Cover photo for Dr. Joseph F. Caponio's Obituary
Dr. Joseph F. Caponio Profile Photo

Dr. Joseph F. Caponio

Washington D.C. — Dr. Joseph F. Caponio, age 92, died 26, May 2018 in Arlington, VA, after a long battle with kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

Born in Canton, MA, on March 25, 1926, Dr. Caponio was the only surviving son of Francis Caponio and Anna Muci, who emigrated from Italy in 1905. The youngest child of six children, he excelled in school and graduated early from Canton High School. He then attended Amhurst College, but soon decided to follow in the footsteps of his five older brothers-in-law and enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Infantrymen

Dr. Caponio is a veteran of World War II, where he rose to Staff Sergeant and served from 1943 to 1945, earning several decorations, including the Bronze Star, the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge. He served in the 70th Infantry Division and fought through the small French towns of Bitche and Grosbliederdorf as part of the Allied counter-offensive to Operation Nordwind. He was later transferred to the 3rd Infantry Division, where he served as the NCOIC of a U.S. prison camp for German political prisoners in Hammelburg, Germany.

After the war, Dr. Caponio resumed his studies at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, graduating in 1951. He then went on to Georgetown University as a fellow and chemistry instructor from 1951 to 1953, earning his Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry, suma cum laude, in 1959. During this period, he was also a research chemist at Harris Research Laboratories before going on to the Library of Congress as a senior reference analyst and bibliographer in the Science and Technology Division.

From 1959 to 1961, he worked in the reference and bibliography branch of the Office Technology Services for the Department of Commerce and as the Director of Technical Information for the Department of Defense Documentation Center. From 1961 to 1964, he served as Science and Technical Communications Officer for the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. From 1964 to 1970, he was the Associate Director for the Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Library. From 1973 to 1978, he was the Director of Environment for the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Science Information Center. From 1978 to 1979, he served as the Deputy Director of the National Technical Information Service, where he was subsequently appointed Director. He retired from the Senior Executive Service in 1993.

He is the recipient of several notable awards, including the Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Award of Appreciation in 1973, the Department of Commerce Silver Medal in 1981, and the Presidential Meritorious Executive Award in 1985.

He was a member of the Department of State Interagency Committee on the United Nations Environment Information Services, a chairman of the Joint Panel of Experts on Aquatic Science and Fisheries Information for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation, a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the founder and editor of the Washington Update Bulletin of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Communicative Diseases from 1976 to 1980.

The most widely held works by Dr. Caponio include the ASTIA Chemical Thesaurus, Selected Food and Agriculture Databases in the U.S.A., Practical Aspects Concerning the Development and use of ASTIA’s Thesaurus in Information Retrieval, How NTIS serves the community of Scientific and Technical Information Users, The Importance of Timely Use of Scientific and Technical Information, Does Privatization Affect Access to Government Information?, and Strategic Planning Process at the National Technical Information Service.

After retirement from the federal government, Dr. Caponio performed volunteer work for hospice of Alexandra, VA. He then worked for Circle Solutions, a government contractor under NIH, where he disseminated information to the public on digestive diseases until he retired at the age of 85. Almost immediately, he was forced into dialysis, ending more than 50 years of service to the professional, civic, and religious communities.

In addition to his government service, he was the President of the Parent Teachers Association for Fort Hunt High School in Alexandria, VA, from 1973 to 1975. He taught graduate level Information Science courses at American University, the University of Maryland, and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and Good Shepherd Catholic Church Parish in Alexandria, VA, and later of Epiphany Catholic Church in Washington, DC.

Dr. Caponio is survived by a wife, Rose-Marie Harris Caponio, and his son from his first marriage, Francis J. Caponio, Colonel, USA, Retired, and daughters-in-law Ileana L. Caponio and Ramona C. Caponio. He also leaves behind four grandchildren: Joseph P. Caponio; Daniel F. Caponio, Captain, USAF, Zachary T. Caponio, and Amber Caponio. He has five step-grandchildren: Michael Gering Jr., Ginger Rubin, Heather Kelley, Nance Lozeau, and Patrick Gering.

Family and friends will be received at Cunningham Turch Funeral Home, 811 Cameron Street, Alexandria VA 22314 on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 from 6-8pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Good Shephard Catholic Church, 8710 Mount Vernon Highway, Alexandria VA 22314 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 10:30am. He will be interred next to his first wife, Virginia Hall-Caponio, son Edward T. Caponio, and step-daughter Virginia Cochrane-Gering, at Mount Comfort Cemetery in Alexandria, VA.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Dr. Joseph F. Caponio

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

10:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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