- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

Elvira W. Ragan, a former Pentagon secretary and a homemaker, died Feb. 4 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda after a three-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 96.

Mrs. Ragan was born in McKeesport, Pa. She graduated from McKeesport High School and attended the University of Pittsburgh.

She had lived in the Washington area since 1941, when she came seeking work with the federal government.

Mrs. Ragan worked for the Social Security Administration and as a bookkeeper for a Hawaiian radio station with offices in the District.

She was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project as a legal secretary handling the project’s contracts with U.S. colleges and universities.

During World War II, Mrs. Ragan was appointed head secretary to top atomic scientist Vannevar Bush at the Pentagon. Because of her distinguished work there and her top security clearance, she was recruited to work at the Department of Defense as a legal secretary under Secretary James V. Forrestal’s personal assistant.

She met her husband, Robert C. Ragan, while playing bridge, and they were married Nov. 4, 1950, seven weeks after their first date. Mrs. Ragan became a full-time homemaker after her marriage.

She was longtime member of the Chevy Chase United Methodist Church and the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase, and was active in Republican women’s groups.

She was a sophisticated investor who learned the ins and outs of the stock market by taking her lunches in a stock broker’s office while she was employed as a secretary, her husband said.

Before moving to Washington, she was a contestant on the New York City radio program “The Battle of the Sexes” where she won a prize for her game-playing skills.

In addition to her husband of 55 years, survivors include a son, Robert W. Ragan of Burbank, Calif.; and a brother, George Wisser of Ottawa, Ohio.

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