34°Overcast

by ARLnow.com — December 10, 2014 at 9:00 am 2,041 0

Sunset on the Potomac at Gravelly Point Park (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Fmr. Pentagon Police Chief Dies — Richard Keevill, the former chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, died Saturday. Keevill served as chief of the Pentagon police agency from 2004 to 2013. Prior to that, he served with the Marines in Vietnam and later was the 1st Sergeant in charge of the Virginia State Police station on Columbia Pike. On Sept. 11, 2001, he ran into the still-burning Pentagon several times to search for survivors. Keevill died of natural causes. His funeral is planned for Saturday. [Facebook]

Redevelopment May Close Carpool — Developer Penzance and real estate investor Lionstone are working to close a deal to acquire and redevelop the Carpool property in Ballston. The long-time Arlington bar was previously slated to be redeveloped eight years ago but those plans fell through in part due to the recession. [Washington Business Journal]

Another Landlord Spat for Ray’s Owner — Ray’s Hell Burger Michael Landrum has gotten into another landlord-tenant dispute, this time with the owner of a building in D.C. that’s set to house his new restaurant, tentatively called Steaks in the City. Landrum was kicked out of his Ray’s Hell Burger locations in Rosslyn in 2013 following a dispute with his then-landlord. [Eater]

Christmas Beer Event in Courthouse — Fire Works Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse will be hosting a tap takeover dubbed the 12 Beers of Christmas tonight. Starting at 5:00 p.m., the restaurant will offer holiday beers from St. Bernardus, Port City, Great Lakes and other brewers. The event is open to the public. [Fire Works Pizza]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber. Disclosure: Fire Works Pizza is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 9, 2014 at 10:00 am 612 0

John McEnearney (photo courtesy McEnearney AssociatesJohn McEnearney, the founder of the D.C.-area real estate broker McEnearney Associates, died yesterday at the age of 87.

McEnearney founded his real estate company in 1980 in Alexandria, and it has since expanded to 12 offices, offering residential and commercial real estate, plus property management services. McEnearney’s Arlington office is 4720 Lee Highway.

The company is ranked as one of the top 75 real estate firms by sales volume in the United States.

McEnearney served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for 27 years, according to a company-produced obituary, and is expected to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this year. Below is the full obituary, written with “input from the McEnearney family.”

John McEnearney, the chairman and founder of McEnearney Associates, passed away on October 8 at the age of 87.

Born Nov. 8, 1926, McEnearney graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1949 and served on active duty as a Naval officer for 27 years. During his time in the Navy, his tours of duty included such diverse and interesting places as Korea, Antarctica, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. During two years’ service in Vietnam, in direct support of the U.S. Marines, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, presented to him personally by four-star General Lewis Walt of the United States Marine Corp.

The day following his retirement as a Navy Captain in 1976, McEnearney joined a residential brokerage firm in Alexandria, Va. His performance during his three years as an agent qualified him as one of the top real estate professionals in Northern Virginia. He went on to acquire his broker’s license and founded McEnearney Associates.

McEnearney opened the first office of McEnearney Associates, Inc. in 1980. Initially, his firm specialized in marketing fine residential properties in Old Town Alexandria. Over the years, McEnearney Associates has expanded to seven residential offices, a commercial office, a Relocation Department and three locations for Property Management. The firm now serves the entire metropolitan Washington, D.C., area and is consistently ranked among the 75 largest real estate firms by sales volume in the United States. The focus remains on marketing fine residential properties throughout the area.

“When my father founded McEnearney Associates more than 34 years ago, his goal was to gain the respect of the public and to provide real estate services that are second to none,” says Maureen McEnearney Dunn, president of McEnearney Associates. “His devotion and loyalty to the company and our associates, clients and customers is a testament to the major contributions and success of the firm throughout the years. John absolutely loved everything about the real estate business and was completely devoted to his agents and staff.”

For more than 30 years, McEnearney Associates, Inc., has set professional standards for service in the Washington area real estate industry. McEnearney was one of the first brokers to recognize real estate agents for the professionals they are, encouraging continuing education and higher standards, providing a professional work environment and developing effective and comprehensive marketing programs that support the Associates’ efforts to provide exceptional service to their clients.

