Joseph H. Mettle Jr.

Joseph H. Mettle Jr. (August 10, 2011)

Joseph Hooper Mettle Jr., a retired communications system engineer who had worked for the National Security Agency for more than three decades, died July 30 of liver cancer at his Eldersburg home.

He was 77.

The son of a government worker and a homemaker, Mr. Mettle was born in Baltimore and raised on Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore.

He attended Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington, and after graduating from Forest Park High School in 1952, enlisted in the Marine Corps.

He served for four years as a cryptographic and telegraphic repairman, attaining the rank of sergeant.

He began his career in 1957 working for the NSA at Fort Meade as a communications systems engineer.

Mr. Mettle represented the agency in Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean, and was also the agency's representative to the executive office of Ronald Reagan, where he worked on the president's personal telecommunications system.

After retiring in 1989, he worked for Computer Sciences Corp. for three years as a communications system engineer.

Active in Republican politics, Mr. Mettle was a member of the Republican Central Committee and ran unsuccessfully in 1990 for the House of Delegates.

An outdoorsman, Mr. Mettle also had been a fan of the Baltimore Colts and Orioles and enjoyed traveling.

He was a member of the Phoenix Society, the Westminster Elks, the Carroll County Amateur Radio Club and the American Radio Relay League.

Mr. Mettle was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a communicant of St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Pikesville, where a Mass of Christian burial was held Aug. 2.

Surviving are his wife of 57 years, the former Rose Marie Arena; two sons, Joseph H. Mettle III of Woodbine and Vincent D. Mettle of Westminster; two daughters, Kathryn D. Bauer of Westminster and Angela F. Rusch of Phoenix, Ariz.; a sister, Marlene McNair of Reisterstown; and 10 grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com