Official Obituary of

John Daniel Trasco

February 26, 1942 ~ February 15, 2024 (age 81) 81 Years Old

John Trasco Obituary

John Daniel Trasco, passed away on February 15, 2024, at the age of 81. Born on February 26, 1942, in Queens, New York, he died at his home in Ellicott City, Maryland. John was the son of the late Phyllis E. Trasco and John S. Trasco, and brother of the late David G. Trasco. He is survived by cousins Delores Kielb of Inverness FL, Debra Cundiff of Cherry Hill NJ, Denise Vogt of Valrico FL, Noel Stazko of Fort Myers, FL, Cheryl Hotte of Pine Plains, NY and iMary Lou Sosnowski of Huntington, NY and Bob Wheeler of Newport, VT.

John obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Fordham University, graduating with summa cum laude academic honors, and was initiated into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity. This was followed by a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Columbia University in 1969. His dissertation was entitled “Models of Magnetic Stars”.

John served on the faculty of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia, after which in January 1974 he was hired by Frank Kerr to be Administrator of the Astronomy Program in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

John shepherded the transition of the Astronomy Program into the Department of Astronomy in 1990. His title when he retired in 2009 was Associate Director in the Department of Astronomy.  Effectively, he was the chief administrator for seven Directors of Astronomy and then Chairs of Astronomy. The department grew to over 100 PhD astronomers, including 16 professors, under his leadership.  

John was instrumental in developing collaborations between astronomy at the university and astronomy and planetary science at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He was known for his passion for tea hing. Despite his full time job as an academic administrator, John organized workshops for science teachers at the University and at major science conferences. He also participated in the department’s observatory public open house programs.

John had a talent for navigating the bureaucracy inherent in academia and was a highly respected member of the university community. Outside the academic world he developed a passion for the outdoors, especially skiing and, until his later years, made annual trips to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the slopes there. He was an avid reader and enjoyed trying new recipes. His annual Beef Wellington dinners were greatly anticipated by friends. John will be greatly missed by family and by colleagues and friends with whom he maintained close ties in the decades he lived in Maryland.

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February 25, 2024

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Service. Guests are encouraged to share memories and stories.
February 25, 2024

3:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

A private family burial is planned


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