According to family and friends, McEnearney preferred face-to-face or telephone conversations over voice mail or email, though he did develop a reputation for thoroughly researched letters and giving his honest opinions. Described as a smart and generous man, McEnearney earned a highly valued reputation for exceptional service and outstanding performance in the real estate industry and in the community. Always invested in the personal and professional wellbeing of his agents, McEnearney created a family firm in which everyone is a part of the family.

He served on the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS and was recognized as Businessman of the Year by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce in 2006. McEnearney was an active supporter of more than 50 organizations, including The Hopkins House; Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN); Alexandria Senior Services; and Children’s National Medical Center. His personal contributions to so many organizations were in addition to his philosophy of corporate giving from the company.

McEnearney was preceded in death in 2009 by his wife Ginny, and is survived by their six children — Sean, Sharon, Mark, Maureen, Mike and Kathy — as well as 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions can be made to Capital Caring (formerly Capital Hospice) and So Others Might Eat. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, October 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Saint Luke Catholic Church, 7001 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101. Burial at Arlington Cemetery with full military honors will be scheduled for later in the year.

Photo via Live Wire Media Relations

by ARLnow.com — October 1, 2014 at 9:20 am 892 0

Bicyclist and morning fog (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Planners Consider Rosslyn Skyline — The Realize Rosslyn plan is primarily intended to make Rosslyn a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place. However, it will also have an impact on Rosslyn’s skyline. Arlington County planners will be working with the community this fall to come up with recommendations related to the skyline. [Greater Greater Washington]

Fmr. NAACP President Dies — Dr. Talmadge Williams, a former president of the Arlington NAACP, died on Saturday. He was 79. Williams was also a champion for the proposed Arlington Black Heritage Museum, which is still searching for a permanent home. [InsideNova]

County Board Candidates Debate, Again — The two candidates for Arlington County Board again debated the merits of the county’s planned streetcar system. Incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze debated before an audience of 125 at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Monday night. [Washington Post]

It’s October — Today is Oct. 1, the first day of the last quarter of the year. If you’re looking to take advantage of October’s crisp fall weather, there’s a full slate of activities and events in around Arlington on our event calendar.

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by ARLnow.com — September 8, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,588 0

Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood lost its foremost historian last month.

Robert McAtee, the community’s oldest resident, died Aug. 10 at the age of 100. A colorful local figure, “Mac” was a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was known for his love of collectables, Scottish history and of telling tales of “old Arlington.”

Members of Maywood’s neighborhood listserv were informed of McAtee’s passing last week. The email included an obituary, written by Maywood resident Peter Harnik.

The obit is reprinted, with permission, below.

Robert McAtee, the oldest resident of Arlington’s Maywood neighborhood, died on Sunday, August 10. He was just two months shy of 101 and had lived in the same house for 98 years.

Universally known as “Mac,” Mr. McAtee was an institution in the county, attending community meetings and high school reunions in the kilt of his Scottish kinsmen and regaling all listeners with scrupulously accurate stories of old Arlington. An inveterate collector, Mac is reported to have had more than 20,000 license plates and 1,000 books of Scottish history along with cameras, buttons, stamps, coins, fossils, and much more.

He attended Cherrydale Elementary School (since demolished) and enjoyed telling stories of clambering along (and under) the trestle of the old Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. He also attended Washington-Lee High School, where he was a proud member of the Cadet Corps. After graduation in 1932, he began his working life at the Government Printing Office, where he worked until being drafted into the Army of the US in the fall of 1941. Mac was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA where he graduated with Class 13. He served for three years and was honorably discharged as a Captain. To further contribute to the war effort, Mac subsequently volunteered for the US Maritime Service.

At the conclusion of World War II, Mac returned to Maywood. He attended Columbia Tech where he studied electrical engineering. He worked for General Electric for a short time until he began managing a trailer rental lot on Lee Highway. In 1955 he purchased a trailer rental business at Seven Corners which he operated for over 45 years.

Mac had one sister but was never married and leaves no survivors. In recent years he was cared for by his long-time friend Robert Beck, Katherine Skerl, and care-givers Denora, Amy, and Marina.

In addition to good health, he also had a prodigious memory. Almost until the end he could rattle off the names of every family member in virtually every house in Maywood in the 1930s. He delighted showing visitors his collection of 24 letters and postcards – each with a different address – that had arrived at his house. The house didn’t change, but over the years its street name, city name, post office, zip code and other identifiers did.

