William E. Frain, who since 1991 had been assistant chief of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, died Tuesday at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia of complications of a brain tumor.
Mr. Frain, who was 57 and lived for many years in Ellicott City, joined the laboratory in 1957. He worked on testing of the Terrier Missile and on spacecraft built at the laboratory.
From 1978 to 1979, he worked in Los Angeles as technical representative to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Organization, monitoring satellite launches, and he helped develop a satellite system to evaluate submarine missile launches.
In 1980, he became supervisor of the Space Department's Space Systems Branch, overseeing work on a satellite to measure, within 2 inches, the surfaces of the oceans; and on an instrument for a European Space Agency spacecraft that was launched in 1990 to study the polar regions of the sun.
He also headed the committee that planned the celebration of the laboratory's 50th anniversary last year.
Born in Fall River, Mass., Mr. Frain attended Southeastern Massachusetts University, graduating in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He earned a master's degree in numerical science from Johns Hopkins. He was president of St. John's Lutheran Church in the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Road, where a memorial service is to be conducted at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Mr. Frain is survived by his wife, the former Sally A. Pereira; two sons, David M. Frain of Rock Hill, S.C., and Christopher K. Frain of Ellicott City; two daughters, Pamela M. Zegers of Newbury Park, Calif., and Lauren M. Ballentine of Sykesville; his mother, Lorraine L. Frain of Swansea, Mass.; two brothers, Michael H. Frain of Greensboro, N.C., and Francis C. Frain of Westport, Mass.; four sisters, Charlene F. Simcock of Fall River, Mass., Loretta E. Michel of Marstons Mills, Mass., M. Bernadette Gregory of Swansea and Rosemary Lowther of Barrington, R.I.; and six grandchildren.
The family suggested memorial contributions to the Seminary Fund of St. John's Lutheran Church.