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John Toups leaves legacy of humility and community involvement

If there ever were to be a Mount Rushmore of the founders of the government IT services market, John Toups would be there.

But he might not like it because as successful as he was leading Planning Research Corp. and afterward, he never sought the limelight.

Toups died on June 14 at age 92. He was surrounded by his family, according to his obituary on Legacy.com.

He founded his own engineering firm in Orange County, California in 1957 and sold the company to Planning Research Corp. in 1970. In 1980, he moved with PRC to Northern Virginia. PRC was eventually acquired by Litton Industries and then Northrop Grumman.

By the time he had retired in 1987, he was president, chairman and CEO. But retirement didn’t slow him down as he continued for years to be a mentor and advisor to numerous other GovCon executives, not to mention his community service work.

When he became the fourth person inducted into the Greater Washington Government Contractor Hall of Fame in 2006, he did so with characteristic humility and grace.

In our profile of Toups connected to that award, he consistently deflected any talk that he was special or unique. This included his World War II service where he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

Tom Hewitt, founder of FedSources (now part of Deltek) and a long-time friend of Toups, told us to ask about his military history.

Toups’ response was nothing more than: “I went to Europe, and I got shot, and then came home.”

He was equally modest about his extensive community and charitable work he took on after retiring.

He declined to share much about his support of George Mason University. “Don't write about that, there are a lot of people giving their time and money," Toups said.

In fact, his Legacy.com obituary dedicates more space to his life after retirement than his work in building and guiding PRC.

He was dedicated to the Inova Health System in Northern Virginia for 25 years serving as chairman of the Inova Foundation board and the Inova board of directors. He endowed the Toups Healthcare Initiative and the Toups Nursing Scholarship after he was a cancer patient at Inova.

At George Mason, he established the John Toups Medal for Excellence in Teaching at the Volgeneau School of Engineering.

Toups showed his business acumen early on telling us for his 2006 profile about his paper route when he was growing up on Chicago’s South Side.

"I knew which of my regulars would give me a nickel for the paper and tell me to keep the change, so I made sure they got their paper first," Toups said.

Ken Johnson, a former CACI International executive, went to work at PRC shortly after leaving the Army in 1974. PRC went through a rough patch a few years later and through three chairman/CEOs in 14 months.

Toups was the last of those and once he was in charge "everything settled down," Johnson said.

"I was probably 17 rungs below him on the corporate ladder but whenever you talked to him, you had a sense he cared about what you had to say," Johnson told me. "He looked you right in the eye. There was no BS. He was just a jewel and a wonderful man."

And well into retirement, he remained involved in the GovCon community with service on boards of directors at firms such as CACI International, GTSI, Digicon, and the Dewberry Corp.

"If I had a complex problem involving business and government, and I couldn't solve it, John is still one of the first people I'd call for help," Hewitt said in 2006.

Toups was born Jan. 10, 1926, in Wichita Falls, Texas, and was the son of Sidney Phillip and Alice Bryant Toups.

Survivors include his wife Nina Swan Toups of McLean, Virginia; four children Paul Toups of Monroe, Oregon, Dana Toups of Mesa, Arizona, Ellen Toups St. Peter of Irvine, California, and Charles Toups of Palos Verdes, California. He also had six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He also is survived by two sisters, Liz Crowe of Sammanish, Washington, and Carol Cebellos of Claremont, California.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 28 at 11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean, Virginia.

The family asks to please consider a memorial contributions to the Life with Cancer program at Inova, George Mason University, Capital Caring or a charity of your choice.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 18, 2018 at 1:33 PM

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