Samuel John LaSpada

Newspaper Editor

Samuel John LaSpada, 66, a longtime journalist who helped launch USA Today, died June 10 of cancer at his home in Stafford.

He joined USA Today at its inception in 1982 as assistant national editor. He held a variety of positions at the paper, including rewrite editor, editor of the paper's state news page and "set editor," in which he was the last person to see the paper's layout before it was printed.

Mr. LaSpada was born and grew up in Lockport, N.Y. He enlisted in the Navy after high school and served on the USS Corregidor, an escort carrier, and the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, in the Mediterranean 6th Fleet. He left the Navy in 1961 with the rank of petty officer second class.

Not long before his death, he told a co-worker that he was working as a truck driver when an aunt suggested that he apply for a newspaper job because he wrote eloquent letters home while in the Navy.

He joined the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, handling a variety of jobs as both reporter and photographer, then moved on to the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. From there, he went to the Buffalo Courier-Express, where he was the paper's night city editor when it folded in 1982. He then took a position at USA Today.

After retiring in 2002, he fulfilled a long-held ambition and opened LaSpada's House of Treasures, an indoor flea market and antiques store in Fredericksburg.

His marriage to Susan LaSpada ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Diane Seefeld LaSpada of Stafford; a son from his second marriage, Michael R. LaSpada of Buffalo; and two stepsons, Darin J. Mullen of Warrenton and Christopher A. Mullen of Jacksonville, Fla.

William Robert George Jr.

Oceanographic Scientist

William Robert George Jr., 57, a former senior oceanographic scientist and computer specialist with the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, died of cancer June 7 at Washington Hospice.

Mr. George was born in Richmond, Calif., and raised in Ohio. He joined the Army in 1966. Trained in communications and electronics, he was assigned to the White House Communications Agency from 1966 to 1969. There, he provided communication capabilities for the president and vice president and their families.

In 1972, switching careers, he earned a bachelor's degree in oceanography from George Washington University and joined the Naval Oceanographic Office. He analyzed how environmental factors affect naval operations, and he once photographed a new volcano erupting in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1978, he moved from Springfield to Long Beach, Miss. He later moved to Miami. He worked for government contractors at the time.

Mr. George returned to the Washington area six years ago and worked for public safety agencies as a systems administrator for 911 emergency response systems.

He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing, sailing and gardening.

Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Alice Cipriano George of Springfield; two daughters, Justine Bernthal of Huntersville, N.C., and Amy Suppes of Centreville; two brothers; and two grandchildren.

Roy F. Hyatt

Sheet Metal Worker

Roy F. "Roy O" Hyatt, 79, a retired sheet metal worker and a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union for more than 50 years, died of congestive heart failure June 9 at Southern Maryland Hospital.

Mr. Hyatt was born in Washington and raised in Silver Spring. He attended apprentice courses to learn his trade.

From 1942 to 1946, he served in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic and was stationed in Norfolk.

Mr. Hyatt lived in Lothian for more than 25 years. He was a member of the Moose Lodge in Upper Marlboro for more than 40 years.

His marriage to Dorothy Hyatt ended in divorce.

Survivors include a daughter, Sharon Anderson of Laurel; a granddaughter; and two great-grandchildren.

Helen Zinder


Helen Zinder, 99, who owned and managed real estate, helped found the Montgomery County Jewish Community Center and started a Bethesda utility consulting firm with her husband, died of respiratory failure June 14 at the Hospice House of Southwest Florida in Sarasota.

She and her husband of 55 years, Hanina "Hank" Zinder, started H. Zinder and Associates in Bethesda, now an international business that provides consulting services to the energy and other regulated industries. She was the initial bookkeeper and a board member.

Mrs. Zinder also identified, purchased and managed a large tract of farmland in Olney that was later subdivided and sold for a housing development.

She was one of a small group that founded the Bethesda Jewish Community Center. She also organized the first confirmation services, which were held in a hardware store, for six children.

When the Bethesda center merged with the Silver Spring JCC, Mrs. Zinder was one of the first two women to serve as directors of the new Montgomery County center.

She was a fundraiser for Suburban Hospital, a Montgomery County election judge, a parent-teacher association officer and a president of Hadassah.

Mrs. Zinder was born and raised in Chicago. She lived in Bethesda from 1935 to 1965, then moved to Washington, where she lived until moving to Longboat Key, Fla., in 1985.

Her husband died in 1989.

Survivors include two daughters, Ruth Anne Rubenstein of Great Neck, N.Y., and Miriam Cutler of Potomac; nine grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.

Donald C. King


Donald Corwin King, 83, who owned and operated area movie theaters and most recently sold real estate with Coldwell Banker, died June 11 at Fox Chase Nursing Home in Silver Spring of complications from a stroke last year.

Mr. King, a resident of the District, settled in the Washington area in 1946 from his home state of Massachusetts. He reopened the Mount Vernon Open Air Theatre, a drive-in on Route 1 in Alexandria.

In 1955, he opened the shuttered Avenue Grand Theatre in Washington and renamed it the Capitol Hill Theatre. He also reopened and renovated Penn Theatre on Capitol Hill.

He and film distributor Jerome Sandy renovated the Town Theatre in Washington in the late 1960s and built the Key Theatre in Georgetown about 1970.

After the 1968 riots, Mr. King found the downtown business climate unpromising and either sold or closed his businesses. He became involved in real estate and worked for C. Millicent Chatel Real Estate and then Dale Denton Real Estate, which was eventually bought by Coldwell Banker. He was working for Coldwell Banker at his death.

He was born in Everett, Mass., and served in the Army as a cryptologist in the Aleutians during World War II.

He was a Mason and formerly served on the D.C. Real Estate Commission.

He leaves no immediate survivors.

William T. Wood

Navy Department Civilian

William Thomas Wood, 80, a 37-year Navy Department civilian who retired from Naval Air Systems Command in 1978 as a mechanical engineer, died June 14 at Civista Medical Center in La Plata. He had heart disease.

Mr. Wood, a former Temple Hills resident, moved to Florida in 1978. He lived in Cape Coral, Fla.

He was born in Baltimore and raised in Washington, where he attended Eastern High School and McKinley Technical High School. He later received a general equivalency diploma.

He served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II.

His memberships included the Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Loyal Order of the Moose.

Two of his children died, Linda Mason in 1996 and William Wood Jr. in 2002.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Mary Thompson Wood of Cape Coral; two children, Edwin A. Wood of Montgomery, Vt., and Charles S. Wood of Ladson, S.C.; three brothers, Gilbert Wood of Fredericksburg, Bernard Wood of Alexandria and James Wood of Kissimmee, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

William E. Gilbert

Energy Department Statistician

William Edward Gilbert, 76, who retired from the Energy Department in the late 1980s as a statistician, died June 9 at Casey House hospice in Rockville. He had leukemia.

In the early 1950s, Mr. Gilbert joined the Atomic Energy Commission and worked for it in Oak Ridge, Tenn., before settling in the Washington area in the mid-1950s. He lived in Rockville.

He was a native of Tyrone, Pa., and a graduate of Penn State University. He served in the Navy in the late 1940s.

His marriage to Sally Osmond Gilbert ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Anne Blotzer of Rockville; two daughters from the first marriage, Leslie Gilbert of Mount Airy and Gerry Lawlor of Gaithersburg; five stepchildren; and 16 grandchildren.