W. Rod Puffer, a former security chief of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston who retired in 1989 as the space agency’s security director in Washington, died June 20 at his home in Arlington County. He was 79.

He had complications from a stroke suffered in 2011, his son Donovan Puffer said.

Mr. Puffer joined NASA in 1962 as a security specialist at what was then the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. He served as the space center’s security chief from 1971 until 1980, during which time he worked on Project Mercury, Project Gemini and the Apollo, Skylab and space shuttle human-spaceflight programs.

He then transferred to NASA headquarters in Washington and briefly served as the agency’s assistant security director before being promoted to director of security in 1981.

Early in his career, he was a special agent with the Treasury Department in Norfolk.

William Rod Puffer was born in Milan, Mich., and raised in Houghton Lake, Mich. He was a 1959 graduate of Michigan State University and a 1984 graduate of the National Defense University in Washington.

During the Korean War, he served in the Navy as a submarine torpedoman.

His first marriage, to Judith Rickard, ended in divorce. Their son, Michael Puffer, died in 1997. Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Shu-Chen Liang Puffer of Arlington; two sons from his first marriage, Donovan Puffer of Denver and Martin Puffer of Houston; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough