Odell Daniel Polk

Postal Worker

Odell Daniel Polk, 90, a longtime District postal worker and golf enthusiast, died July 31 of cancer at his home in Washington.

Mr. Polk joined what is now the U.S. Postal Service in 1941, beginning as a mail carrier. He held a variety of other jobs during his 33-year career and participated in a time-and-motion study analyzing the most efficient ways of handling mail.

After his retirement in 1974, he worked with the D.C. public schools for several years, helping administer standardized tests.

Mr. Polk was born in Center Point, Ark. A cousin, Ruth Polk Patterson, chronicled his family's history in the 1985 book "The Seeds of Sally Good'n: A Black Family in Arkansas, 1833-1953."

He graduated from Philander Smith College in Little Rock in 1938 with a bachelor's degree in history and social studies. As a student, Mr. Polk was a member of the first chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in Arkansas.

He was a member of his college's vocal quartet and sextet and sang spirituals, hymns and popular music at schools, churches and community centers throughout the South and Midwest. He performed on radio several times and, in 1938, sang at a political rally in Chicago's Soldier Field before 75,000 people.

In 1939, Mr. Polk moved to Washington, where he did graduate work in history at American University and Catholic University.

Since the late 1950s, he had been an enthusiastic golfer, playing three or four times a week. He was a member of several golf organizations, including the Squires and Monday Morning clubs and the Pro Duffers Golf Club East. In the 1960s, he was captain of the first African American team admitted to the Federal Golf Association, an organization of federal workers devoted to golf. He played in tournaments throughout the country and won his last championship in 1999, when he was 85.

Mr. Polk belonged to several social clubs and was a member of the Pigskin Club of Washington, a sports-oriented social service organization that raises money for scholarships. He was a member of the Urban League and the NAACP. He was also a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in the District.

He and his wife traveled widely throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. He also enjoyed reading and gardening.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Lucille Norman Polk of Washington; two children, Dr. Norman O. Polk of Honolulu and Loretta Polk of Washington; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Rochelle Victoria Rowlette


Rochelle Victoria Rowlette, 51, who practiced law in Washington for 20 years, died Aug. 1 of cancer at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She lived in the District.

After moving to Washington in 1984, she operated her own law practice, specializing in civil and criminal litigation and real estate law.

She was also a contract lawyer for the National Senior Citizens Law Center in Washington. She was one of the lawyers in a successful class-action suit charging the U.S. Agency for International Development with age discrimination in dismissing employees in the 1990s.

Ms. Rowlette was born on Long Island, N.Y., and grew up outside Chicago. She was a graduate of Mundelein College, now part of Loyola University in Chicago, and John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She practiced law in Chicago before coming to Washington.

She helped revitalize the Crestwood Citizens Association in the District, serving as its president in 1989 and 1990. She helped organize a neighborhood watch and a neighborhood fair, and received a commendation for community service from the D.C. police. She was also a founding member of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance and Forest Hills Citizens Association.

She volunteered at Georgetown Day School, which her children attended, and chaired the school's charity auction and book fair.

Ms. Rowlette was a member of genealogical and historical organizations and traveled across the country to explore her family's lineage. She was also a member of the Wedgwood Society of Washington, a Wedgwood pottery appreciation group.

Survivors include her husband of 20 years, Raymond C. Fay, and three children, Meredith Leigh Fay, Alexandra Victoria Fay and Tyler Courtland Fay, all of Washington; four sisters; and a brother.

John L. Howard

Information Technology Executive

John L. Howard, 60, a Washington area information technology marketing executive and business owner, died July 30 of a stroke after hip replacement surgery at Reston Hospital Center.

A Vienna resident, Mr. Howard was born in the District and graduated from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Wheaton in 1962. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia in 1966.

He began a career in marketing with IBM that year, and in the early 1970s managed federal sales for Lexitron. An expert on methods for conducting feasibility studies, systems design and systems evaluation, he founded Wordpro Inc., an information technology company, in 1976.

When WPI was acquired by Reston-based SI International in 2000, Mr. Howard was appointed executive vice president of account sales. In April 2004, he announced plans for retirement.

A fisherman and boater who spent many happy hours on the Chesapeake Bay on his boat, Lotus Blossom, Mr. Howard liked telling stories and hosting large gatherings for friends, family and associates. His Moluccan cockatoo, Ethel, was invariably perched on his shoulder.

He also was a director and supporter of numerous athletic, educational and charitable organizations, including the Hopkins House Foundation in Alexandria and the Spinal Cord Injury Network of Metropolitan Washington Inc. At the network's annual dinner for the homeless on the Saturday before Christmas, Mr. Howard played Santa Claus, a role he often played at family and business gatherings over the years.

Mr. Howard's marriage to Joan Quigley Howard ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of five years, Marty Engle Howard of Vienna; three children from his first marriage, Kevin Lee Howard of Bethesda, Michael Patrick Howard of Rockville and Kelly Ann Howard of Stratford, Conn.; a stepdaughter, Samantha Jo Engle of Vienna; two sisters, Mary Howard of New York City and Anne O'Connor of Madison, Conn.; two brothers, Dr. James Howard of Omaha and Joseph Howard of Poolesville; and two granddaughters.

