Harry Elmer Fitzwater
Navy Captain, CIA Deputy Director
Harry Elmer Fitzwater, 85, a retired Navy captain and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, died of cancer Nov. 11 at the Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington, N.C.
Mr. Fitzwater, a longtime Fairfax County resident, had been living most recently in Bonita Springs, Fla., and Wilmington.
Mr. Fitzwater was born in Garden City, Mo., and grew up on a farm. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941, serving for two years. He then joined the Navy, serving as an aviator and officer. He flew various types of aircraft during World War II, the Korean War and the Cuban missile crisis. From 1963 until his retirement in 1966, he worked at the Pentagon in the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During his military career, he received bachelor of science degrees in political science and engineering from the University of Colorado in 1954 and a master of science degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1964. He also attended the Naval War College.
After retiring from the Navy, he worked briefly at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, then joined the CIA, serving in management positions within the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Administration. From 1981 through 1986, he served as the deputy director of administration under Director William J. Casey.
From 1984 through 1987, he had a leadership role in the construction of the agency's headquarters building at Langley. He also was instrumental in bringing affordable child-care services to CIA employees by heading the construction of a child-care facility at CIA headquarters.
When he retired from the CIA in 1986, he founded several companies, including Super Tots, a child-care company that was sold to Ogden Allied in 1989. In 1990, he helped found a security and investigative services firm, as well as several companies providing goods and services during the Gulf War to aid in the rebuilding of Kuwait. In late 1990, he founded FitzOil USA Inc., a joint venture company involved in oil exploration and pipeline construction in China.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Betty Fitzwater of Bonita Springs; a daughter, Lynda Harris of Clifton; a sister; two granddaughters; and a great-granddaughter.
Ralph Hastings Wood
Army Officer, Records Manager
Ralph Hastings Wood, 88, a longtime McLean resident who worked in records management for several federal agencies, died of a heart attack Oct. 22 at Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington.
Mr. Wood was born in Wrightsville, Pa., where as a child he worked in his father's small grocery store. One of his duties was to tend the glass display case of penny candy, and family members suspect that particular chore contributed to a lifelong sweet tooth. Excelling in academics, athletics and music, he was offered a partial scholarship to Princeton University but was unable to attend because of the Depression. He joined the Army instead and made a 22-year career of it, from 1935 to 1957.
An infantryman for the first five years, he suffered a serious knee injury shortly before World War II, and taught himself to type during a lengthy post-operative convalescence. With his new skill, he was dispatched to the Army War College records division.
After the war, the Army sent him to Hawaii to help organize the records of Army forces in the Pacific; a few years later, he was sent to Germany to perform the same task for forces in Europe.
He retired from the Army as a captain. He settled with his family in McLean in 1958 and continued his career in records management with the Labor Department, the National Archives and the Pentagon. He retired again in 1973 but continued to do similar work as a consultant in the private sector. He retired a third time in 1986, which gave him time to play golf and build his collection of classical and jazz albums.
Mr. Wood's passion for baseball led to 20 years as a manager in the McLean Little League. His teams won four league titles, including three straight from 1968 to 1970, as well as the first City Series Championship in 1969 and another in 1975. He was honored for his long service at the 30th anniversary banquet of the McLean Little League in 1985.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Agnes Kramer Wood of McLean; six children, Jacqueline Wood of Annandale, Martina Ward-Stevens of Fairfax City, Ralph "Chip" Wood Jr. of McLean, Jeryldene Wood of Urbana, Ill., Jefri Wood of McLean and Hilary Wood of Colorado Springs; and three grandsons.
James Ball Opsata
USIA Official and Shop Owner
James Ball Opsata, 96, who worked for the U.S. Information Agency from 1953 to 1968 doing public affairs and personnel work and who later co-owned an antique shop in Annapolis, died Nov. 14 at the Renaissance Gardens at Riderwood, a nursing home in Silver Spring. He had congestive heart failure.
Mr. Opsata spent much of his USIA career in South America, as deputy public affairs officer in Rio de Janeiro and then public affairs officer in Quito, Ecuador. His final position was in Washington, doing administrative work in the USIA's office of equal employment opportunity.
Mr. Opsata was a lifelong collector, especially of old tools, and after he left the USIA, he and his wife owned and operated Treasure Chest Antiques in Annapolis until 1983. At his death, he was a Crofton resident.
