Lewis V. Spencer


Lewis V. Spencer, 80, a physicist with the old National Bureau of Standards, died Nov. 11 at a nursing home in Midlothian, Va. He had dementia.

Dr. Spencer was affiliated with the Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) from 1948 to 1984. He specialized in the study of radiation transport and radiation shielding, or how to protect people from nuclear fallout.

His work was used in guidelines for federal buildings. He was well known in his field and was the co-author of the book "Structure Shielding Against Fallout Gamma Rays From Nuclear Detonations" (1980).

From 1957 to 1969, he taught physics and mathematics at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. He retained his affiliation with the Bureau of Standards during that time, returning for a year (1960-61) to serve as acting chief of the Radiation Theory Section. He returned to the bureau permanently in 1969.

He chaired the scientific committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, which studied radiation exposures that would result from large-scale accidents or attacks. He was a scientific observer to NATO and led many panels and conferences on nuclear radiation throughout the country. He retired in 1984 and published his final major scientific paper in 1993.

Lewis Van Clief Spencer was born in Hillsdale, Mich. Because of a childhood accident, his right arm was amputated at the shoulder and his right leg at the knee. He became an exceptional one-handed typist, capable of typing 100 words a minute without error.

He graduated from Franklin College in Franklin, Ind., and received master's and doctoral degrees in physics from Northwestern University in 1946 and 1948, respectively.

He belonged to the Sigma Xi and Pi Mu Epsilon honorary societies and was the first recipient of the Gray Medal, awarded by the International Commission of Radiation Units and Measurements.

He lived in Kensington in the 1950s and in Gaithersburg from 1969 to 1984. He was a member of Wheaton Baptist Church. He lived in Hopkinsville, Ky., from 1984 to 2001, when he moved to Midlothian, near Richmond.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth Williams Spencer of Hopkinsville, Ky.; five children, Dorothy Wagener of Reston, Betty Schiele of Richmond, Carl Spencer of Snohomish, Wash., Mary Ellen Goree of San Antonio and Robert Spencer of West Lafayette, Ind.; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Lynda J. "Joy" Odom

Teacher, Administrator

Lynda J. "Joy" Odom, 61, a retired Montgomery County teacher and administrator, died of cancer Nov. 13 at her home in Silver Spring.

Ms. Odom taught at Cabin John Junior High School, Wootton High School and John F. Kennedy High School from 1968 to 1982. She then worked in the county's computer-related instruction department, became coordinator of mathematics and ultimately worked in student testing. She retired in 1998 and was an educational consultant until shortly before her death.

She was born in Bartow, Fla., and graduated from Erskine College in South Carolina. She earned a master's degree in mathematics from Louisiana State University in the early 1970s. She taught in Florida for several years before moving to Montgomery in 1968.

Ms. Odom operated an antiques business in the Burtonsville area. She also enjoyed spending time in New York City and Ocean City and traveling to Europe and Asia.

Survivors include her partner, Carol Bergen of Silver Spring; three sisters; and a brother.

Ronald R. Voeller

Director of Military Education

Ronald R. Voeller, 67, who directed humanities programs for the children of U.S. military personnel overseas, died of a brain aneurysm Nov. 14 at Washington Hospital Center. He lived in Alexandria.

Mr. Voeller began his career in 1962 as a music teacher at a high school in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He first taught in the Defense Department's school system for the children of U.S. troops at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico from 1964 to 1966.

Mr. Voeller went to Karlsruhe, Germany, as a music teacher in 1966 and became supervisor of music programs in the Defense Department's European schools four years later. While in Germany, he sometimes conducted musical productions, including 22 performances of "Jesus Christ Superstar." For seven years, he led seminars for German and American music students.

In 1980, Mr. Voeller moved to Alexandria and became the supervisor of music, visual arts, humanities and gifted and talented programs for the Defense Department's Dependents Schools (now Department of Defense Education Activity) in Arlington. At its peak during Mr. Voeller's tenure, the school system had 180,000 American students enrolled at U.S.-style schools worldwide.

