Francis R. 'Joe' O'Clair

Air Force Colonel

Francis R. "Joe" O'Clair, 72, an Air Force colonel who retired in 1980 as director of laboratory plans and programs for the Air Force Systems Command, died of a brain tumor June 12 at home in Clinton.

Col. O'Clair was born in West Springfield, Mass., and graduated from American International College in Springfield.

His Air Force career spanned 30 years and included education-related assignments and research-and-development work on aerospace medicine and life support. He served in California, Ohio, Alabama, New York and the Washington area, where in 1964 he received a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University. He had received a master's degree in education from Miami University of Ohio.

From 1969 to 1972, Col. O'Clair was assigned to the Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base as chief of presentation. In this capacity, he gave command briefings across the United States. In his final military assignment, he presided over a $1 billion research-and-development program.

His military decorations included a Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Commendation Medal.

After his military retirement, Col. O'Clair taught aerospace science at Prince George's County's Gwynn Park High School, where he also created and directed the Junior ROTC program and coached varsity soccer. He retired there in 1993.

He also coached youth sports for the Clinton Boys and Girls Clubs, sang in the choir at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Clinton and was active with PTAs at Surrattsville High School and Junior High School.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Marie A. O'Clair of Clinton; seven daughters; two sons; a brother; a sister; and 15 grandchildren.