The Washington Post

Local obituary roundup: Jan. 28, 2014

David E. Farnham
Army colonel

David E. Farnham, a retired Army colonel who worked in military assistance programs in the Middle East with the State Department and served in three wars with two branches of the military, died Jan. 14 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 86.

The cause was renal failure, according to his son David B. Farnham.

Col. Farnham’s military career spanned World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, where he served in a unit that trained officers in counterinsurgency tactics and strategy. He was a principal staff officer serving under John Paul Vann, an Army lieutenant colonel who was a principal subject of Neil Sheehan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about Vietnam, “A Bright Shining Lie.”

David Edward Farnham was born in Augusta, Maine, and began his military career with the Marine Corps in 1945. He served in China after the Japanese surrender ending World War II.

He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1951, then served with the Army during the Korean War at posts in the United States.

Col. Farnham then taught school in Massachusetts while serving in the Army Reserve, and he received a master’s degree in philosophy from Boston University in 1958.

In 1962, he was recalled to active duty with the Army. He served in Vietnam, and was later assigned by the Army to the State Department and the CIA. He retired in 1978. His decorations included three awards of the Legion of Merit.

In retirement, Col. Farnham lived in Reston, Va. He was sought after by authors and historians seeking his recollections of the Vietnam War.

His marriage to Linda McKinley ended in divorce. A son from his first marriage, David R. Farnham, died in 2006.

Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Juliette Bach Farnham of Reston; a son from his first marriage, David B. Farnham of Falmouth, Maine; a stepdaughter, Paula Fulton of Brambleton, Va.; and a granddaughter.

Bart Barnes

Elizabeth Setzer

Elizabeth Setzer, who was a longtime teacher at Germantown Elementary School in Montgomery County, died Dec. 27 at a hospice in Centennial, Colo. She was 96.

The cause was heart disease, her daughter Nancy Setzer Luria said.

Mrs. Setzer came to Washington in 1947 and worked as an assistant to the librarian of the Federal Housing Administration for five years.

In 1957, she began teaching in Germantown. She taught kindergarten for one year, then spent the rest of her career as a fourth-grade teacher. She retired in 1977.

Elizabeth Leone Freeman was born in San Diego and graduated from high school in Oakland, Calif. She was a 1940 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

From 1942 to 1946, she served as an officer with the WAVES, as the women’s branch of the Navy was called during World War II. She held jobs in San Francisco and Hono­lulu before moving to Washington. She received a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland in 1967.

Mrs. Setzer and her husband, a former curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, lived on a farm in Germantown for many years. They moved to Gainesville, Fla., in 1981, and also had a home in Onancock on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Mrs. Setzer lived in Arlington County from 1994 to 2005 before moving to Golden, Colo. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Her husband of 41 years, Henry W. Setzer, died in 1992. Survivors include three daughters, Suzanne Setzer of Sherborn, Mass., Nancy Setzer Luria of Arlington and Lynn Setzer Filoreto of Arvada, Colo.; a sister; and four grandchildren.

Matt Schudel

Joyce Litz
PAC coordinator, writer

Joyce Litz, a former political action committee coordinator for an insurance trade association in Washington who later became a writer, died Jan. 16 at a hospital in Albuquerque. She was 85.

She had a stroke, her son, Craig Litz, said.

Mrs. Litz came to the Washington area in 1962. She began working in 1975 for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a federation of insurance organizations. She was the association’s PAC coordinator until her retirement in 1995.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Mrs. Litz published many articles in a variety of journals. She was the author of “The Montana Frontier: One Woman’s West,” a nonfiction account of her grandmother’s life, published in 2004 by the University of New Mexico Press.

Joyce Diane Hazen was born in Lewistown, Mont., and graduated from high school in Logan, Utah. She received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from George Mason University in 1975.

She lived in Falls Church and Arlington County before moving to Albuquerque in 1995.

Her marriage to Leon E. Litz ended in divorce.

Survivors include three children, Cheryl McNab of Denver, Sandra Litz of Baltimore and Craig Litz of Dallas; a brother; and three grandsons.

Matt Schudel

Robert J. Shockley
Prince George’s school official

Robert J. Shockley, an assistant superintendent of schools in Prince George’s County from 1965 until he retired in 1984, died Jan. 13 at a hospital in Miami. He was 92.

The cause was cancer, said his son, Jay Shockley.

Dr. Shockley was an educator in New York, Baltimore and Western Maryland before coming to Prince George’s County. He published several books and articles on education.

Robert Joseph Shockley was born in Greensboro, Md., and graduated from Frostburg State University in 1942. After serving in the Army during World War II, he received a doctorate in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1950.

A former resident of Friendly, Md., he moved to Florida after retiring.

His first wife, Thelma L. Manahan Shockley, died in 1995 after 51 years of marriage. His second wife, Patria L. Grantham Shockley, died in 2011 after 13 years of marriage.

Survivors include three children from his first marriage, Dorothy Avondstondt of Coral Gables, Fla., Jay Shockley of New York City and James Shockley of Jacksonville, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Susan McCutcheon of Hohenfels, Germany; a brother; and four grandchildren.

