Margaret 'Peggy' McGowan

Homemaker, Former Marine

Margaret "Peggy" McGowan, 74, a homemaker and former Marine, died Aug. 18 of complications from surgery for a thoracic aneurysm at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Mrs. McGowan was born Margaret Poland in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. In 1947, after graduating from high school, she joined the Marine Corps and served until 1953 as an administrative WAC in Washington and other duty stations on the East Coast. While serving as a Marine, she met and married Master Gunnery Sgt. Arthur James "Mac" McGowan.

As her son Collin McGowan recalled, his mother probably would have made the Marines a career had there not already been a career Marine in the family.

Mrs. McGowan's job became raising five boys and setting up the household each time her husband was reassigned to at least 13 Marine training centers.

In 1977, after Sgt. McGowan's retirement, the family moved to Aquia Harbour, a private community near Stafford.

In her late thirties and early forties, she became a semiprofessional figure skater, performing primarily at the Fairfax Ice Arena.

In 1985, Mrs. McGowan graduated summa cum laude from Northern Virginia Community College with a fine arts degree. Her specialties were painting, abstract mobiles and clay.

A member of Saint William of York Catholic Church in Stafford and a former member of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Woodbridge, Mrs. McGowan regularly volunteered at her church on Thanksgiving, helping prepare the meal for priests, nuns and the less fortunate.

Mrs. McGowan was preceded in death by her husband in 1988 and by a daughter, Patricia Ann McGowan, in 1951.

Survivors include five sons, Shawn Patrick McGowan of Memphis, Mark Allen McGowan of Montebello, Va., Collin James McGowan of Arlington, Todd Andrew McGowan of Ashburn and Brian Matthew McGowan of Aquia Harbour; eight grandchildren; and a sister.

Joseph E. Zaice

Army Colonel

Joseph E. Zaice, 76, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who provided protection to nine secretaries of Defense, died Aug. 14 at his home in Alexandria after a heart attack.

Col. Zaice, a native of Elmsford, N.Y., was drafted into the Army in 1946. He received an ROTC commission upon graduation from Seton Hall College in 1952. His postings included Fort Gordon, Ga., Fort Bragg, N.C., Hawaii, Japan, Korea and the Pentagon. He attended the Command and General Staff College and Washington State University, where he received a master's degree in police science in 1962.

In 1968, Col. Zaice retired from the Army as an assistant to the secretary of Defense in charge of personal security. He continued on in that position as a civilian, protecting Defense secretaries from Clark Clifford to Frank C. Carlucci, before retiring in 1988.

A golfer for more than 35 years, he made three holes-in-one. In retirement, he enjoyed the outdoors, bird-watching and supporting the Washington Redskins.

His marriage to Betty Ann Kearns Zaice ended in divorce.

Survivors include four daughters, Patricia Klass of Denver, Margaret Zaice of Madison, Ala., Nancy Zaice of Columbia, S.C., and Carol Cammett of Alexandria; and four grandchildren.

Irene Gassen Weiss


Irene Gassen Weiss, 88, a retired elementary school teacher and a longtime member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, died Aug. 18 of congestive heart failure at Fairfax Nursing Center.

Mrs. Weiss was born in New York City and graduated from Hunter College in 1936. She received a master's degree from Hofstra University in the late 1950s. She taught elementary school in Lynbrook, N.Y., for 25 years before retiring and moving to Vienna in 1979.

As a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and an admirer of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, she often traveled out of state to attend site dedications for Save America's Treasures, a Trust program originally chaired by Clinton that seeks to preserve such national treasures as the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to the national anthem; Valley Forge, Pa.; Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park; and Eleanor Roosevelt's Hyde Park home, Val-Kill. She also was active in the Northern Virginia Ethical Society.

Survivors include her husband of 68 years, Joseph A. Weiss of Vienna; a daughter, Bobbie Greene McCarthy of the District; a son, Jeff Weiss of East Calais, Vt.; two grandsons; and one great-grandson.

Walter Hills Verdier

Weapons Engineer

Walter Hills Verdier, 90, an engineer who designed weapons programs, died Aug. 11 at his home in Adamstown. He had Parkinson's disease.

He came to the Washington area in 1942 as a project engineer with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which opened that year in Silver Spring. He had a role in developing the "proximity fuse," which increased the effectiveness of Allied anti-aircraft shells during World War II. He later worked on various missile programs. He also helped select the site and design the building when the laboratory moved to a location near Laurel in the 1950s.

In 1958, Mr. Verdier joined the ordnance division of FMC Corp., a builder of amphibious armored vehicles. He was instrumental in developing several weapons programs, including the M-59 and M-113 armored personnel carriers, the LVTP-7 amphibious assault vehicle and a precursor of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

He later managed the company's national and international defense business from its Washington office. He retired in 1979.

Mr. Verdier was born in Mancelona, Mich., and graduated from high school in Grand Rapids. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1934.

He lived in Bethesda from 1957 to 1972, when he moved to Silver Spring. He moved to Adamstown, in Frederick County, four years ago.

He was a member of the St. Andrew's Society of Washington, a charitable organization for people of Scottish ancestry, and was also a supporting member of Youth for Understanding, an international exchange program. A lifelong sailor who competed in races on the Chesapeake Bay in his sloop, Timi, Mr. Verdier was commodore of the Rhode River Boat Club in Annapolis.

His wife of 28 years, Barbara Verdier, died in 1971.

Survivors include his wife, Brice Dorsey Verdier of Adamstown, whom he married in 1972; four children from his first marriage, Richard Verdier of Queenstown, Charles Verdier of Ellenton, Fla., Virginia Little of Rockville and George Verdier of Potomac; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Maureen Mulligan Hilleary

Administrative Officer

Maureen M. Hilleary, 51, who retired as an administrative officer with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2002, died of a brain tumor Aug. 18 at the Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church.

She worked at HUD for 20 years, providing personnel services to her department.

Mrs. Hilleary was born in Cooperstown, N.Y., and graduated from Plattsburgh State University in New York. She also attended SUNY at Cobleskill for two years.

For the past 15 years, she captured and neutered feral cats and had her own feral cat community at her home in Alexandria. For the past 10 years, she owned and raised horses at her second home in Cooperstown and actively supported causes associated with animals, particularly abused horses and feral cats.

Survivors include her husband of 19 years, Joseph R. Hilleary of Alexandria; a stepson, Douglas Hilleary of Dale City, her father and stepmother, Robert J. and Helen Mulligan of Cooperstown; three brothers, Shawn Mulligan and Robert Mulligan, both of Cooperstown, and Michael Mulligan of Fairfax; a sister Kathleen "Kit" Byrd, of Lampasas, Tex.; and two grandchildren.

William A. Yost

Management Analyst

William A. Yost, 79, a retired management analyst for the Department of Interior, died of cancer Aug. 18 at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Yost worked for 29 years in the Interior's Bureau of Mines. He retired in 1975.

He was born in Dundalk and raised in Washington. He graduated from McKinley High School and became a Navy Seabee during World War II. He was a graduate of George Washington University.

Mr. Yost lived in Rockville until 1978. He lived most recently in Carroll Valley, Pa.

His wife of 37 years, Ruth Carr Yost, died in 1998.

Survivors include his wife of four years, Ann Burnett Yost, of Carroll Valley; three daughters from his first marriage, Linda Y. Blanken of Ashburn, Donna Y. Morris of Fairfield, Pa., and Jeanne A. Yost of Libertytown; a brother; and four grandchildren.