Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton
Michael Arnold helped design Navy vessels, said his mother, Patricia Arnold.
It was a passion he had held since childhood. Patricia Arnold said her son grew up in Rochester, Mich., one of three children. Now 80, she recalled buying her son model ship after model ship for his birthdays when he was a boy. She said he was determined to join the Navy after high school and chose to attend the University of Oklahoma because of its ROTC program.
After college, he joined the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii before he retired from the service and moved to Northern Virginia, where he lived for about 30 years and worked at the Navy Yard.
"Every birthday, every Christmas, every chance we got, we were always buying these models, and that's what he did in his job," she said. "He was on a team designing these ships. ... That was his passion. He loved to do those."
Arnold is also survived by his wife, Jolanda, and two sons, Christopher and Eric.
"I want people to know what a good man he was and how stupid and senseless this all is," Patricia Arnold said. "He was a good man, a wonderful husband, a wonderful, wonderful father to his two boys and a wonderful son to me."
She described him as a father who spent countless hours reading to his sons, taking them to bowling leagues and T-ball games and playing catch with them in the back yard.
She said she saw him twice this year, once for her 80th birthday party in June, and again in August, at the family's cabin in Alpena, Mich.
He turned 59 last Thursday and had been spending much of his free time with his sons building a two-seat plane in his basement that he planned to fly from Virginia to the family cabin next year.
"His goal was to fly before he was 60," she said. "He was just everything that a mother would want in a son, and I guess that pretty much says it all."
-- Justin George, The Baltimore Sun