Diane Lee Wiseman Gay

Foreign Affairs Specialist

Diane Lee Wiseman Gay, 58, a foreign affairs specialist in the Department of Defense, died of cancer July 29 at her home in Burke.

The daughter of a career naval officer, Ms. Gay was born in Opa-Locka, Fla. During her childhood, she lived in 11 states and the Philippines. She was a resident of the Washington area for the past 22 years.

She received a bachelor's degree in business in 1968 and a master's of business administration degree in 1972, both from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to taking a position at the Pentagon in 1980, she worked for the Federal Reserve Board in Dallas and in New York City for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She also received an education policy fellowship from George Washington University in 1979-80 and a master's degree in security studies from Georgetown University in 1985.

In 1996, she became a foreign affairs specialist in the office of the secretary of defense, undersecretary for policy. Her job was to oversee the budget for all nuclear forces, strategic submarines, bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and the means to communicate with them. It was also part of her job to ensure that if the president needed to communicate with those forces, he would be able to.

Ms. Gay was a member of Pohick Episcopal Church in Lorton. She enjoyed gardening and played the piano and accordion.

Her husband, Howard Gay, preceded her in death.

Survivors include her parents, Frederick and Mary Wiseman of Cocoa Beach, Fla; two brothers; and a sister.

Claudius Thomas


Claudius Thomas, 75, a Washington surgeon for nearly 40 years, died July 19 of multiple myeloma at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. He lived in the District.

Dr. Thomas, who came to this country from his native Grenada in the early 1950s, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He graduated from Howard's medical school in 1961.

After completing a four-year residency in general surgery at Howard University Hospital, he had a private surgical practice in Washington until 2001. He also held a simultaneous position with the D.C. Health Department and for a time was a staff surgeon at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Dr. Thomas offered free care to patients unable to pay. He returned each year to Grenada, offering medical diagnoses and other care on a voluntary basis.

In his youth, he was an outstanding cyclist and soccer player. He taught school in Grenada before coming to Washington to continue his education.

Dr. Thomas was a diplomate of the American Board of Surgeons, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the National Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the D.C. Medical Society. He also volunteered in the D.C. public schools, often appearing at high school career counseling sessions.

In private life, he was a skilled photographer and enjoyed building frames for his landscape photographs, which he sometimes sold for charity. He also enjoyed gardening and grew flowers, vegetables and corn in his back yard.

He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in the District.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Inez Thomas of Washington; three daughters, Claudia Thomas Navolio and Alyce Jean Thomas, both of Washington, and Carol Thomas of New York; a granddaughter; and four sisters.

Bernard Cleveland Perkins

Trucking Company Founder

Bernard Cleveland Perkins, 83, founder of B.C. Perkins and Sons Trucking, died after a heart attack July 31 at his home in Washington.

Mr. Perkins was born in Pittsylvania County, Va., and worked on the family farm as a youth. As a teenager, he went to work at Dan River Mills, leaving in 1942, when he enlisted in the Army. During World War II, he served in Europe.

He married after the war and started the trucking firm in 1947. He was still working there at the time of his death.

He was a member of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, serving on the men's usher board and its Virginia club.

His wife of 54 years, Clara Perkins, died in 2000, exactly four years before him.

Survivors include five children, Bernard Perkins Jr. of Largo, Walter Perkins of College Park and Lorenzo Perkins, Sheila Hawkes and Rondala Perkins, all of Washington; two brothers, Gaylord and Luther L. Perkins, both of Washington; five sisters, Obelia P. Fitzgerald of Chatham, Va., Inez P. Foster of Martinsville, Geneva P. Dickerson of Rockville and Annie P. Clark and Lovelyn P. Thompson, both of Danville, Va.; and nine grandchildren.

Garabad 'Gary' Arkoian

Program Analyst

Garabad "Gary" Arkoian, 82, a retired program analyst with the Department of Education's Office of the General Counsel, died July 23 at his home in Clifton. He had cancer.

Mr. Arkoian was born in Pawtucket, R.I. He moved to Washington in 1941 and worked for the patent office in the Commerce Department in 1942 and later the Labor Department's War Labor Board.

He served in the U.S. Maritime Service during World War II. After the war, he attended George Washington University, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1949. He then worked for the Army Map Service, the Department of the Air Force, the National Security Agency, Commerce, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and Education.

Mr. Arkoian enjoyed bridge, sports cars, dancing, art and music in many forms, including big band, jazz and opera. He was a contract bridge life master. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Annandale and the Clifton Lions Club. He was president of the Acacia Fraternity in college. He was a Redskins fan and a booster of his children's high school and boys club sports.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Priscilla Lynn Arkoian of Clifton; five children from her first marriage, Rebecca Shankle Giller of Frederick, Holly Shankle Timm of Mallorca, Spain, Deborah Shankle of Clifton, Wade Levan Shankle of Oak Hill and Mark Chandos Shankle of Centreville; a son, Michael Garabad Arkoian of Virginia Beach; a brother, Paul Arkoian of Wheaton; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.