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Joseph Braddock dies at 91

First slide

Joseph V. Braddock, a well-known nuclear physicist, businessman and Catholic philanthropist, died Feb. 6 of natural causes at his home in Alexandria. He was 91 years old.

A lifelong Catholic, Braddock actively supported Catholic education and institutions such as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and the Catholic Distance University in West Virginia.

Born Dec. 10, 1929 in Hoboken, N. J., to Ralph and Rose Braddock, Braddock earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., and a master’s degree and doctorate in physics from Fordham University in New York City.

He taught at Fordham and Iona College in New Rochelle, N. Y., before traveling to New Mexico to assist in the U.S. Army’s early missile testing exercises. Later moving to Texas, Braddock was a cofounder of Braddock, Dunn & McDonald, a defense-oriented professional consulting service.

In 1965, he married his wife, Bertha, and the couple had two sons, Tony and Robert.

In the 1970s, Braddock, Dunn & McDonald relocated to Northern Virginia, working on defense projects and undertaking special government assignments.

After his retirement, Braddock remained active with the Defense Science Board, the National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Advisory Committee, the Defense Nuclear Agency Scientific Advisory Group on Effects, the Sandia National Laboratories National Security Advisory Panel and the Army Science Board.

A strong advocate of Catholic education, Braddock supported scholarships at The Catholic University of America in Washington and St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City, N.J.

For his service to the Catholic Church, he was awarded both the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal and the Benemerenti Medal.

At the shrine, he served on the plants and facilities committee and helped oversee the installation of “The Universal Call to Holiness” bas relief as well as the interior dome mosaics.

“With Dr. Braddock's passing, the shrine and the many entities he supported have lost a faithful friend, a brilliant mind and a devoted son of the church,” said Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector. “I spoke with Dr. Braddock the night before he died, seeking his guidance on a forthcoming project. Little did I know that would be our last conversation. I now will count on his guidance and prayers from the other side of life.”

Msgr. Rossi recalled that “Dr. Braddock began his association with the national shrine in the late 1990s, when he and his wife wanted ‘to do something more’ for the shrine.”

“At the suggestion of Cardinal James Hickey, who was the archbishop of Washington and chairman of the national shrine's board of trustees at that time, the Braddocks agreed to support the ‘Universal Call to Holiness,’ which now fills the south wall of the Great Upper Church,” Msgr. Rossi said.

At the time of his death, Braddock had just begun serving his second nine-year term on Catholic Distance University’s board of trustees.

“Dr. Joseph Braddock was instrumental in the leadership of Catholic Distance University,” said Marianne Evans Mount, president of Catholic Distance University (CDU). She said Braddock led the university to relocate its headquarters from Hamilton, Virginia, to Charles Town, West Virginia, in 2015.

“He promoted the use of technology in higher education and recognized CDU’s pioneering mission in distance and online education as a powerful instrument for serving the new evangelization,” Mount said. “He guided and financially supported the development of technology and remained a strong advocate for promoting CDU’s contributions to Catholic higher education, especially the ability to serve the underserved.”

At CDU, Braddock launched the Mission Scholar Program that provides scholarships for mission dioceses, supported CDU’s prison ministry program and nominated outstanding Catholics to serve on the board and succeed him in leadership.

Noting Braddock’s “deep religious faith,” Mount said “his leadership is an indelible mark on the history of Catholic Distance University. CDU honored Dr. and Mrs. Braddock in 2011 with the Founders Award, CDU’s highest honor.”

Outside of the Catholic Church, his many philanthropic and charitable activities included supporting the Alexandria Symphony and the INOVA Hospital Foundation.

A devotee of opera and classical music, Braddock and his wife frequently attended performances by the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington Opera and the Alexandria Symphony.

Braddock was predeceased by his sister, Regina. In addition to his wife and two sons, he is survived by his daughter-in-law Erika, his grandchildren Lucia and Theodore, and his sister Mary.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered Friday, Feb. 19, at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021