William Gerson

Math Professor

William Gerson, 65, a professor of mathematics at Prince George's Community College and a political activist, died Oct. 4 from complications of multiple myeloma at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. He lived in Annapolis.

He taught for 25 years at PGCC, where he was a tenured professor and served two terms as president of the faculty senate. He previously taught at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Queen Anne's County High School in Centreville, Md., and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association Engineering School in Baltimore.

Mr. Gerson came to the Washington area in the early 1960s as a graduate student of physics at the University of Maryland. He was a leader of Students for a Democratic Society and co-wrote "Radical Guide to the University of Maryland."

He was a leader in the Vietnam antiwar effort at Maryland and often wrote for alternative newspapers and the Daily Worker, which was edited by his father.

He was born in New York and grew up in Brooklyn a "red-diaper" baby, as he put it, in a left-wing activist family. His father, a member of the Communist Party, was jailed under the Smith Act, which was designed to identify and prosecute Communist sympathizers.

As a boy, Mr. Gerson spent summers in New Jersey at Camp Wo-Chi-Ca, which stood for Workers Children's Camp, and had ties to the Communist Party. As a young man, Mr. Gerson was director of Higley Hill children's camp in Vermont.

He had a bachelor's degree in engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and a master's degree in physics from Columbia University.

Since 1980, he spent most summers at the World Fellowship Center in Conway, N.H., a politically progressive retreat, where for many years he worked as a staff member and sat on the board of directors.

Mr. Gerson enjoyed chess, jazz and international travel. Before moving to Annapolis 20 years ago, he had lived in College Park.

His marriages to Paula Lieber-Gerson and Carol Higgs ended in divorce.

Survivors include his longtime companion, Wendy Widmann of Severna Park; a daughter from the second marriage, Timi Gerson of Washington; two stepchildren, Shawn Frick of Mount Airy and Bonnie Cannon of Seattle; his parents, Simon and Sophie Gerson of Brooklyn; and a sister.

Escolastica R. Pimentil


Escolastica R. Pimentil, 80, a first-grade teacher who taught at Valley View Elementary School in Oxon Hill for 23 years until she retired in 1991, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 28 at her home in Fort Washington.

Mrs. Pimentil, who lived in the Washington area for about 40 years, was a native of the Philippines and valedictorian of the 1949 graduating class of Far Eastern University in Manila.

She taught in public schools in the Philippines before immigrating to the United States in 1955. She then lived in Norfolk.

Mrs. Pimentil was a 1983 nominee for The Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award. She was active in Filipino cultural organizations and was a volunteer teacher at a Filipino heritage school in Oxon Hill.

She was a member of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oxon Hill; a life member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; and a member of the board of directors of Zambaleneos Inc., a charitable organization.

Survivors include her husband, Basilio B. Pimentil of Fort Washington; three children, May Sarmiento of Fort Washington, Miriam Trader of Towson, Md., and Basil Pimentil of Houston; two brothers; and eight grandchildren.

James McSherry

Frederick Lawyer

James McSherry, 83, a self-styled country lawyer who served as Frederick County attorney in the 1960s, died Oct. 13 of congestive heart failure at his home in Frederick.

Mr. McSherry was born in Frederick and graduated from the Newman School in 1938 and Georgetown University in 1942. Commissioned an ensign in the Navy that year, he took part in eight amphibious invasions, including Sicily, Saipan, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions at Iwo Jima.

He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1949, having been admitted to the Maryland bar and the federal courts a year earlier.

He served as vice president of the Maryland State Bar Association in the 1950s and twice served on that body's board of governors. He was president of the Frederick County Bar Association in 1958.

Mr. McSherry called himself a country lawyer because Frederick was a country town when he started practicing law. Also, he took whatever his clients were able to offer as payment, whether a bushel of corn or a basket of tomatoes.

He also was chairman of the Frederick Advisory Board of the Maryland National Bank in 1969 and served on the board of Woodsboro Bank from 1954 to 2003; he became board chairman in 1995.

He was a trustee of Frederick Memorial Hospital from 1954 to 1983 and served on the Board of Visitors of the Maryland School for the Deaf from the 1960s to the 1990s. At the time of his death, he was serving on the rector's council of Mount St. Mary's Seminary.

