Joseph Carl Thornwall, 86, passed away May 14, 2012, in Boonsboro, Md., at Fahrney-Keedy Home & Village after a short illness.
Mr. Thornwall was born Feb. 1, 1926, in Topeka, Kan., son of Joseph W. Thornwall and Katie Eva (Lesser) Thornwall.
He grew up in Topeka and graduated from Seaman High School in 1944.
Joseph joined the Navy two weeks before his 18th birthday on Jan. 25, 1944. He went through basic training and radio school at Farragut Naval Training station in Idaho and became a first-class radioman. He was stationed in Tillamook, Ore., and on the tugboat USS Bagaduce in San Francisco, Calif.
After the war, Joseph attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., from 1946 until he graduated in August 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
He married Betty Ann Strimple on Aug. 18, 1950, in Topeka.
He worked for the CIA from 1950 to 1961, and from 1968 to 1981, and NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center from 1961 to 1968. He then worked for Quest Research Corp. from 1981 to 1995. For his job he traveled in Europe, Iran and Asia. He also lived in Cyprus for two years and Germany for more than two years. Joseph retired in 1995. He lived in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 58 years.
Over his lifetime he also enjoyed woodworking, computers, ham radio, flying, gardening, sailboating, camping, playing the recorder and trombone, baking bread and horseback riding.
He is survived by three sons, Randy, Daryl and Greg; and four grandchildren, Megan, Jenna, Elizabeth and Carl.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years; and his brother, Donald Lee Thornwall.
Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at Penwell-Gabel Cemetery & Mausoleum in Topeka. Mr. Thornwall will lie in repose at Penwell-Gabel Mid Town Chapel after 2 p.m. Tuesday and visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.
To leave a special message for the family online, go to www.penwellgabeltopeka.com.