Mr. Opsata was a native of St. Joseph, Mich., and a graduate of what is now Western Michigan University. He received a master's degree in public affairs from American University.
Early in his career, he did personnel work for the Labor Department. He also was acting personnel director of the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency, from 1942 to 1943. He served in the Navy as an intelligence officer in Brazil for the rest of the war.
He later did personnel work for the Civil Service Administration and Office of Price Stabilization.
His wife, Helen Shoup Opsata, whom he married in 1937, died in 1999.
Survivors include his daughter, Margaret Ann Opsata of Dover, Del.
Albert 'Charlie' Kasten
Albert "Charlie" Kasten, 95, a longtime area resident who was in the electrical supply business, died Nov. 10 at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., as the result of a fall. He had lived in the Washington area, first in the District and then in Silver Spring, from 1932 until 1998, when he moved to Sarasota.
Mr. Kasten was born in Minsk, in what was then imperial Russia. He was orphaned at age 13, and he immigrated to the United States with his older sister to escape increasingly virulent anti-Semitism. The youngsters' journey out of the country was arduous. They often traveled at night and hid during the day until they reached Poland, where several Jewish agencies helped send them to the United States.
After reaching Ellis Island, Mr. Kasten lived with a succession of relatives until settling in St. Louis, where he lived until his early twenties. He moved to Washington in 1932 and worked for the Nathan Goodman Co., an electrical supply firm. He was with the company until 1945, when he became a partner at Columbia Electric Supply Co. That partnership lasted until 1959, when he and his son founded Spring Electric Supply Co. and Lighting Ltd., both in Silver Spring.
He broke with a long-standing tradition in the electrical supply business of selling only to tradesmen and began selling directly to the public, long before Home Depot and other home improvement retailers put the concept into practice.
He retired in 1980.
Mr. Kasten was a charter member of both the Prince George's County Electrical Contractors Association and the Washington, D.C., Electrical Contractors Association. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed spending time on Chesapeake Bay.
His wife of 68 years, Rose Kasten, died in 2001.
Survivors include two children, Phillip Kasten and Pauline Copans, both of Sarasota; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
David J. Wakefield
David J. Wakefield, 65, a retired civil engineer with the D.C. Department of Public Works, died of cancer Nov. 12 at Laurel Regional Hospital. He lived in Silver Spring.
Mr. Wakefield was born in Washington and graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville. He graduated with honors from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in engineering.
In 1961, Mr. Wakefield began working for the District's Public Works Department. His career was interrupted from 1963 to 1965, when he served in the Army as an engineer at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas.
He then resumed his work as a civil engineer, designing road improvement and other projects throughout the District. He retired in 2000.
Mr. Wakefield was an avid contract bridge player and competed in many bridge tournaments in the Washington area and elsewhere. He received his American Contract Bridge League Life Master certification in 1995.
His marriages to Carole Wakefield and Ruth Wakefield ended in divorce.
Survivors include a daughter from his first marriage, Lori Ann Jarboe of Frederick; a daughter and son from his second marriage, Marina Wakefield and Bryan Wakefield, both of Geschendorf, Germany; a sister, Karen Filippone of Gaithersburg; two brothers, Walter Wakefield of Glen Burnie and Richard Wakefield of Waldorf; and three grandchildren.
Loudoun Newspaper Publisher
Beth Miller, 62, who had been publisher of the Loudoun Easterner newspaper since 1987, died Nov. 13 at her home in Reston. She had cancer.
She began Creative Publications of Virginia in 1985, initially to operate a typesetting and publishing business in Reston called Creative Types Inc.
In 1987, Creative Publications bought the Loudoun Easterner, a free weekly paper that now has a circulation of more than 60,000. The paper is based in Ashburn.
She was born Mary Elizabeth Hurley in Washington. She spent three years at Coolidge High School in the District before graduating in 1959 from Wheaton High School.
Early in her career, she did vote-tracking work on Capitol Hill for American Cyanamid Co.
After years as a homemaker, she reentered the workforce in the early 1980s doing circulation and distribution work for Connection Newspapers in Reston.
At her death, she was on the board of Loudoun Healthcare Inc.
Her marriage to Clinton Miller ended in divorce.
Survivors include four children, Amy Burns of Sterling, Allyson Ruscitella of Fairfax and Amanda Miller and Clint "Jay" Miller, both of Reston; a brother; and three grandchildren.