Bart Barnes

Helen E. Meleney
Physical education teacher

Helen E. Meleney, who taught physical education in Prince George’s County elementary schools for 25 years until her retirement in 1994, died Dec. 24 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. She was 81.

The cause was septic shock and a urinary infection, said her sister, Jane Meleney Coe.

Ms. Meleney spent most of her career at Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School in Hyattsville. She also officiated at middle and high school field hockey games in the Washington area and elsewhere for five decades. In 1983, she traveled to China with a delegation of American physical education teachers.

Helen Elizabeth Meleney was born in the District and graduated in 1950 from the private Sidwell Friends School, where she taught before joining Prince George’s County Public Schools.

She received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1954 and a master’s degree, also in physical education, from the University of California at Berkeley in 1959.

Ms. Meleney volunteered with the Audubon Naturalist Society. She began a weekly bird survey at the University of Maryland Golf Course and traveled internationally on birding expeditions, said her sister.

She was a resident of Greenbelt, where she was a member of the Woodlands Committee of Greenbelt Homes and Greenbelt Community Church. She belonged to Alcoholics Anonymous and was a former member and bell ringer at Silver Spring Presbyterian Church.

Survivors include her sister, Jane Meleney Coe of Bethesda; and a brother, Peter Meleney of Oak Bluffs, Mass.

Emily Langer

Abraham Dash
Law professor

Abraham Dash, a professor at the University of Maryland law school who specialized in criminal procedures and administrative law, died Jan. 12 at his home in Bowie, Md. He was 86.

The cause was a heart attack, said his stepdaughter, Susan Gaffney.

Mr. Dash was also an Air Force bomber pilot during the Korean War and a lawyer with federal agencies.

Abraham Dash was born in Camden, N.J. He joined the Navy when he was 17 and received a fleet appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He left the Academy to fly for the Air Force.

He left active military service in 1955 and graduated in 1957 from the University of Nebraska. He received a law degree from Georgetown University in 1959.

For 10 years he was a federal lawyer, including stints as director of litigation in the criminal division of the Justice Department and service as deputy chief counsel to the Comptroller of the Currency. He also served in the Air Force Reserve in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1987.

He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland law school in Baltimore in 1970. He retired in 2005 but continued teaching as a professor emeritus. For 10 years he participated in a project on criminal jury instructions.

His first wife, Barbara Crissey Dash, whom he married in 1953, died in 1985.

Survivors include his wife since 1991, Mary Catherine Gaffney Dash of Bowie; a son from his first marriage, Franklin Dash of Bowie; a stepson from his first marriage who took his surname, Gregory Dash of Clinton; two stepdaughters from his second marriage, Judith Robson and Susan Gaffney, both of Alpharetta, Ga.; one sister; one brother; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A stepson from his first marriage, who also took his surname, Michael Dash, died in 1961.

Bart Barnes

Allen J. O’Neill
Bethesda physician

Allen J. O’Neill, who had private practice in internal medicine and cardiology in Bethesda from 1952 to 1987, died Jan. 13 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. He was 93.

The cause was heart disease, said his son, Ray O’Neill.

From 1971 until 1974, Dr. O’Neill was chief of the medical staff at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was a past president of the Montgomery County Medical Society.

Allen Jay O’Neill was born in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1942 with a joint bachelor’s and medical degree under an accelerated World War II program. He was an Army doctor during the war. Afterward, he served several medical residencies before opening his own practice.

As a young man, Dr. O’Neill had been interested in engineering. While practicing medicine, he returned to this interest, drawing engineering blueprints and supervising construction on his homes and offices in Bethesda and Rockville.

In 1991 he moved from Rockville to Earlysville, Va., near Charlottesville.

His wife of 40 years, Mary Alta Reed O’Neill, died in 1982. Survivors include three children, Andrea Hallock of Keswick, Va., Ray O’Neill of Rockville and Gail O’Neill of Bethesda; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Bart Barnes

Gwyneth Dunn

Gwyneth Dunn, a home and hospital teacher for Prince George’s County Public Schools who taught children who were ill at home or in hospitals for extended periods of time, died Jan. 10 at the Riderwood retirement community in Silver Spring. She was 86.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said her daughter, Reinette Schneider.

Gwyneth Mary Davies was a native of Utica, N.Y., and settled in the Washington area after graduating in 1948 from the College of Wooster in Ohio. Starting in the early 1960s, she worked for Prince George’s County schools for more than 30 years.

She was a member of Riverdale Presbyterian Church in University Park, Md., where she was an elder and deacon and sang in the choir. She was a longtime New Carrollton resident but had spent the past nine years at Riderwood.

Her husband, Stanley N. Dunn, whom she married in 1951, died in 2004. Survivors include four children, Catherine Collins of Winston-Salem, N.C., Reinette Schneider of Woodbridge, Va., Stanley N. Dunn Jr. of Green Village, N.J., and Michael Dunn of Adamstown, Md.; a sister; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Adam Bernstein

Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004.
Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.
Adam Bernstein has spent his career putting the "post" in Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person” and to write stories that are “complex yet stylish.”
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