Robert E. Orff

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  • "Uncle Bob was a American original with..."
    - Dave Papritz
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Robert E. Orff, New York City-born and a long-time resident of Crofton, MD, died December 30, 2016. He was 78. Rob was born to Agnes (Moran) Orff, homemaker, and Harry V. Orff, a business systems analyst. He was the youngest of three children raised in a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment in Woodside, Queens. The day he was born, Sunday, October 30, 1938, was the day Orson Welles' Mercury Theater of the Air famously broadcast "The War of the Worlds" on the CBS Radio Network. He graduated from St. Theresa's Parochial School, Brooklyn Technical H.S. and Lowell Technological Institute (now UMass Lowell) with a BS in General Engineering. Rob served in the US Army's Air Defense Engineering Agency at Ft. George G. Meade, MD. As a junior engineer, he participated in Project SNOWTIME, a since declassified air defense exercise which simulated US Army missile defenses against simulated US Air Force attacks. In 1963, he and the former Linda Papritz of Williamsburg, IA, married and settled in W. Hyattsville, MD before moving to Crofton in 1971. After military service, he joined NASA as a sub-systems engineer in the Manned Space Flight Network, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. He began in Project GEMINI, the precursor to the Apollo Moon-landing program. He traveled extensively to several network ground stations and tracking ships, performing systems integration in the conversion of Gemini telemetry systems to the new Apollo requirements. Recruited by the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade during the Cold War period, he was a Project Manager for several COMINT systems designed for field site installation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he returned to NASA as the Facilities Operation Manager for Goddard's Building 3-13-14 Mission Control Center for four years before retiring from Federal service. Later, Mr. Orff joined ManTech International for three years as a Department of Defense contractor in Yorkshire, England. With still current security clearances, he volunteered as an escort at NSA but was recruited by Raytheon as an independent contractor for the USAF Declassification Office. Later, he provided declassification services for the CIA before finally retiring in 2014. Rob was a lifelong investor in the stock market and encouraged his family to do likewise. He became interested in genealogy after reading the March, 1982 obituary of the German composer Carl Orff. There were no records of the Orff family's German roots. After several years, he uncovered their origin and immigration to Brooklyn in 1867. He was proud to be an American, trusted with the nation's secrets. He was fortunate to meet and marry Linda, praising her abilities as a wife and mother, and proud of their daughters' accomplishments. He coined a family motto: Anticipate. He'd like to be remembered as a patriot who served the country both in active duty and in civilian roles. He is survived by Linda, his wife of 53 years; daughter Kristen Orff Maneval (John) of Crownsville and grandchildren Phillip and Vivian; daughter Katherine Orff Horodniceanu (Oded) of Forest Hills, NY and grandchildren Adi and Matias; and sister Dorothy Orff McGuinness of Annapolis. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Henry V.(Harry) Orff. Friends may call at Hardesty Funeral Home, 851 Annapolis Rd., Gambrills, MD 21054 on Monday, January 2, 2017 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. A Requiem Mass will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton RC Church, 1800 Seton Dr., Crofton, MD 21114 on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Interment is private at Maryland Veterans Cemetery, Crownsville. In lieu of flowers, a gift in his memory may be made to any of the following: Crofton Flag Fund, Crofton Beautification Fund, Crofton Garden Club, Salvation Army, Seton Parish. Online condolences can be made at

Funeral Home
Hardesty Funeral Home, P.A.
851 Annapolis Road
Gambrills, MD 21054
(410) 923-2601
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Published in The Capital Gazette on Jan. 2, 2017
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