Mr. Voeller conducted three-week institutes at the Kennedy Center for humanities teachers at the Defense Department schools. He helped develop curricula and often traveled to schools throughout the world.

After retiring in 2000, Mr. Voeller turned to writing. His book, "Full Glass Half Empty: Public School Education -- An Inside Look," is scheduled to be published before the end of this year. A book of short stories will be published next year.

Mr. Voeller was born in Rugby, N.D., and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. He received a master's degree in education from St. Thomas in 1964.

He was a member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Ginger Voeller of Alexandria; two children, Christopher Scott Voeller of Queens, N.Y., and Allison V. MacMahon of Falls Church; his father, Roy Voeller of Phoenix; one sister; five brothers; and one granddaughter.

Kenneth Charles Back

Research Scientist

Kenneth Charles Back, 79, a research scientist who taught at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, died Nov. 6 at his home in Whitby, England. He had chronic anemia and leukemia.

Dr. Back was born in Wharton, N.J., and served in the Navy during World War II. He graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., and attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma. He received a master's degree in pharmacology and toxicology in 1957 and a doctorate the next year at Oklahoma.

He spent 20 years as a research scientist at the Air Force's Aerospace Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He did research on the effects of high-altitude flight on the bloodstream.

In 1980, he moved to Wheaton and was a professor of toxicology at the Uniformed Services University. After he retired in 1988, he moved to England.

His marriage to Edna Back ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 24 years, Dr. Andrea M. Back of Whitby; seven children from his first marriage, Sandra Spicer, Vanessa Back, David Back and Andrew Back, all of Dayton, Ohio, Jo Ann Danchik of Plano, Tex., Brian Back of Laguna Beach, Calif., and Mark Back of Springfield; three children from his second marriage, Joshua Back, Aelred Back and Katherine Back, all of Whitby; a brother; a sister; and 10 grandchildren.

Howard K. Schoenwetter

Electrical Engineer

Howard K. Schoenwetter, 83, an electrical engineer for the National Bureau of Standards for 24 years, died of pneumonia Nov. 7 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville. He also suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Schoenwetter was born in Garner, Iowa. He served in the Army Signal Corps and was stationed in Guam at the end of World War II. He graduated from the University of Iowa and received a master's degree in physics from Georgia Tech in 1950, a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1955 and a doctorate in electrical engineering from George Washington University in 1972.

He held a number of positions in the electronics field before joining the National Bureau of Standards, now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He worked in the electronic systems division, where he designed and developed high-speed circuitry. He published numerous technical papers and received several awards for his work.

Dr. Schoenwetter lived in Bethesda for 37 years before entering the National Lutheran Home in 2002.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Marjorie Schoenwetter of Rockville; three daughters, Barbara Renehan of Rockville, Carol "Kitty" Mitchell of San Antonio and Nancy Mills of Oakton; a brother; a sister; and six grandchildren.

Francis 'Frank' Miscoski

Cartographer, Fisherman

Francis "Frank" Miscoski, 78, a cartographer with the Naval Oceanographic Office in Suitland from 1949 to 1974, died of a heart attack Nov. 11 at his home in Morningside.

Mr. Miscoski was born in Blandburg, Pa., and served in the Navy aboard the USS Pocono during World War II. Afterward, he worked as a cartographer with the Defense Mapping Agency at the Hydrographic Center in Washington from 1947 to 1949.

His government service involved charting oceans, which took him to Greece and the Mediterranean region, Panama, Greenland, Saudi Arabia and the Canadian Arctic.

Mr. Miscoski also held positions with the American Society of Photography, the National Geographic Society and the American Legion.

His passion was fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. He won numerous fishing citations, his last and most recent for catching the largest rockfish this year.

Survivors include a brother and a sister.