When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Col. Joseph Ganahl, 67, a retired Army officer, engineer, and lifelong horseman, died of respiratory failure on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at his home in Great Falls, Virginia.
Born in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1932, Col. Ganahl was the son of Constance Hale, of Cleveland, and Maj. Joseph Ganahl, a survivor of the Battle of Bataan who perished in 1945 in a Japanese POW camp. After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1954, Col. Ganahl first served in the Infantry, transferring later to the Field Artillery. He received a masterís degree in mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and taught math at West Point from 1961 to 1964.
Col. Ganahl served in Vietnam in 1970-1971, where he commanded an artillery battalion in Hue and Phu Bai. He was known as a quiet leader who placed a high priority on troop morale, according to his command sergeant major, Robert J. Plick. He earned the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam; his other awards included the Legion of Merit (twice), the Meretorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
In his last job in the Army, from which he retired in 1977, Col. Ganahl was a member of the Battlefield Systems Integration team, where he was in charge of comman and control matters and helped develop several modern defense systems still in use.
Col. Ganahl parlayed his expertise in air-defense systems and intelligence into a 22-year civilian career as a systems engineer and project manager at IBM, Loral, and Lockheed Martin. Until his retirement in March 1999, he was Chief Engineer of Lockheed Martinís Army Global Command and Control System.
A resident of Northern Virginia since 1971, Col. Ganahl was an amateur historian with a particular passion for the Civil War period. His other love was horses, and he served on the Board of Directors of both the Great Falls Pony Club and the Bull Run Hunt.
He was a member of the Dranesville United Methodist Church in Herndon.
His first marriage to Madeleine C. Mayher, ended in divorce in 1965.
Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Dorothy T. Ganahl; his son, Joseph Ganahl, Jr., of Mokuleia, Hawaii; his daughters, Constance Hale Ganahl of Oakland, California; Susan T. Ganahl of Mililani, Hawaii; Katherine T. Ganahl of Reston, Virginia; and two granddaughters.