Dr. Joseph Vincent Braddock passed away of natural causes in his home in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, February 6, 2021. A distinguished nuclear physicist, business executive and philanthropist recognized for his contributions in national security, healthcare, education and information technology, his family and friends knew him as a quiet and considerate man. A devout Catholic, he let his actions testify to his faith and lived by a set of principles consistently evident in his open and gentle behavior with every person in his life.
Born in 1929 to Ralph and Rose Braddock, he grew up during The Depression in a working class neighborhood in New Jersey and was motivated by a desire to understand how the world works and use that education to make a constructive difference in it. He received his BS in Physics from St. Peter’s College in New Jersey, and earned his MS and PhD in Physics at Fordham University in New York. He served as an instructor in Physics at Fordham University and as an Assistant Professor in Physics at Iona College, New York.
Wanting to apply his education to the real world, he partnered with two of his Fordham colleagues, Dr. Bernard J. Dunn and Dr. Daniel F. McDonald, to aid the US Army in early missile testing exercises at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. As that became a compelling and consuming mission, they moved to El Paso, Texas to have immediate access to the Army’s testing facilities and started Braddock, Dunn & McDonald, which would become one of the leaders in the defense oriented professional consulting services. There he met his life-long partner, Bertha, and they were married in 1965.
At the beginning of the 1970s, realizing that many of the military’s’ technology development challenges preceded and transcended the testing stage, Messrs. Braddock, Dunn and McDonald moved the headquarters to Northern Virginia at the beginning of the Tysons Corner boom. With a reputation for resolving significant technical challenges, BDM made its mark in an unusually broad range of military and commercial activities including nuclear weapons safety, armored warfare, threat identification and management, automotive passenger protection, and airspace management. In addition, BDM undertook special projects at the request of the US Department of Defense, the US Department of State and the President of the United States.
Dr. Braddock’s team oriented approach to tackling large and small projects was collaborative and inclusive, and his leadership style was instrumental in the remarkable success of BDM International. Over three decades, they grew exponentially from two hundred employees to over four thousand, from an annual research budget of $4 million in 1971 to $1.3 billion in the mid-1990s. As Joe was fond of saying, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Upon retirement, Dr. Braddock continued donating his time and creative genius to special effect 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; and the Sandia National Laboratories National Security Advisory Panel. But it is on the Army Science Board where he leaves a lasting legacy of service and contribution. Although he did not serve in the military, he felt a deep commitment to our service men and women being sent into harm’s way, saying, “For what we ask of them, they deserve the best we can deliver.”
Joe Braddock also directed his energy and intellect towards the advancement of the Catholic Church. He served as Chairman of the Board of Catholic Distance University and oversaw its transformation into and accreditation in online education and its physical relocation to West Virginia. He also served on the Plants and Facilities Committee of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where he helped to oversee the installation of the interior dome mosaics, including the Trinity Dome, and the bas relief of The Universal Call to Holiness.
As a witness to the transformative power of a sound education and faithfully committed to the importance of the Catholic Church in America, Dr. Braddock supported numerous scholarships at The Catholic University of America, George Mason University, St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, Mt. Vernon High School and St. Peter’s Preparatory School. He also donated his service to the following governance Boards: The Alexandria Symphony, Catholic Distance University, INOVA Hospital Foundation, the Loch Harbour Group, National Security Industrial Association, The Potomac Foundation and St. Peter’s Preparatory School.
In recognition of his service, Dr. Braddock was awarded with the US Department of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award; the US Defense Nuclear Agency Exceptional Public Service Medal; the Eugene G. Fubini Award for Civilian Advisory Contributions to the US Secretary of Defense; and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and the Benemerenti Medals from the Holy See. His legacy continues as he was the inaugural recipient of the US Army’s Joseph V. Braddock award for members of and consultants to the Army Science Board.
In his free time, he was a devoted opera lover and supporter of the arts. He and Bertha would often be seen attending performances of the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington Opera and the Alexandria Symphony.
He was preceded in passing by his sister Regina and is survived by his wife Bertha, their sons Tony and Robert (and his wife, Erika), grandchildren Lucia and Theodore, and his sister Mary.
“A gentle man. A blessed soul. And a great patriot. We will all miss him.”
The mass of Christian burial will be held on Friday February 19th at 11am Eastern Time. The services will be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and will be live streamed. The link to the stream may be found at the Shrine’s website: www.nationalshrine.org. Seating for the mass is limited to 250.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (https://www.nationalshrine.org/donate/) or Catholic Distance University (https://cdu.edu/donate/).
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