 1990s, Brother Adam, who had been decribed as "selectively deaf" by some of his superiors, also had trouble keeping his balance and had developed cataracts. A group of French beekeepers, chagrined that the famed monk might have to give up bees, came up with more than $5,000 to secure the services of one of France's leading eye surgeons.
Then, in 1992, disaster struck. A new abbot took charge and ruled that what was described as genetic engineering foolishness had to stop. From then on, bees were only to be raised for honey to be used by the monks or sold at its gift shop. Breeders on four continents were outraged, venting their anger to both the specialized and general press.
Brother Adam's search for an "environmentally green" bee that would end the need for chemical additives to European honey had to be abandoned. Many felt his work close to success.
He was the author of seven books, three of which are regarded as classics: "Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey," "In Search of the Best Strains of Bees" and "Breeding the Honeybee."
On his "retirement," a popular plaint was that Brother Adam would not last long without his bees and that he had enormous knowledge that he had yet to share. The monk disagreed, saying everything he knew was in his books but that "I may have forgotten one or two things and didn't put them in my articles. . . . Lot of mystery in bees, you know." LEON E. WRIGHT Howard University Professor
Leon Edward Wright, 84, who served on the faculty of Howard University for 33 years before retiring in 1978 as a professor of New Testament classical languages and literature, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 23 at his home in Washington.
Dr. Wright, who joined the Howard faculty in 1945, also had been a Congregationalist minister. From 1955 to 1957, he served as cultural attache to Burma, and from 1950 to 1965, he was an associate editor of Howard's "Journal of Religious Thought."
Dr. Wright was an authority on Buddhist meditation and had taught workshops in meditation. His original courses at Howard included "The New Testament and Parapsychology." The year 1978 saw the publication of his book, "From Cult to Cosmos: Can Jesus Be Saved?"
He was named a "distinguished professor" at Howard and had lectured at American University and the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria. He had been a member of the NAACP and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Dr. Wright, who was born in Boston, was orphaned at the age of 12. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Boston University, from which he also received a master's degree in the history and philosophy of religion. He also received a sacred theology degree in 1943 from Harvard Divinity School and a Harvard doctorate in 1945 in the history and philosophy of religion.
His wife, Jessie Mae Wyche Wright, whom he married in 1938, died in 1986. Survivors include two sons, Richard L. and Edward W. Wright, both of Washington. FRANCOIS De MONTEQUIN Architectural Historian
Francois De Montequin, 47, a former professor of art history who had been president of Lewmont Institute, a Washington research and restoration firm, died Aug. 20 at George Washington University Hospital. He had AIDS.
Dr. De Montequin, who lived in Washington since 1993, was born in Santa Clara, Cuba. He began his career in 1973 as a professor of art history at the University of New Mexico, where he had graduated and received a doctorate in architectural history.
He also had taught at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.; Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; the University of Georgia; and Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the years, he had written six textbooks on architectural history, including "Muslim Architecture of the Iberian Peninsula," which was published in 1987.
He immigrated to the United States when he was 10 and spent some time in refugee camps in Miami and New Mexico before being reunited with his family.
Survivors include his companion, David L. Vetal of Washington; two sisters, Judy Ball of Bethesda and Lourdes Barros of Beverly Hills, Calif.; a brother, George Barros of Miami; and his grandmother, Mercedes De Montequin of Albuquerque. FRANCIS XAVIER POWELL Catholic University Professor
Francis Xavier Powell, 67, a professor of physical chemistry who retired in 1989 after 25 years with Catholic University, died of a cardiovascular disorder Aug. 31 at Randolph Hills Nursing Home in Silver Spring.
Dr. Powell, a longtime resident of Silver Spring, moved to the nursing home last month. He was born in Pocahontas, Ark., and graduated from the University of California at Berkley. He came to the Washington area in 1958 and received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Maryland.
In the 1970s and 1980s, he was a consultant to the Naval Research Laboratory.
He was a member of the Society of the Sigma Xi.
Survivors include his wife, Lucy Powell of Silver Spring; a daughter, Roseanne Lindsay of San Diego; a brother; and two grandchildren. ALEXANDER POLETT Public Relations Executive
Alexander Polett, 78, the former director of public relations for home builder Levitt & Sons Inc. during the 1950s and 1960s, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Sept. 1 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Polett, who lived in Rockville, was born in New York and graduated from Brooklyn College. He received a master's degree in history from Harvard.