Mac also reported that his family was the first in the neighborhood to install indoor plumbing. He told of the regular deliveries of milk, eggs, coal and blocks of ice, and he pointed out the location of small shops and the kindergarten within what is now the residential neighborhood.

He was perhaps best known in the neighborhood for annually renewing his automobile’s license plate with his updated age, usually entwining Roman numerals with his initials. Even though he wasn’t able to drive at the end, he kept his car, and at his death his plate spelled simply “RBM 100″.

Mr. McAtee took part in many recorded remembrances and also bequeathed much of his historically significant collection to the Virginia Room of the Arlington Library.

A memorial service will be held in the Fall.

After the jump: McAtee’s memories of Arlington in the first half of the 20th century, reprinted with permission. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — August 28, 2014 at 11:45 am 1,618 0

Melvin “Gene” Windsor, who helped rescue passengers after Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge, passed away in South Carolina on Sunday.

Windsor was a rescue technician aboard the U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter on Jan. 13, 1982, when Flight 90, taking off from National Airport during a snowstorm, lost altitude and crashed into the bridge before plunging into the icy Potomac River.

With roads clogged due to the snowstorm, emergency crews had trouble reaching the crash site, and those that did were ill-equipped to rescue the survivors from the water. Windsor and Eagle 1 pilot Donald Usher arrived less than 20 minutes after the crash and began plucking survivors from the river and bringing them to shore.

In bad weather, with the helicopter skids at one point dipping into the water, Windsor and Usher’s efforts were daring — but ultimately pivotal in saving the lives of the five survivors. The rescues earned the pair a valor award from the Interior Department and the Carnegie Hero Fund medal.

Windsor, a Rockville native, most recently lived at Surfside Beach, S.C. He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Maureen, several sons and daughters, 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.

Windsor was 74.

by ARLnow.com — July 16, 2014 at 9:05 am 2,621 0

Interior of the former Tom Sarris' Orleans House in Rosslyn (photo via Yelp)

Tom Sarris Dies — Tom Sarris, proprietor of former Rosslyn restaurant staples like The Covered Wagon and Tom Sarris’ Orleans House, has died. Sarris died in Arlington on Saturday at the age of 89. [Dignity Memorial]

Sparket Launches Today — Crystal City’s arts and crafts market, dubbed the “Sparket,” launches today on the sidewalk in front of 1900 Crystal Drive. It will open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market is run by the same management company that runs the flea markets at Eastern Market and on U Street. [Crystal City]

Metro > NYC Subway? — When complaining about Metrorail, many critics like to compare it unfavorably to New York City’s Subway system. However, Arlington County’s Mobility Lab points out that there are at least five ways that Metro beats the MTA. [Mobility Lab]

Photo via Yelp

by ARLnow.com — June 2, 2014 at 9:20 am 2,702 0

View of the D.C. monuments and skyline from a flight arriving at DCA

H-B Woodlawn Administrator Dies — H-B Woodlawn assistant principal Dr. Mary McBride died unexpectedly on Monday, May 26. McBride, who started her career at H-B Woodlawn as a teacher, was 70. [Legacy.com]

Torrez Sentenced to Death – Convicted rapist and murderer Jorge Torrez was formally sentenced to death Friday. The former Marine strangled a female sailor to death on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in 2009. He is also accused of killing two young girls in Illinois on Mother’s Day 2005. [Stars and Stripes]

Euille and Levine: No Regrets – At a debate Friday at a meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, congressional candidates Bill Euille and Mark Levine couldn’t come up with an answer when asked what policy positions they’ve taken that they’ve later regretted. Patrick Hope and Adam Ebbin both regret supporting mandatory minimum sentencing, Don Beyer regrets opposing same-sex marriage in the 1990s, and Lavern Chatman said she regrets opposing medical marijuana. [InsideNova]

Testicle Festival Held Saturday — The 10th annual Testicle Festival was held in Virginia Square on Saturday. One attendee said of the Rocky Mountain Oyster tasting: “People who don’t come here and don’t try the balls aren’t living a full life.” [WTOP]

by ARLnow.com — May 1, 2014 at 9:05 am 1,096 0

The Flame (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Arlingtonian Walter Walsh Dies at 106 — Walter Walsh, a world-class Olympic marksman who had a knack for tracking down and shooting gangsters as an FBI agent in the 1930s, has died just a week shy of his 107th birthday. After battling gangsters in the U.S., Walsh entered combat in the Pacific during World War II, at one point killing an enemy sniper from 80 yards away with a single pistol shot. Walsh died at his home in Arlington. [New York Times]

