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Memorial Mass: 11:00 a.m., Saturday, July 24, 2021

Location: St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church, Yorktown

Bernard “BJ” John Reckman, Jr, 83, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, July 19, 2021, He was born in Detroit, Michigan. A man of many passions, BJ will be remembered as a larger-than-life figure in his work, his community, and his family. With a booming voice, hearty laugh, and ready store of not-always-appropriate jokes, he made his presence known in every room he entered. He was fascinated by technology and embraced every advance from the earliest home computers to cell phones to today’s wearable (and implantable) health monitors, preferably before anyone else. But more than anything else, his love for his family and friends and his drive always to be a positive presence in their lives characterized his personal philosophy.

BJ enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Corpsman after high school; his USN anchor tattoo and service was a source of pride for the rest of his adult life. He attended the University of Detroit and began what would become a long and varied career as an engineer, riding the wave of the Atomic Age from the 1960s through 90’s. BJ’s first professional job working on the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571) (and his experiences with Adm. Rickover, an endless source of stories) gave way to graduate education that included two Master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (“RPI,” as in “square root, cube root, log of pi, DIS-INTEGRATE THEM, RPI!”) and a year challenging the Jesuits at Georgetown Law. Not content with such easy technical problems as designing submarines, BJ began moving himself and his family around the country as a professional engineer tackling nuclear waste clean-ups, working from offices in Albany, NY; Washington, DC; Hartford, CT; back to DC; San Francisco; back to DC; Clearwater, FL; Irvine, CA; back to DC; and Knoxville, TN. He quickly rose through the ranks of the professional nuclear waste management business, becoming one of the youngest-ever Vice Presidents at Nuclear Utilities Services Corp., a subsidiary of Halliburton. He ultimately retired as a Vice President with British Nuclear Fuels Ltd in 1999 after managing major projects including decontamination of the Hanford (WA) Nuclear Reservation and Oak Ridge (TN) National Laboratory. BJ was a lifetime member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society; Mensa; and was a registered Professional Engineer in 24 states.

Ranking only slightly behind his family and profession was his love of sailing the East Coast. Learning on a Sunfish and terrifying a very young daughter when he sailed out of her sight, he moved up to Pacifier, a 22’ daysailer where he instilled in his children a love of the wind, sea, hard work, and family togetherness spending many weekends on the Chesapeake Bay. He conscripted the family as crew onboard Harmony, a racing rigged Tartan 30’, which he valiantly raced on the Chesapeake (with half the crew seasick if there was any real wind) pausing for occasional emergency repairs to its onboard sewage system (which earned him the moniker “Captain Flush,” after he engineered a genius fix adopted by the fleet). After retirement, BJ and Judy moved to Cypress Landing in Chocowinity, NC to overlook the Pamlico River and sail Sea Owl, a 30’ S2 cruiser, which became his daughter-in-law’s favorite mode of travel. Never content to rest for long, BJ became Commodore of the Cypress Landing Yacht Club and he and Judy became experts on the best small restaurants and bathrooms up and down the Intracoastal Waterway. In his spare time, BJ was a volunteer for the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency (FEMA) and assisted in multiple hurricane disaster relief efforts in North Carolina. Having conquered the shallow sea and flooded fields and tiring of the drudgery of coastal home maintenance, BJ and Judy moved to Newport News in 2016 and became fixtures at Warwick Forest, his final home, where he enjoyed meeting many new friends and learning their life stories in addition to participating in road trips, lifelong learning courses, bridge and becoming season ticket holders to the Virginia Symphony.

No hobby was too small or esoteric for BJ’s curious mind. He was an accomplished 12-string guitarist, road biker, classical music afficionado (with a particular love of Gregorian chants) and became SCUBA-certified – including night diving - at age 63. He and Judy travelled the world, visiting Russia, China, South America, most of Europe, and Australia. No new Apple Computer product escaped his notice or credit card and he will be sorely missed by the late-night Apple Tech Support team. A voracious reader, he consumed historical non-fiction, online classics via Kindle from the library, and his daily Wall Street Journal subscription.

Even with all of his life accomplishments, BJ’s greatest pride was in his family and the legacy they represent. Having raised his children to be smart, happy, and successful in their lives and careers and seeing his grandchildren grow to young adulthood to start their own families was an unending source of happiness even in his last days, as many were able to visit with him to help him rally during his short time at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News; however, he was called to manage an emergent disaster recovery project in Heaven and moved one last time, knowing his family would join him soon.

BJ is survived by his best friend and loving bride of 60 years, Judy Reckman; children, Jill Marlowe, Amy Stalbaum, and Eric Reckman; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A Memorial Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, July 24, 2021 at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Tabb, VA. Arrangements by Weymouth Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a tribute donation be made in BJ’s name to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, 150 Boush Street, Suite 201; Norfolk, Virginia 23510. 

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#1 Robert Wilson 2021-07-22 23:16
Thank You for your Dedication to our Country!
You are an inspiration to All! Peace and Love!
Veronica Weymouth

Veronica Weymouth
President, Owner

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