James Elliott Phenix

Aeronautical Engineer

James Elliott Phenix, 72, an aeronautical engineer who worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for more than 30 years until his retirement in the mid-1990s, died Oct. 17 at Montgomery General Hospital after a heart attack.

At Goddard, Mr. Phenix specialized in structure and design engineering of scientific instruments for manned and unmanned spacecraft. He also taught spacecraft technology at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, both in the late 1980s.

Earlier in his career, he spent 11 years working at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

Mr. Phenix, who lived in Westminster, was a native Washingtonian. He graduated from Wilson High School and the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering.

He served in the Navy aboard the destroyer Bache during the Korean War.

Mr. Phenix, who as a teenager worked as a fisherman's mate in Ocean City, was a sailboat enthusiast. He enjoyed reading books on the subject and built model sailboats.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Janet Phenix of Westminster, and two daughters, Lynda Sue Phenix of Los Angeles and Paula Jean Phenix of Boston.

Evelyn W. Colburn

Census Bureau Official

Evelyn W. Colburn, 88, who served many years as a Census Bureau statistician, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 3 at her home in Rockville.

Mrs. Colburn, who moved to Washington in 1941, began her government career in the early 1940s as a survey analyst at the War Production Board. In the early 1950s, she worked as an analytical statistician at the National Production Authority. She took a position as a supervisory survey statistician at the Census Bureau in 1955, and she worked there until her retirement in 1976.

At the Census Bureau, Mrs. Colburn was responsible for various parts of the census of manufacturers, measuring productivity of manufacturing in the country. She later directed the training branch of the International Statistical Programs Center, providing training in statistical concepts and methodology to government officials from developing countries.

In retirement, she worked with her husband, who was president of Group Health Association, an early health maintenance organization.

Mrs. Colburn was born in New York and graduated from Hunter College there. She lived in the Bannockburn community of Bethesda for many years before retiring to Rockville.

Her husband of 59 years, Mark Colburn, died in 2000.

Survivors include two children, Kenneth Colburn of Bethesda and Barbara Spierer of Madison, Wis.; and four grandchildren.

Patricia Patrick Coontz

Real Estate Agent

Patricia Patrick Coontz, 76, a real estate saleswoman in Northern Virginia for three decades, died of respiratory failure Nov. 4 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. She had pancreatic cancer.

Mrs. Coontz relished her career in real estate, her family said, entering the field in the early 1970s after her children were grown. She was a top seller several years in a row at Macklin-Hansen Realty in Alexandria and became an associate broker there. She especially enjoyed helping young families find and afford starter homes.

She was born in Bogalusa, La., and raised in Columbia, Miss. She attended Tulane University in New Orleans while working for a contractor. She married a naval officer in 1955 and embarked on 12 moves in 13 years. A small compensation for that work, and for raising her children alone while her husband was away on sea duty, came in 1958 when she christened the guided missile frigate USS Coontz, named after her husband's grandfather, Adm. Robert E. Coontz.

When the family settled in Alexandria in 1968, Mrs. Coontz volunteered as corresponding secretary for the Navy's Society of Sponsors and joined the Kate Waller Barrett Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. She also was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria.

Survivors include her husband of 49 years, retired Navy Capt. Robert J. Coontz of Alexandria; two sons, Robert J. Coontz Jr. of Alexandria and Kenneth Lee Coontz II of Toronto; a daughter, Constance Coontz Mazelsky of Andover, Mass.; a sister; a half brother; and three grandchildren.