Mr. McSherry was active in St. John the Evangelist Parish and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He was awarded the papal medal "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" in 1982 and the Cornerstone Award, with his wife, Marian, in 2003, for the couple's contributions to Friends of Catholic Education.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Marian Shriver McSherry of Frederick; 12 children, James McSherry Jr. of Philadelphia, Carbery McSherry Caron of Lebanon, Conn., M. Natalie McSherry of Baltimore, Caroline McSherry Black of Timonium, Md., W. Clinton McSherry of Bel Air, Md., Michael Shriver McSherry of Newton, Mass., Katherine McSherry Brigham of Hull, Mass., Ann McSherry Chafey of El Cajon, Calif., Madeline McSherry McGaughan of North Potomac, Christine K. McSherry of Baltimore, Emily McSherry Craig of Bethesda and Padraic McSherry Morton of Baltimore; and 29 grandchildren.

Donald Wyvell

Marriott Executive

Donald Wyvell, 80, a retired director of operations for Marriott Corp., died of prostate cancer Oct. 8 at a relative's home in McLean.

Mr. Wyvell, who lived in Columbia, was a native Washingtonian and a graduate of Western High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Denver in 1946 and a master's degree from the University of Illinois in 1949.

He worked for Marriott for 35 years, retiring in 2003.

He was a volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps, assisting with the development of hotels and restaurants in Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and other countries. He was an Eagle Scout and held commercial and aerobatic pilot ratings, and in the late 1980s, set two airspeed records for single-engine private aircraft over a set course, between Oklahoma City and Washington, and between Oshkosh, Wis., and New York City.

His marriage to Simone Wyvell ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 17 years, Virgie Wyvell of Columbia; two children from his first marriage, Chris Wyvell and Veronique Wyvell, both of McLean; three stepchildren, Eddie Kirkpatrick of Lubbock, Tex., and Karen Mills and Sharron Huneke, both of Elmira, N.Y.; and nine grandchildren.

Helen L. Johnston

Health Care Advocate

Helen L. Johnston, 95, a champion of health care accessibility for migrant and seasonal farmworkers who also was an author, naturalist and volunteer tour guide at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, died of a stroke Sept. 29 at Laurel Regional Hospital.

Ms. Johnston lived in Bethesda for nearly a half-century before moving in 2002 to the Hillhaven assisted-living center in Hyattsville.

A career civil servant, Ms. Johnston first worked as a secretary for the U.S. Farm Credit Administration in the mid-1930s. She soon worked her way up, becoming an analyst assigned to work with farmers' cooperatives across the country.

In 1949, she joined the U.S. Public Health Service as a health economist focusing on rural health and agricultural migrant workers. In that capacity, she helped identify and publicize migrants' health care needs.

Her understanding of farming as a way of life ran deeper than her professional experience. She was born on a farm in Nebraska and grew up in rural Council Bluffs, Iowa.

She graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1932, after which she taught for a year, then worked in Nebraska's emergency relief program.

Later, as an authority in the field of rural health care, she helped craft the Migrant Health Act, signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, which led to the development of health clinics serving farmworkers.

She later wrote a book on the history of the migrant health program, "Health for the Nation's Harvesters," which was published by the National Migrant Worker Council Inc. in 1985.

Ms. Johnston retired from government service in 1972 after five years of running the migrant health program for U.S. Community Health Services, a division of what was then the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

In the spring of 1973, Ms. Johnston, a dedicated hiker, began leading nature walks for the U.S. National Park Service. She volunteered for more than 25 years as a nature guide at the Great Falls Tavern, the visitors center for the C&O Canal Park.

She wrote a nature column for the C&O Canal Association newsletter, "Along the Towpath," and photographed birds and flowers she encountered on her hikes.

She donated her nature photography to the Audubon Naturalist Society and Rockwood Manor Park in Potomac.

She leaves no immediate survivors.

Michael H. Schoenfeld

Administrative Law Judge

Michael H. Schoenfeld, 62, an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, died Oct. 11 while kayaking on the Potomac River near Neabsco Creek off the Prince William County shoreline. He was found in four feet of water. The Northern Virginia District medical examiner's office ruled the death a drowning.

Mr. Schoenfeld, who lived in the District, began his career as a government lawyer in 1968 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington. In 1972, he joined the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission as a staff lawyer, analyzing occupational safety laws and reviewing the decisions of administrative law judges in the field.

In 1981, he became an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration in Columbus, Ohio. In 1986, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he served as an administrative law judge with the Labor Department.

He returned to Washington in 1987. Two years later, he transferred from Labor to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, where he remained until his death. In his position as an administrative law judge, he reviewed disputes and claims involving regulations and policies enacted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Mr. Schoenfeld was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Vermont in 1965. He received his law degree from American University in 1968.

