Joseph R. Rothenburg Sr., 76, NASA worker, veteran

February 02, 2004

Joseph Russell Rothenburg Sr., a World War II veteran and quality-control specialist for NASA, died Jan. 26 of lung disease at the Little Sisters of the Poor's St. Martin's Home in Catonsville. The Woodstock resident was 76.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Rothenburg enlisted in the Navy at age 15 and served from 1943 until 1946, including duty in Europe and the Pacific.

Mr. Rothenburg, who was known as "Buzz," studied electronics after the war on the GI Bill and married Adele Zarcufsky. The couple later adopted three children.

From 1951 to 1982, Mr. Rothenburg worked for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. After leaving his job at NASA, he was a quality assurance program manager at Westinghouse Electric Co. for a decade.

Mr. Rothenburg enjoyed ballroom dancing and crab feasts. He also volunteered at Little Sisters of the Poor for about 14 years. The home's elderly residents brought him broken watches, radios, lamps and ceramic objects to repair.

During his last two weeks of life, the Little Sisters took him in and cared for him. Mr. Rothenburg, who was known for his good humor, continued to crack jokes in his final days. "He knew he was going, but he was still happy and joking," said his daughter Rose Matlak of Baltimore.

Interment will be tomorrow at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Rothenburg is survived by another daughter, Janet Hoffman of Woodstock; a son, Joseph Rothenburg Jr. of Titusville, Fla.; and nine grandchildren.

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