Obituaries of residents from the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Vesta Downer, social worker
Vesta Downer, 92, a psychotherapist and social worker for community mental-health centers in Fairfax County, Va., from the 1970s until her retirement in the mid-1990s, died Nov. 22 at her home in Falls Church, Va. She had high blood pressure, said a daughter, Judith Downer.
Mrs. Downer was born Vesta Stevens in East Chester, Nova Scotia, and was a social worker in Baltimore in the 1950s. She ran a small private practice in Washington for many years and was president of the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work, as well as chair of the Northern Virginia unit of the National Association of Social Workers.
Mildred Ostergard, White House stenographer
Mildred Ostergard, 102, who was a stenographer with the White House press office under the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Truman administrations, died Feb. 12 at a hospice center in Arlington, Va. The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, said a son, Michael Ostergard.
Mrs. Ostergard was born Mildred Phipps in Akron, Iowa, and moved to Arlington in the late 1930s. She was a real estate agent in Northern Virginia in the late 1960s and 1970s. Her memberships included the Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club and the women’s auxiliary of what is now Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.
Bruno Ristau, Justice Department official
Bruno Ristau, 87, a longtime Justice Department official who led the Office of Foreign Litigation from 1963 to 1981, died Jan. 30 at his home in Washington. He had Alzheimer’s disease, said his wife, Kathleen Peroff.
Mr. Ristau was born in Warsaw and spent part of World War II in a detention camp. He came to the United States in 1950 as a displaced person and later served in the U.S. Army. After law school, he joined the Justice Department in 1958.
As director of the Office of Foreign Litigation, he handled cases involving transnational lawsuits, international arbitration and diplomatic matters. He was honored by the Italian government for arranging for an Italian court to hold a trial in the United States in 1968.
After leaving the Justice Department in 1981, he was in private practice until 2008. He also taught law at American University and George Washington University.
Pearl Gregory, bicycle shop co-owner
Pearl Gregory, 95, a secondgeneration owner of what was one of the oldest continuously operated bicycle shops in the United States until it closed in 1997, died Feb. 17 at a medical center in Charleston, W.Va. The cause was pneumonia, said a son, Stephen Gregory.
Mrs. Gregory, a resident of Takoma Park, Md., was born Pearl Romm in Washington. In 1961, she and her husband bought Cycle & Sports from her father, who founded the shop in the District in 1912. Her memberships included the Order of the Eastern Star.
George Robb, NSA deputy chief
George Robb, 96, who retired in 1974 as a deputy chief of Pacific operations for the National Security Agency, died Feb. 16 at a retirement community in Silver Spring, Md. The cause was complications from diabetes, said a daughter, Susan Harnstrom.
Mr. Robb, a longtime Silver Spring resident, was born in Frazeysburg, Ohio. He began his career as an intelligence analyst for the Naval Security Group in 1942 and transferred four years later to the Army Security Agency, a precursor to the NSA.
James Powell, business owner
James Powell, 63, who owned businesses in Virginia and North Carolina, including the nowdefunct Pure County Convenience Store in Max Meadows, Va., died Feb. 15 at a hospital in Wytheville, Va. The cause was complications from liver failure, said a sister, Maureen Gallagher.
Mr. Powell, a resident of Hillsville, Va., was born in Washington. From 1972 to 1989, he worked at Jack’s Roofing Co. in Montgomery County, Md., before moving to Cape Hatteras, N.C., and later Hillsville.