Robert J. McNelis

October 15, 1940December 19, 2012
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Robert J. McNelis passed away on December 19, 2012. He was a loving, devoted husband, father and grandfather, a meticulous mathematician, and a loyal friend to all who knew him. Bob was a gracious, humble man who valued love of God, family and country. His years of service to his country at NSA were an example of this dedication and commitment. Bob was a marvelous role model and genuine friend, and always put others ahead of himself. As a devoted husband and father, he showed us the value of unconditional love.

He was born on October 15, 1940, the youngest of three sons of Francis and Mary McNelis, and raised in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Bob married Maria E. Mohen in 1964. They had 3 children: Robert Joseph. Jr., Susan Maria, and James Patrick. He had 9 grandchildren.

He graduated from GAR Memorial High School in 1958, and from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1962 with a BA in Mathematics. He was awarded a National Defense Fellowship to Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA from which he received an MS degree in Mathematics in 1964.

He began employment as a mathematician at the National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, MD in 1964. During his 31 year career at NSA, he evaluated the quality of mathematical algorithms, their implementation, integration and usage in information security systems designed to protect the most sensitive information owned by the US Government, our Allies and NATO member states.

He achieved the rank of Senior Technical Expert, equivalent to a Senior Executive, and held the position of Senior Scientist of the Information Security Standards and Evaluations Group. Bob was proud of his work and the people with whom he worked alongside. He cherished the memories of all he accomplished while working for the government.

He retired in 1996 and was named a Distinguished Member of the NSA Crypto-Mathematics Institute for achievements in the application of crypto-mathematical techniques to information security systems.

Following government retirement he continued work in the information security field as a consultant for Information Security Systems, Inc.

He is co-inventor of five US patents all dealing with algorithmic techniques to protect cellular communications.

He enjoyed model railroading and genealogy. Bob was a member of the Phoenix Society, the Genealogical Society, the Knights of Columbus, and was an active member of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church where he served as a lector.

He will be sincerely missed by all of his family and friends.

Family will receive friends on Wednesday, December 26th and Thursday, December 27th from 2-4 & 7-9PM at WITZKE FUNERAL HOMES, INC.; 5555 Twin Knolls Road; Columbia, MD 21045. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10AM, Friday, December 28th at St. John’s the Evangelist Catholic Church at Wildelake Interfaith Center. Interment in St. Mary’s Cemetery; Hanover Township, PA at 12pm on Saturday, December 29th. For those desiring, memorial donations may be made to Esophageal Cancer Action Network; P.O. Box 243; Stevenson, Maryland 21153 or Little Sisters of the Poor; 601 Maiden Choice Lane; Catonsville, MD 21228.


  • Funeral Service Friday, December 28, 2012
  • Visitation Wednesday, December 26, 2012
  • Visitation Wednesday, December 26, 2012
  • Visitation Thursday, December 27, 2012
  • Visitation Thursday, December 27, 2012

Robert J. McNelis

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JJ McNelis

January 5, 2013

It is hard to put into words the feelings that are going through my heart. You were a wonderful father-in-law and grandfather. I loved our late night card and domino games, and your patience when teaching us how to play Bridge. Anytime I need to be reminded of your laughter I will think of the phrase, "My god, will this bidding ever end!" I will miss cooking for you and trying ways to get you to eat things you vowed never to eat. The boys loved going on the train with “Pops” and going into the city. They also loved riding on Thomas with Nana & Pops. There is a deep hole in our hearts, but I know over time as we think about the wonderful memories we shared, it will begin to fill that hole. We love you and miss you!
JJ, Connor & Parker

Sean Alkire

January 2, 2013

It was truly an honor to know Bob. Either from a story told by Maria or a lucky bracket handed in for March Madness, it was clear that Bob was a special person. We are all better people for having come in contact with Bob McNelis. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McNelis family.

Gay Cornwell

January 2, 2013

Heaven has gained a wonderful soul. Bob was one of the kindest men I had the pleasure of knowing. Bob and Maria had a marriage that only you find in fairytale stories but theirs was real. I know he will be missed tremendously by his family but they have so many wonderful memories that they will hold in their hearts forever.

Quantrell Neighbor

December 29, 2012

My daughter designed and made a coaster (potholder) for Bob that he unfortunately didn't get a chance to see... it was blue, pink, green and white... Here is a copy of her letter to Bob...
Mr. Bob,
I made this coaster for you! Pink represents love. Blue represents freedom. White represents purity. Also, green represents hospitality. I hope you enjoy my loving gift to you! I love you! See you soon and feel better soon (with 18 exclamation points).
Love, Olivia Rose
Our thoughts and prayers are with you! :)

December 28, 2012


Bill Traynham

December 28, 2012

My deepest sympathy to the McNelis family. With "mem'ries of our days in high school". (G.A.R/58)

December 28, 2012

Aunt Maria & Family,
I loved Uncle Bob so much and always felt so close. I have such fond memories of when I was a little boy all the way up to our visits together in NJ and our trips to Washington and Baltimore Zoo when Jon was little. I will miss him so much, especially our venting between emails. His love for model railroading was a gift he gave and I promise to carry it on! Uncle Bob was such a great man and you can see how his legacy will live on thru his wonderful sons and daughter, and all his grandchildren. In am sure that Uncle Bob is in heaven feeling touched as to how many lives he has touched and influenced. Each and every one of our lives has been truly blessed because of Uncle Bob. I will always keep Uncle Bob in my prayers and memories.
Love, Patrick
I am so grateful for all the time over the years to get to know Uncle Bob and share good times together. There was no one (along with his brother) that I thoroughly enjoyed cooking for more than Uncle Bob. The joy of having a meal together was revealed on his face.
Love, Danette

Robert Meushaw

December 28, 2012

Mac was a valued leader and mentor for generations of young technical folks at NSA. His inquisitiveness, insight, and great spirit made working with him a daily pleasure. I particularly remember his hearty laugh when something caught his fancy. I feel truly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Mac during the early part of my career, and was blessed to be one of the youngsters that he took under his wing. My deepest sympathy goes out to the McNelis family.

Tom and Carol Brzezinski

December 27, 2012

Carol and I are very sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

Mary & George Evert

December 27, 2012

Dear Maria and Family,
While no words of ours can ease your loss, please know that we are grieving with you and thinking of you constantly. May the love of family and friends comfort and strengthen you in the days ahead.
God Bless....