Nathan Marion Surface, 86, of Left Hand, died at the Golden Living Nursing Home, St. Albans, on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
He was born June 6, 1927, in Belle-Quincy, to Robert C. and Etta Hammonds Surface.
Nathan's life was his career in the U.S. Navy, beginning with World War II in 1945, where he served in the Philippines supporting security and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). He would continue a family tradition, beginning with Adam Tobias Zerfass-Surface, Philadelphia Militia 1775, of serving the government in the field of military/intelligence work. Nathan would also serve during the Korean War and Vietnam conflicts.
Prior to the Navy, at age 16, with advanced mathematical skills, Nathan volunteered for both the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to serve during the Summer of 1943 in Texas and Arizona as a security infiltrator and in engineering support for the Flying Tigers and the innovations of the P-40 engine series.
At age 17, Nathan was recruited to provide math support during the Summer of 1944 for the Manhattan Project. The following year, 1945, as a high school senior, standing at 6 feet 2 inches, he volunteered for the Navy and was eventually placed in the new Data Processing-Machinist Accountant field, joining the first generation of computer operators, programmers and analysts.
With other Navy personnel, he was sent to Europe in early 1946 to study with Alan Turing and returned to continue studies with John Von Neumann and Grace Hopper (the mother of Cobol Computer Programming).
Joining the Masons in 1948, Nathan became part of President Harry S. Truman's Masonic inner circle, including J. Edgar Hoover (FBI) and Allen Dulles (CIA), which opened more doors to secret computer projects.
Nathan married Nora Victoria Belle (Tabor) Underwood on June 10, 1951. He would have three sons, Dr. Robert R., David M. and Samuel Charles (deceased, 1960).
He was stationed at a variety of Naval sites, to include the Washington, D.C., area, 1946-1953; the Ohio Great Lakes Naval Station, 1954-1955; returned to the Washington, D.C., area, 1955-1959; transferred to North Island, San Diego and the Pacific Fleet, 1959-1962; but was always associated with computers and top secret projects, and even working part time for such "think tanks" as the RAND Corporation. He refused higher officer rank to avoid sea duty in order to remain Chief Petty Officer on land in support of Naval Computer Operations and its top secret scientific projects.
Transferred in late 1962 to PAMI CONUS Bainbridge Naval Training Center, Nathan's computer room played a key role in simulation, operations and communications during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Following his active retirement on February 6, 1968, Nathan joined the Civil Service and the Department of the Navy, where he assisted in the pioneering of DARPA-ARPANET, forerunner of the Internet, while also assisting in the innovation of various other computer hardware/software advancements.
In addition to his Navy-mathematical-scientific skills, Nathan was a superb athlete in various sports, to include football, ice hockey, boxing and bowling, and received various offers to turn professional in each sport, but remained in his beloved Navy family until Civil Service retirement on July 17, 1982.
He was also an expert guitarist, playing with such greats as Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Roy Clark and for various Navy and charity functions, turning down repeated offers to turn professional.
Nathan was proud of his Jewish roots and was a volunteer religious teacher for various religious groups, to include both the Church of God Pentecostal and Baptist organizations.
Nathan was proud of being a volunteer co-founder of Special Education and the Special Olympics, supporting the Kennedy-Shriver families.
Retiring to Left Hand in 1982, Nathan also co-founded the Newton Volunteer Fire Department with Doyle Tawney, even becoming a volunteer fireman despite his advanced age.
He would spend nearly 30 years in retirement working the land he loved.
Nathan is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years of marriage, Nora; his sons, Dr. Robert R. Surface and David Surface; grandson, Nathan J.R. Surface; great-grandchildren, Lavinia, Sonya and Akiva Surface; and his beloved daughter-in-law, Lidia Regalado Surface.
Graveside service will be 1:00 p.m. Sunday in the Clover Cemetery.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.taylorfuneralhomeinc.com