During World War II, he served in the Army, then returned to New York, where he was a writer for Tide magazine.
Later, he worked in advertising and public relations for the Carl Byoir Agency, where his major client was William J. Levitt, owner and president of Levitt & Sons, which was commencing construction of the first Levittown residential housing development on Long Island, N.Y.
In 1951, Mr. Polett joined Levitt's staff and directed its public and government relations department. His projects included the Levitt development in Bowie. He left Levitt & Sons when the company was sold to International Telephone and Telegraph Co. in 1967, but then joined William J. Levitt Jr. in a new housing and commercial development in Prince George's County, Levitt Properties Inc. He was based in Philadelphia at the time, but he relocated to the Washington area in 1970. He retired from Levitt Properties in 1980.
His avocations included skiing, swimming, hiking and writing poetry.
Survivors include his wife, Louise R. Polett of Rockville; two children, JoAlison Polett of New York and Zachary Polett of Little Rock; a sister, Freda Lebovici of West Newton, Mass.; and two grandchildren. LAWRENCE L. WARE Jr. Medical Microbiologist
Lawrence L. Ware Jr., 75, a medical microbiologist who retired as medical information officer for the Army Research and Development Command, died Aug. 30 at a hospital in Hollywood, Fla. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Ware, who lived in Fairfax, was born in Montgomery, W.Va.
He graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago. During World War II, he was a Navy medical corpsman with the Seabees in New Guinea.
He was a medical microbiologist with the Army biological warfare project in Frederick, Md., from 1951 to 1959, then was laboratory director for Indian Hospital in Phoenix from 1959 to 1965. He returned to the Washington area in 1966 as medical information officer for the Army Research and Development Command, and he retired from that position in 1986.
Mr. Ware was a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a former president of Sigma Xi honorary society. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He had done volunteer work for Yesterday's Rose Thrift Shop in Fairfax.
In recent years, he spent winters in Florida.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth Fisher Ware of Fairfax; three children, David A. Ware of Annandale, Ken R. Ware of Salt Lake City and Barbara Mankuta of Coral Springs, Fla.; a brother; a sister; and two grandchildren. WALTER P. KETTERER Geological Survey Official
Walter P. Ketterer, 80, who retired in 1978 as chief of the scientific publications program of the U.S. Geological Survey, died of kidney failure Aug. 17 at the Hospice of Northern Virginia.
Mr. Ketterer, a Reston resident since 1973, joined the Geological Survey in 1961, working with its military geology unit. He later worked as a principal editor and as chief of the Office of Scientific Publications.
He was a native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology. He received a master's degree in geology from Syracuse University.
Mr. Ketterer worked as an exploration geologist for Gulf Oil Corp. before serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war, he continued his work with Gulf Oil and then joined Sohio Petroleum Co.
He was a member of the Association of Earth Science Editors, Geological Society of America, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Geological Society of Washington and Sigma Xi. He was a founder of the Geological Division Retirees Organization.
His first wife, Elizabeth Glen Harris Ketterer, died in 1962, and his second wife, Rivian Berman Ketterer, died in 1979.
Survivors include a companion, Barbara Burleson of Reston. DEBORAH H. BRISSEY Operation Manager
Deborah Handel Brissey, 39, a military and data systems operation manager in Reston with Lockheed Martin Corp., died of cancer Sept. 1 at her home in Springfield.
Mrs. Brissey, a graduate of Georgetown University, received a master's degree in computer science from Pennsylvania State University. In 1982, in her native Pennsylvania, she joined a division of General Electric Co. that later was sold to Lockheed Martin. She had worked in the Washington area since moving here in 1987.
Survivors include her husband, Wayne, and a son, Eric, both of Springfield; her parents, Ruth and Raymond Handel of Ormond Beach, Fla.; and six sisters, Tracy Handel of Berkeley, Calif., Allison Walter of Ponte Vedra, Fla., Cheryl Marmer of Havertown, Pa., Kimberly Bulkley of Warwick, N.Y., Kathleen Hullinger of Reading, Pa., and Mary Ellen Ferrandez of Coral Gables, Fla.