Mary R. Carlsen

Church Activist

Mary Roberta Carlsen, 78, a retired government worker who was active in church organizations, died Oct. 16 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital after a stroke. She had lived in Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg for the past decade.

Mrs. Carlsen was a 50-year member of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Washington, where she had chaired the social concerns committee and the church's administrative council.

She also helped organize its geriatric day-care center and other ministries and was elected to the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In the 1970s and '80s, she had been active in the N Street Village, a program for homeless women.

In the past 25 years, she had been a volunteer at Asbury Methodist Village. She had served as president of the Asbury Guild Conference and a member of the village board of directors.

Mrs. Carlsen also had served as president of the family council of Asbury's Wilson Health Care Center and had managed the Asbury gift shop.

Mrs. Carlsen, a former resident of Hyattsville and Leisure World in Silver Spring, was born in Oklahoma.

She came to Washington and began her career in federal housing in 1941.

She retired in 1970 as an administrative worker in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

From 1970 to 1980, she co-owned Peeler's Dry Cleaners in Riverdale with her husband.

Survivors include her husband, Roger S. Carlsen of Gaithersburg; a daughter, Nancy Carlsen of Columbia; and a granddaughter.

Alan B. Sevin


Alan B. Sevin, 37, owner of Landscapes By the Yard in Fort Washington, died of cancer Oct. 21 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mr. Sevin, who was born in Baton Rouge, La., grew up in Fort Washington and graduated from Friendly High School in Oxon Hill in 1980. He graduated with an associate's degree from Prince George's Community College and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland. After working as a Coca-Cola vending supervisor, he joined Landscapes By the Yard in 1993, then bought the business four years later.

His hobbies included astronomy, archaeology, skiing, golf, hunting and playing the drums. He also played in a coed softball league in Charles County.

Survivors include his wife of 12 years, the former Kimberly Kibat, and their daughter, Taylor Sitare Sevin, both of Fort Washington; his parents, Nancy and Ali Sevin of Fort Washington; a brother, Erol Sevin of Springfield; and two sisters, Darlene Sampson of Golden Beach, Md., and Edna Walker of Lawton, Okla.

Lois Hussong DeRoberts


Lois Hussong DeRoberts, 88, a librarian who worked at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean for 16 years before retiring in 1976, died Oct. 17 at her home in McLean after a stroke.

Mrs. DeRoberts, who had lived in McLean since 1958, was born in Chattanooga and was raised in Buffalo. She earned undergraduate degrees from Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y., and the University of Buffalo.

A lifelong Episcopalian, she was a member of St. Helena's Guild at St. John's Episcopal Church in McLean. She was also the church's librarian for 25 years until the mid-1980s and was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma honorary society.

Her husband, Francis R. DeRoberts, died in 1981. Survivors include a son, Richard Ogden DeRoberts of Wardensville, W.Va.

Helen Frances Bowen

Native Washingtonian

Helen Frances Bowen, 71, a native Washingtonian who was a teller at Hamilton National Bank in the 1940s, died Oct. 19 at Valley Care Hospital in Pleasanton, Calif., after a stroke. She lived in Dublin, Calif.

Mrs. Bowen moved to California after her marriage in 1948 to Gordon R. Bowen,. Mr. Bowen died in 1993.

Survivors include five children, George Bowen of San Ramon, Calif., Richard Bowen of Dublin, Dori Ciglar Pollard Fox and Marsha Cordtz, both of Pleasanton, and Debbie Desimone of Castro Valley, Calif.; two sisters, Jeanne A. Kardaras of Springfield and Mary Ellen Merchant of Manassas; and 12 grandchildren.

Robert B. Nelson Jr.

Washington Physician

Robert Burwell Nelson Jr., 89, who practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Washington for 40 years before retiring in 1986, died of pneumonia Oct. 17 at the Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. The former Silver Spring resident had lived in Charlottesville for the past nine years.

In addition to his private medical practice, he also served for a time as obstetrics department chairman and medical staff president of the Washington Hospital Center.

He was a past medical director of the Washington Planned Parenthood Association and a founder of the Hospital Center's women's clinic.

Dr. Nelson, who was born in Blacksburg, Va., was a graduate of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, the University of Virginia and the university's medical school.

During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces in the Mediterranean as a flight surgeon and later retired from the Air Force Reserve as a colonel.

His military decorations included the Bronze Star.

