Frank J. Simokaitis, 90, a retired Air Force major general who served as external relations director at NASA from 1978 to 1985, died Jan. 10 at a hospice in Rockledge, Fla., of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A daughter, Mary Dickerson, confirmed the death.

Gen. Simokaitis served in the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II and flew 27 combat missions.

He later served in a series of operations, special investigative, legal, planning, administrative and staff posts, including executive assistant to Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans Jr. in the late 1960s.

Gen. Simokaitis was commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, from 1973 until his military retirement in 1978.

Frank Joseph Simokaitis was born in St. Louis, where he graduated from Washington University and then from St. Louis University law school in 1950.

His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, four awards of the Air Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

A former Arlington resident, he lived most recently in Viera, Fla.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Mary Jane Feeny Simokaitis of Viera; two daughters, Peggy Walley of Hannibal, Mo., and Mary Dickerson of Herndon; two sisters; two brothers; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A son, Francis L. “Frank” Simokaitis, died in 1991.

— Adam Bernstein