Milton Thompson Penn
Alexandria Fire Chief, Volunteer
Milton Thompson Penn, 82, a former chief of the Alexandria Fire Department, died of a heart attack Sept. 17 in his boyhood home on Shooters Hill in Alexandria.
Mr. Penn graduated from George Washington High School in Alexandria and served in the Navy in the Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet during World War II.
After the war, he worked for a few years as a house painter and volunteer firefighter before joining the Alexandria Fire Department. He worked his way up to chief in 1972. He retired after 27 years of service in 1976.
Mr. Penn then went to work for the now-defunct First Federal Savings in Alexandria as a courier, and rose to a leadership position before retiring in 1993.
He was a member of the volunteer Friendship Fire Company; the Alexandria Retired Police, Fire and Sheriff Association; the American Legion; the Fraternal Order of Eagles; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Fraternal Order of Elks; and the Scottish Rite. He was also a life member of the Order of DeMolay and a plankowner of the Aircraft Carrier Hornet Foundation.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Ruth Penn of Alexandria; four children, Caroline Frazier of Burke, Mark Penn of Alexandria, Nadene Zuidema of Alexandria and Cheryl Ricciardi of Chantilly; a brother, William Penn of Bel Air, Md.; and seven grandchildren.
Francis Bailey Roche
DOD, GSA Administrator
Francis Bailey Roche, 77, a retired administrator in the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration, died Aug. 15 from complications of cancer at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He lived in Springfield.
Mr. Roche worked at the Pentagon for 23 years, becoming director of real property and natural resources in the office of the assistant secretary of defense. He then worked six years at GSA as assistant commissioner for personal property and federal property, before retiring in 1986 as assistant regional administrator for public buildings and property for the New York Region.
He was born in Newburyport, Mass., and served in the Naval Air Corps during World War II. He graduated from Boston College in 1949 and worked as a civilian for the Air Force for five years in New Hampshire and Colorado. He moved to Northern Virginia in 1962.
He was a charter member of the Senior Executive Service and a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He was a life member of Disabled American Veterans, a Kentucky Colonel and a member of the Society of American Military Engineers.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Barbara Anita Sheltry Roche of Springfield; seven children, Marianne Hobbs of Herndon, Francis Roche and Michael Roche, both of Falls Church, William Roche of Springfield, Peter Roche of Cary, N.C., James Roche of Alexandria and Thomas Roche of Ogden, Utah; a brother; a sister; and 10 grandchildren.
Wilmer E. Hepner
Air National Guard Officer
Wilmer E. Hepner, 83, a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard who later served on the Town Council of New Market, Va., died Sept. 15 of a neurological disease at a hospice in Naples, Fla. He had lived in Marco Island, Fla., since 2001.
Gen. Hepner served in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard from 1953 to 1979, all but six years on full-time duty. He was a corporate pilot for a Pennsylvania bakery from 1965 to 1971.
After retiring in 1979, he moved to New Market, where he lived for 22 years and served one term on the council. He was a member of the Rotary Club and Morning Star Lutheran Church in Mount Jackson, Va.
He was born in Mount Jackson and grew up in Reading, Pa. He served in the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II. After the war, he ran a gas station in Pennsylvania and joined the Air Force Reserve. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Regina Hadalsky Hepner of Marco Island; two children, Michele Hepner Smith of Alexandria and Michael Hepner of Charleston, S.C.; one brother; one sister; and three grandchildren.
Agriculture Department Secretary
Lorraine Hess Blacker, 85, who did secretarial work at the Agriculture Department for 27 years until retiring in the early 1980s, died Sept. 20 at her home in Greenbelt. She had complications from lung cancer surgery in June.
Mrs. Blacker was born in Evanston, Ill., and settled in the Washington area after her marriage in 1941.
Her hobbies included bingo and bowling.
Survivors include her husband, William H. Blacker of Greenbelt; two children, Susan Blacker of Santa Fe, N.M., and Tom Blacker of Burlington, Vt.; and three grandchildren.