He was known for wearing bow ties and for his knowledge of and devotion to his private interests, including cooking, photography, kayaking and art collecting. He and his wife amassed a collection of American crafts and paintings and in recent years had spent each September in Maine.

He was president of his condominium association at the Truman House on Connecticut Avenue in Washington.

His marriage to Betsy Schoenfeld ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 23 years, Kathleen McMillan of Washington; and a brother.

John H. Meyer


John H. Meyer, 58, a former IBM employee who later consulted for the CIA, National Security Agency and State Department, died of multiple myeloma Oct. 14 at Casey House Hospice in Rockville.

Mr. Meyer was born in Minneapolis and moved to Bethesda as a child. He graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1963 and Purdue University in 1967 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

He was commissioned into the Navy in 1968 and served 22 years in active and reserve duty, retiring as a lieutenant commander in 1990.

Mr. Meyer worked for IBM for 25 years, retiring in 1992 as a senior systems engineer. He then became a government consultant.

For the past three years, he was a pool manager at the Montgomery Village Foundation and an early-morning lifeguard at the Montgomery Village YMCA. He was a member of the YMCA Maryland Masters Swim Team.

He loved animals and worked as a foster caregiver for the Montgomery County Humane Society and Partnership for Animal Welfare.

His marriage to Mary Ellen Meyer ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 17 years, Jo Ann Crystal Meyer of Montgomery Village, and two children, Maureen Meyer of Washington and Michael Meyer of Bethesda.

Evelyn Wallington Starbird


Evelyn Wallington Starbird, 86, an Army officer's wife who hosted social events and did volunteer work for the Red Cross, died Oct. 7 at the Fairfax Lifecare Retirement Community at Fort Belvoir. She had emphysema.

Mrs. Starbird, who lived in the Washington area most of her life, was born at a military base in what was then the territory of Hawaii. As a young girl, she received one of the Girl Scouts' highest honors, the Golden Eaglet Award.

She grew up in a number of places -- including Washington -- as her family accompanied her father, Army Brig. Gen. Edward Wallington, on his assignments.

She was valedictorian of her high school in Omaha and at Ogontz Junior College in Philadelphia, where she was also captain of the drill team.

Returning to Washington, she married Alfred Dodd Starbird, a West Point graduate then serving at Fort Belvoir who later became a lieutenant general.

Over the years, Mrs. Starbird performed the assorted duties of a senior officer's wife. She catered and hosted large parties for foreign dignitaries, her husband's office staff and Military Academy classmates.

For several decades, she was a Red Cross volunteer at military hospitals. In recent years, she volunteered one morning a week at the pharmacy information desk at DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir.

Her interests included gardening and flower arranging.

Her husband died in 1983.

Survivors include three children, retired Army Col. Edward A. Starbird of Steilacoom, Wash., Susan Stout of Atlanta and Catharine Ward of McLean; a sister; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Stuart R. Krasner

Retail Clothier

Stuart R. Krasner, 74, a retired retail clothier in the Washington area, died of cancer Oct. 14 at Casey House Hospice in Rockville. He was a longtime Potomac resident.

Mr. Krasner was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and came to Washington in 1941, shortly after his mother opened Krasner's, a women's clothing store on Seventh Street NW. In 1948, he graduated from Wilson High School, where he was active in theater and a sergeant in the corps of cadets.

As a student at American University, he worked at WAMU radio with Ed Walker and Willard Scott (who from the early 1950s until 1972 teamed as "the Joy Boys of Radio"). Mr. Krasner served in the Air National Guard during the Korean War and graduated from AU in 1953.

He worked in radio in the Washington area until 1958, when he became part owner of the family business.

He changed the name of Krasner's to Miss Harper and in 1960 opened his first suburban store, in Congressional Plaza in Rockville. In the 1960s, there were 14 Miss Harper stores on the East Coast. The only one left is called Harper's, in L'Enfant Plaza in Southwest Washington.

He retired in 1990. He worked throughout the 1990s as a volunteer consumer advocate with "Call for Action," a consumer hotline sponsored locally by WTOP-radio.

Mr. Krasner's first marriage, to Sara Kelder, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Eugenia Krasner of Potomac; three children from his first marriage, Franklin Krasner and Eric Krasner of Frederick and Steven Krasner of Poolesville; two stepchildren, Robert Israel of Silver Spring and Diedra Guy of Lexington Park; a brother, Howard Krasner of Rockville; and 10 grandchildren.