Survivors include his wife, the former Susanne Wickes, of Charlottesville; a son; two daughters; a brother; a sister; and a granddaughter.

Henry Bress

Navy Captain

Henry Bress, 79, a retired Navy captain who was also a longtime civilian staff consultant with the Naval Research Laboratory, died of leukemia and kidney failure Oct. 5 at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Capt. Bress, a Bethesda resident, was born in Norfolk. Upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1943, he served as an assistant navigator and antiaircraft director aboard a light cruiser in the Solomon Islands.

During the latter part of the war, he was a gunnery and torpedo officer on submarines.

His post-World War II assignments included commands of submarines and a destroyer. In the Vietnam War, he was commanding officer of the command and communications ship Annapolis. He retired in 1970 as head of the radar, navigation and astronautics branch of the office of the chief of naval operations.

He then began a 27-year civilian career with the Naval Research Laboratory, pursuing radar and radio communication projects, which he originally started during his days on active duty.

Before retiring in 1997, he was the laboratory's scientific technical intelligence liaison officer with the intelligence community and a contributor to the development of satellite navigation programs.

His military honors included the Legion of Merit. His other awards included the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth Ann Bress of Bethesda; two daughters, Toni Lee Blate of Montgomery Village and Lou Ann Barnwell of Potomac; a brother, retired Navy Capt. Allyn V. Bress of Chevy Chase; a sister, Florence Karp of Portsmouth, Va.; and five grandchildren.

Fern B. Matthews

Lifelong Area Resident

Fern B. Matthews, 68, a lifelong Washington area resident who had been a stenographer with the Post Office Department from 1949 to 1956, died Oct. 22 at Holy Cross Hospital. She had cancer and a heart ailment.

Mrs. Matthews, who lived in Silver Spring, was a Washington native and a 1949 graduate of McKinley Technical High School.

Over the years, she had been active in the Calverton Swim Club and the PTA of Galway Elementary School.

She had a vacation home in Ocean Pines, Md.

Survivors include her husband of 49 years, John Matthews Jr. of Silver Spring; a son, John III, of Elkridge; two daughters, Helen Etherson of Temple Hills and Marlie Dean of Eldersburg; a brother, Granville Brown of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and nine grandchildren.

Elsa Tavenner Smith

Chevy Chase Resident

Elsa Tavenner Smith, 85, a Chevy Chase resident who was a member of the Fourth Presbyterian Church there, died Oct. 22 at the Washington Home. She had liver failure.

Mrs. Smith was born in Moline, Ill., the daughter of U.S. Rep. Clyde Howard Tavenner (D-Ill.), and grew up in Washington. She was a 1932 graduate of Central High School and attended the Washington School for Secretaries and George Washington University.

She was a secretary for the Federal Housing Administration in the mid-1930s.

She lived in the Midwest during World War II and in Kensington from 1946 to 1972. She then lived in Denver before returning to the Washington area and settling in Chevy Chase in 1978.

During her years in Kensington, Mrs. Smith had been a member of the Kensington Woman's Club and Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church. Her hobbies included gardening and duplicate bridge.

Her husband of 55 years, Homer Grove Smith, died in 1993. Survivors include four children, Linda Smith of Gambrills, Carla Moxon of Glendale, Calif., Greta Kotler of Washington and Martin Homer Smith of Seattle; a brother, Clyde H. Tavenner of Rockville; and seven grandchildren.

Dietra L. Ford

Business Development Official

Dietra L. Ford, 52, associate administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Enterprise Development, which provides assistance to small and minority-owned business, died of liver failure Oct. 21 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mrs. Ford had held the presidentially appointed job at GSA since 1996. Earlier, she served three years as executive director of the Thrift Depositor Protection Oversight Board.

A former Capitol Hill staff member, she served on the 1992 presidential transition team and headed a small group charged with assessing seven federal agencies in preparation for the new administration.

She was a native Washingtonian and a graduate of McKinley Tech High School and Howard University. She received a master's degree in urban planning from Boston University.

From 1975 to 1993, she was a senior legislative associate with the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on the District of Columbia.

Her other activities included serving on the board of trustees of Sibley Memorial Hospital and on the advisory board of the Women's National Bank. She also was a past delegate to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church and an active member of Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington.

Her marriage to William R. Ford ended in divorce.

Survivors include a daughter, Kim R. Ford of Washington, and her mother, Alethea P. Leake of Silver Spring.