Orange Line Delays This Weekend — This weekend, starting at 10:00 p.m. Friday, Orange Line trains will run every 24 minutes due in part to fence repairs and work on a communications cable between East Falls Church and West Falls Church. [WMATA]

Arlington Participates in National PrepareAthon Day — Personnel from Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management went around to local coffee shops yesterday morning, handing out flyers on National PrepareAthon Day. OEM employees urged Arlington residents to prepare themselves for strong summer storms and to sign up for Arlington Alert emails. [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — March 28, 2014 at 9:25 am 1,401 0

The moon and Venus over Long Bridge Park (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Opinions Split at Tax Hearing — The Arlington County Board’s public tax hearing last night was relatively short, about 30 minutes. Among the fewer than 10 speakers, opinions were split between those who want taxes to remain the same and those who want the tax rate to be lowered. [InsideNoVa]

GMU Pepper Spray Suspect Identified — The man who pepper sprayed a George Mason University law professor at the school’s Arlington campus on Wednesday has been identified as 31-year-old Jonathan Pendleton of Alexandria. The professor has been identified as economist and blogger Tyler Cowen. Pendleton left threatening comments on Cowen’s blog before the attack. [Huffington Post]

Arlington’s Population Grows — New U.S. Census figures indicate that Arlington’s population increased 3,631 last fiscal year. The county’s population, according to the Census Bureau, stands at 224,906 as of July 1, 2013. The Washington region as a whole ranked fifth for population growth among U.S. metropolitan regions. [Washington Post]

James Schlesinger Dies — Former defense and energy secretary James Schlesinger has died at the age of 85. Schlesinger was an Arlington resident. [Bloomberg]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2014 at 5:00 am 3,333 0

Terry Holzheimer (photo courtesy Arlington County)Arlington Economic Development director Terry Holzheimer has died, Arlington County announced Saturday night.

Holzheimer, who turned 66 last month, died of a heart attack. A McLean resident, Holzheimer has served as Arlington’s top economic development official since 2005.

Arlington County issued the following press release about Holzheimer’s untimely passing.

Terry Holzheimer, director of Arlington Economic Development, (AED), has died, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan confirmed today.

“Terry’s family has informed me that Terry died today of a heart attack,” Donnellan said. “I am deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to Terry’s family.

“Arlington has lost a dedicated public servant and a leader who worked for decades to build one of our nation’s most successful and stable communities,” Donnellan said. “Terry was respected across this region as a leader in economic development. His many accomplishments can be seen and felt across our County.”

“This is a double tragedy for Terry’s family,” Donnellan said. “Just six weeks ago, his wife of 34 years, Mary Benedette Pelletter-Holzheimer, died after a long illness.” Terry is survived by his daughter, Francesca, and her husband, Joseph Hammerstrom.

The family has not yet announced funeral arrangements.

From Holzheimer’s official county biography:

Terry Holzheimer was named director of Arlington Economic Development (AED) in March 2005. A veteran of the department since 1996, he previously headed AED’s Business Investment Group, focusing on business retention, recruitment, and economic research. He also was responsible for Arlington’s small business development efforts through AED’s BizLaunch Center.

Before coming to Arlington, Holzheimer served as Loudoun County’s director of economic development from 1989-96. His career also includes heading a management consulting firm, Development Advisory Service, Inc., that provided services to local governments throughout the country in housing and economic development. Earlier, he worked for the National League of Cities, consulting with city and county governments on redevelopment and rehabilitation programs.

Holzheimer has a Ph.D. from George Mason University in public policy, with a specialization in regional development. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Florida. He is a member of American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows and is certified in economic development by the International Economic Development Council. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at Virginia Tech, teaching in Urban Affairs and Planning.

