Laurence Joseph “Joe” Marhoefer
Obituary 1 Sept. 2021
Laurence Joseph “Joe” Marhoefer, a patent attorney and confimed athlete, died after a brief illness on 29 August 2021. He was eighty-five years old.
Joe was born on 14 October 1935, in Washington DC to Laurence “Laurie” and Mildred Buckey Marhoefer. Joe and his younger sisters Mary Ann and Susan grew up in Hadden Heights, NJ. Joe’s father was an engineer who worked in aviation during the Second World War. When Joe was twelve, his father died, and then his mother raised the three children. Joe survived polio. He graduated from LaSalle College High School in Philadelphia in 1953, and from Villanova University on 1957 with a BS in Electrical Engineering.
Joe began law school at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., while he worked at the U.S. Patent Office and later at the Harry Diamond Laboratories, a research division of the U.S. Army that developed the proximity bomb fuse during WWII. In October 1958, Joe took a leave from Georgetown Law and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served in the Navy for the next three years with the Navy Seabees, and was stationed on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, where Columbus landed. He helped to build naval facilities including a water tower.
In 1960, Joe married Barbara McGeary. The two had met while Barbara was finishing her BA degree at Trinity College in Washington, DC. The couple had four children, born between 1961 and 1978: John, Mary Beth, Melinda and Laurie. Joe and Barbara’s first home together was an apartment in the Lower Mission District of San Francisco. At the time, Joe was stationed at the U.S. Naval Station Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. In September 1961, Joe completed his naval service and returned to Georgetown Law School. He graduated in 1963, ranked second in his class.
Joe’s first job out of law school was with a small patent firm in Manhattan. He then worked for Potter Instrument Company in Plainview, Long Island, which made magnetic tape storage systems for digital data, an innovation in the computer industry over the paper tape and punch cards that had been in use previously. Later, Joe moved to Honeywell, working first in Fort Washington, PA, then later at the company’s Corporate Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. He was promoted to Corporate Patent Counsel and later named a vice president.
After six years in Minneapolis, Joe was named the Corporate Patent Counsel of Unisys, in Blue Bell, PA, a new company formed by a merger of Burroughs and the Sperry Corp. Joe helped clear the new name Unisys. In 1989, Joe and his family moved to Reston, VA, where Joe went into private practice with a small firm. He later joined a firm in Washington, DC, working in intellectual property law until he retired.
In the 1980s, Joe began to run. He became known for his fierce commitment to athletic achievement and for encouraging those around him to exercise. He ran twelve marathons, including seven New York City Marathons. He did the Reston Triathlon many times. Over his career, he completed between forty and fifty triathlons and countless 10Ks and other road races, so many that he could not count. He trained rigorously and was a competitive finisher, often near the top of his age group. In his early seventies, a knee injury and his doctors forced him to stop running. He quickly transferred into other exercises, including walking the three-story underground parking garage under his apartment building in Reston and up and down the building’s stairs.
From boyhood, Joe loved to swim and was an accomplished swimmer. He swam in the Nanticoke River in Tyaskin, Maryland (where he and Barbara had a second home) and in the Atlantic Ocean at Ocean City, NJ, Assateague Island, MD, and Cocoa Beach, FL. He was a die-hard “gym rat”. For 30 years, he and Barbara were fixtures at the Worldgate Athletic Club in Herndon, VA, even during the pandemic, when Joe was in his mid-80s. Joe’s last workout at the gym was only a few weeks before he passed away.
Joe leaves his wife Barbara and his children: John Marhoefer and his partner Maria Regan of Cocoa Beach, FL, Mary Beth Gaiarin and her huband Manu of Old Town Alexandria, Melinda Maher of St. Paul, MN, and Laurie Marhoefer and her partner Stephanie Clare of Seattle, WA. Also surviving Joe are eight grandchildren: Alex Gaiarin, Joe Maher and his wife Cia Maher, Ben Gaiarin, Will Maher, Jack Marhoefer, Grace Marhoefer, Maggie Maher and Hattie Marhoefer Clare. Joe is also survived by his sister Mary Anne Short and her husband Ray. His son-in-law Bob Maher died in 2016.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Thomas a Becket Church, 1421 Whiele Ave., Reston, VA 20190. Because of the new spike in Covid cases, the service will be limited to family and invited guests.