Ronald C. Taylor

Physical Meteorologist

Ronald Charles Taylor, 72, who helped direct funding of cutting-edge research in physical meteorology at the National Science Foundation, died Sept. 29 at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham after a heart attack.

Dr. Taylor was the foundation's program director of meteorology from 1976 until his retirement in 1997. During his tenure, he managed the peer review process of grant proposals and made recommendations on funding projects.

He gained a reputation for supporting high-risk studies, sometimes outside the traditional world of academia, that led to developments of instrumentations to observe atmospheric electricity, said Eugene W. Bierly, Dr. Taylor's former supervisor at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Taylor, who lived in College Park, was a native of Port Huron, Mich. He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and received a doctorate in meteorology from the University of Hawaii in 1968.

He served as a meteorologist on a team of scientists working for the U.S. Weather Bureau at the Little America IV station in Antarctica in the 1950s.

He also taught at a number of universities, including the University of Maryland, where he was associate professor in meteorology at the Institute of Fluid Dynamics in the mid-1970s.

He was a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and a 1996 recipient of its award for distinguished service to atmospheric sciences.

His marriage to Margaret T. Taylor ended in divorce.

Survivors include his longtime companion, Ming-Ying Wei of College Park; and a son from his marriage, David K. Taylor of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Agnes Finan


Agnes Finan, 86, a member of the Air Force Officers' Wives Club and a volunteer with the Gray Ladies, died of respiratory failure Sept. 23 at the Manor Care nursing home in Fairfax.

For many years, Mrs. Finan accompanied her husband, Bernard J. Finan, an Air Force officer who later retired as a colonel, on his military assignments in the United States and abroad.

Mrs. Finan, a native of Bridgeport, Conn., hosted a television show focusing on home decor and women's fashion while at Lake Charles Air Force Base in Louisiana. Once, while living in Newfoundland, she entertained Queen Elizabeth, who made a quick stop there before traveling to the United States.

Mrs. Finan worked in Wilmington, Del., as a home fashion coordinator before moving to the Washington area in 1979 and settling in Oakton.

Her husband died in 1979 after 39 years of marriage.

Survivors include four children, Bernie Finan of Reston, John Finan of Columbia, S.C., Pete Finan of Indianapolis and Bill Finan of Front Royal, Va.; six grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Olga E. Backus

School Principal

Olga E. Backus, 88, a retired principal of Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School in Suitland, died of cardiac arrest Oct. 5 at her home in Falls Church.

Miss Backus was the principal at Poe for 21 years, retiring in 1985. She previously taught for a year in Washington and 15 years at Wildercroft Elementary School in Riverdale. She also taught for five years in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

She was born in Buffalo and grew up in Niagara Falls. She graduated from Fredonia College in New York with a teaching degree, later earning a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Maryland. She also received a master's degree in administration from Maryland in the early 1960s.

When she moved to the Washington area in 1949, she and several classmates from a New York City school of custom design founded and operated a design clothing shop, Rojet's, for about a year.

She was devoted to the children in her extended family and loved sewing, quilting, knitting, cross-stitching, crocheting and needlepointing. She made Halloween costumes, special school clothes and wedding dresses for her family.

Survivors include a sister, Anne Backus of Falls Church.

Samuel L. King

Foreign Service Officer

Samuel L. King, 87, a retired Army infantry officer and Foreign Service officer, died of cardiovascular disease Sept. 16 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. He lived in Washington.

After joining the State Department in 1960, Mr. King served for nine years as assistant chief and then deputy chief of the protocol office. He traveled with heads of state, including the king and queen of Thailand and the king and queen of Afghanistan. He also assisted in planning the funeral of John F. Kennedy.

He retired in 1980 after serving in other State Department positions.

Mr. King was born in Los Angeles and attended Occidental College in California before joining the Army. He spent 39 months in the South Pacific during World War II. A veteran of the Korean War, he retired as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years of service. His awards included a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and Master Paratrooper Badge.

He was an honorary member of the U.S. Army Band and belonged to the Nation's Capital Jaguar Owners Club, Pentagon Officers Athletic Club and Coast Guard Auxiliary. He was active in the Palisades Citizens Association.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Betty King of Washington.