John Owen Bracken Sr., 87, naval officer during World War II, Exxon sales specialist

March 19, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

John Owen Bracken Sr., a retired Exxon official and World War II naval officer, died Saturday of stroke complications at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 87 and lived in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County.

A sales and marketing specialist for the Standard Oil Co., later Esso and Exxon Mobil, he was the company's liaison with many area construction projects from the 1940s to the 1960s. He sold oil products needed in the construction of the former Friendship Airport, Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Maryland's portion of Interstate 95, and Washington Dulles International Airport.

He retired in 1975.

Born in Baltimore and raised in the 2700 block of Maryland Ave. and later in Roland Park, he was a graduate of SS. Philip and James Parochial School and, in 1934, Mount St. Joseph High School, where he played football, baseball and basketball. Mr. Bracken earned a degree in 1938 from Loyola College, where he also played baseball and basketball.

"He was a fine athlete, a three-sport man," said his brother, William Jerome Bracken Jr. of Catonsville. "He was so easy to get along with. His personality helped him in Standard Oil and in the Navy."

He enlisted in the service in 1940 and attended officer's candidate school. In 1944, he was stationed aboard the USS Napa, a 7,500-ton transport designed to carry military personnel. He was a commander aboard the Napa from the day it was commissioned Oct. 1, 1944, until it was decommissioned in Baltimore in 1946.

According to a story in The Sun, on Feb. 19, 1945, the Napa debarked Marines and equipment off the coast of Iwo Jima. Two days later, it was rammed on the port side by the Logan, another transport. The Napa was repaired and sailed throughout the Pacific, making stops in the Philippines, China, Southeast Asia and Japan.

Mr. Bracken was present at the ship's decommissioning ceremony in the spring of 1946 at the old Maryland Drydock Co.

He was recalled into naval service during the Korean War, when he was sent to Asia. He remained in the Naval Reserve, until retiring as a captain in 1975.

He was a longtime member of the Navy League, Hillendale Country Club, the Baltimore Country Club, the Mount Washington Club and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He regularly marched in the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St., where he was a member.

He is also survived by his wife of nearly 55 years, the former M. Katherine Murphy; four sons, J. Owen Bracken Jr. and Michael W. Bracken, both of Baltimore, Brian J. Bracken of Salisbury and Kevin F. Bracken of Monkton; three daughters, M. Karen Bracken of Baltimore, Margaret B. Siegel of Highland's Ranch, Colo., and Carol Lucas of Brooklandville; two other brothers, Thomas E. Bracken of Baltimore and Eugene E. Bracken of Virginia Beach, Va.; three sisters, Sister Agnes Eileen Bracken, O.S.F., of Aston, Pa., Eileen B. Caslow of Baltimore and Kathleen B. Bedard of Silver Spring; and 15 grandchildren. A daughter, Barbara M. Bracken, died in 1964.

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