Agriculture Department Diplomat
Ernest Koenig, 88, who worked for the Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service throughout Europe from the early 1950s to about 1990, died July 10 at Capital Hospice in Arlington. He had dementia.
Mr. Koenig, an Alexandria resident, was born to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Czechoslovakia. During his early studies, he spent time in Paris and met his future wife. She left on a visa for safety before the Nazi advance.
Mr. Koenig served in the Free Czech Army and became a tutor for a French family before being deported to a labor camp in Auschwitz, Poland. According to his daughter, he survived with support from Czech factory workers who supplied him with food and provided him a place to rest. Decades later, he published a memoir about those years, the title of which translates to "In the Courtyard of Death."
After the war, he was reunited with his wife in England. They settled in the United States, and he became a U.S. citizen. He was an economics graduate of Johns Hopkins University.
His wife of 56 years, Elizabeth Kaufmann Koenig, died in 2003.
Survivors include a daughter, Nicole Sturgeon of Alexandria; a brother; and a granddaughter.
Ethel Allan Starbird
Ethel Allan Starbird, 87, a senior writer and editor for National Geographic magazine, died June 27 of a stroke at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. She lived at the Fairfax, a military retirement home at Fort Belvoir.
Ms. Starbird came to Washington during World War II, when she was an officer with the Women's Army Corps. She was a speechwriter and magazine editor and served in the South Pacific.
After the war, she was an editor and broadcaster for a CBS radio station in Burlington, Vt., for two years. In 1947, she moved to Honolulu, where she worked in advertising and for an ABC radio station. She spent a year as a freelance writer in San Francisco before moving to Japan as chief writer for the Asian network of Armed Forces Radio.
In 1952, she volunteered for the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower and moved to Washington. She worked with the Republican National Committee from 1952 to 1954, coordinating women's activities. She served in the press service of the U.S. Information Agency from 1954 to 1957, when she became a public relations officer for the General Services Administration.
She was a writer and editor with National Geographic from 1961 to 1983, when she retired. She traveled throughout the world for the magazine and wrote articles on a variety of subjects, particularly about New England.
Ms. Starbird was born in Washington and graduated from high school in Burlington. She was a graduate of the University of Vermont and worked as a legal secretary before joining the WACs.
She lived in Washington from 1952 to 1984, when she retired to the Northern Neck of Virginia. She was known for her cantankerous humor and for her parties, which often included impromptu musical performances on an assortment of instruments she kept.
She leaves no immediate survivors.
Vincent Przybyla Jr.
Vincent Przybyla Jr., 60, a civilian Army ocularist who had worked for more than 30 years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center making prosthetic eyes for injured soldiers, died July 12 at the Washington Hospital Center after a heart attack.
Mr. Przybyla, a Lusby resident, was one of the last military ocularists to make prosthetic eyes by hand, according to several news accounts.
The modern prosthetic eye is made from plastic, and Mr. Przybyla, who said he considered himself an artist, shaped, refined and painted the plastic eye to appear natural.
"Have I ever found an eye I can't paint? Almost," he told the Columbus Dispatch in March. "Each one is like a portrait. And yes, eyes really do light up."
Vincent Anthony Przybyla Jr. was born in Rochester, N.Y., and raised in Detroit. He attended a trade school for ocular design and served in the Army during the Vietnam War. He then settled in the Washington area.
He was a recipient of the Army's Superior Civilian Service Award.
Survivors include his wife, Linda Medrich Przybyla, and their three sons, Vincent Przybyla III, David Przybyla and Nicholas Przybyla, all of Lusby.
John V. Hedberg
Foreign Service Officer
John Verner Hedberg, 79, who retired from the Foreign Service in 1978 as a consul of the U.S. Embassy in Panama, died July 13 at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney. He had cancer.
Mr. Hedberg joined the State Department in 1962, and his assignments included consul of administration at the U.S. embassies in Sweden and Iran.
He settled in the Washington area in 1978 and lived at Leisure World in Silver Spring.
He was a Chicago native and a Navy veteran of World War II. He was a graduate of American University.
Early in his career, he did clerical and personnel work for federal agencies.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Elsie Noonan Hedberg of Silver Spring.
Eugene M. Brown
Fairfax County Schools Official
Eugene Michael Brown, 51, a retired Marine Corps major who became an administrator with Fairfax County public schools, died July 5 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He had complications from prostate cancer.
Maj. Brown joined Fairfax schools in 1995 and spent five years teaching at the Barden and Fort Belvoir elementary schools.
At his death, he was a curriculum and materials specialist with the school system's science department. He also was assistant director for the state Science Olympiad and co-coordinator for the county's regional science fair.
Maj. Brown was a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania. He received a master's degree in education from Marymount University in Arlington.
He served in the Marine Corps from 1975 to 1995, and his assignments included Beirut following the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks there. He did special operations and reconnaissance work during his career. His final active-duty assignment was at Quantico, organizing and overseeing dignitaries' visits.
A Fairfax County resident, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a grand knight of the Fort Belvoir council. His other memberships included St. Mary of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax, the National Science Teachers Association and the U.S. Handball Association.
He did volunteer work at the Fort Belvoir thrift shop.
His marriage to Lisa Brown ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 11 years, Susan von Schaack-Brown of Fairfax County; two children from his first marriage, Timothy Brown and Katherine Brown, both of Dumfries; his mother, Angela Brown of Pittsburgh; two brothers; and two sisters.