Roberta Lee Smythe

Arts Patron

Roberta Lee Smythe, 67, a patron of the arts, died of a heart attack Nov. 16 at her home in McLean. She previously lived in Middleburg.

She was born in Washington and grew up in Oakton, where her father, Horace Lohnes, was a prominent lawyer who founded the law firm Dow, Lohnes & Albertson. She graduated from the Madeira School in 1955 and George Washington University in 1960. She was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.

She was an accomplished equestrienne in her younger years and a lover of classical music. She frequented the theater, gallery openings and musical performances. She was known for her sense of humor and ready laugh.

Her marriage to William E. Smythe ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children, Gregory Lohnes Smythe of Reston and Ashleigh Brooke Smythe of Davis, Calif.; and a sister, Frances Deskins of Oakton.

Ronald F. Prater

Air Force Colonel, Scientist

Ronald F. Prater, 70, a retired Air Force colonel who helped develop high energy laser technology for missile defense programs, died Nov. 17 at his home in Alexandria after a heart attack.

Col. Prater was an aerospace engineer who served 27 years in the Air Force, mainly in scientific research postings. He retired from active military duty in 1984 after six years at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency in Rosslyn.

He then worked for aerospace engineering consultant W.J. Schafer Associates in Arlington until retiring again in 1992.

Col. Prater was a Chicago native and graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa. After joining the Air Force in 1957, he received a master's degree in physics from the University of California at Los Angeles and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio.

His military honors included the Defense Superior Service Medal.

He was a past secretary and treasurer of the Washington area chapter of the Optical Society of America.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Ellen W. Prater of Alexandria; three children, Richard E. Prater of Tucson, Elizabeth P. Oligmueller of Greeley, Colo., and Ronald C. Prater of Alexandria; and 11 grandchildren.