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2014 at 9:35 am 1,703 0

Workers mow the snow, for reasons unknown (photo courtesy Peter Golkin)

Wakefield Advances to Regional Title Game — Wakefield High School’s boys basketball team defeated Broad Run last night 85-80, advancing the Warriors to the regional title game of the 5A North Region Tournament. Senior Re’Quan Hopson scored 29 points during the game. [Sun Gazette]

Police Look for Witnesses to Fatal Crash — Arlington County Police are seeking witnesses to the Feb. 24 crash that killed 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson. Lawson was struck by a dump truck on Little Falls Road after volunteering at Nottingham Elementary School. Detectives believe two vehicles were behind the truck and would like to interview the drivers. [Arlington County]

United Way Donates $260K to Arlington Nonprofits — The United Way has donated nearly $260,000 to 20 Arlington nonprofits. The list of nonprofits receiving grants includes the Arlington Pediatric Center, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Arlington Thrive and others. [Sun Gazette]

John Youngs Dies — John Youngs, a past president of the Arlington Bar Association and former head of the Arlington public defenders office, has died after a long battle with brain cancer. Youngs was 69. “John fought the good fight and he is now at peace,” the bar association said in an email to its members.

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2014 at 8:55 am 1,346 0

Sign of spring (Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk)

Tech Hub Coming to Crystal City — Crystal City office building owner Vornado is investing $10 million in a venture capital fund called the Crystal Tech Fund. Venture capitalist Paul Singh is hoping to raise a total of $50 million for the fund, and is moving his company, Disruption Corp., to Crystal City. Vornado is also bringing a WeWork co-working space to Crystal City by 2016, and converting an existing building into a 300 unit apartment building for “today’s mobile and collaborative workers.” [InTheCapital, Washington Business Journal]

AFAC Sees Record Food Need – The Arlington Food Assistance Center continues to see record need for food in the community. The food bank served just over 1,800 families per week in February, a 30 percent increase compared to last year. [Sun Gazette]

Sony Store to Close — The Sony store in Pentagon City Mall is set to close, according to the company. The Sony store in Tysons Corner is also on the chopping block. [Sony]

Remembrance for Jean Crawford — Jean Crawford, a local Arlington County official and activist, died earlier this month after experiencing complications from gastric bypass surgery. A remembrance ceremony for Crawford will be held Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (4444 Arlington Blvd). [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]

Video: Joan Mulholland — Joan Mulholland, a civil rights activist and former Freedom Rider who lives in Arlington, recently donated documents from her private collection to the Center for Local History at Arlington Public Library. The county’s Arlington TV channel created a video about Mulholland and the donation. [YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk

by Ethan Rothstein — January 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm 691 0

Frank Ceresi (via SABR)Former Arlington Family Court judge Frank Ceresi, who left the bench in 1996 to curate a sports memorabilia museum, died earlier this week. He was 64.

Ceresi was hired by the late Abe Pollin — former owner of the Washington Wizards — to be curator of the MCI National Sports Museum, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

The National Sports Gallery closed in 2001, but afterwards, Ceresi decided to continue his career away from law with collectibles and sports artifacts. He was recently named curator of The National Pastime Museum, an online baseball museum.

Ceresi grew up in Alexandria and moved to Arlington in 1975 after graduating from University of Richmond law school. According to SABR’s obituary, he went into general practice before being appointed a Family Court judge in 1987.

From SABR’s obituary:

Ceresi’s contagious enthusiasm and his passion for historical artifacts led him down a fulfilling new career path.

Over the next two decades, until his death of pancreatic cancer at age 64 on January 14, 2014, Frank Ceresi became a respected expert in sports memorabilia and appraisals, consulting and acquiring artifacts for museums and auction houses, and authoring many articles on baseball history. He also acquired for himself many “national treasures” — as he liked to call them — including a Shoeless Joe Jackson “Black Betsy” bat, Mickey Mantle’s first home run baseball, and a vast collection of scorecards dating back to the 19th century.

When the National Sports Gallery closed in 2001, he and longtime partner Carol McMains established FC Associates, a business specializing in museum consulting, appraisals, and legal services. He also co-authored and contributed to several books, including Baseball Americana: Treasures at the Library of CongressBaseball in Washington, D.C.; The Washington Nationals and Their Grand Tour of 1867; When Baseball Went to War; and Deadball Stars of the National League, where he and McMains wrote the SABR biography of catcher and World War I veteran Hank Gowdy.

Photo via SABR

by Katie Pyzyk — January 8, 2014 at 11:00 am 6,227 0

Robert Morris (photo via Morris-Day Facebook page)Robert Morris, a prominent local architect and winner of a number of Arlington County Preservation Design awards, has died at the age of 53.

According to his obituary in an Alabama newspaper, Morris graduated from Auburn University with a Professional Degree in Architecture in 1984. He had been influenced at a young age by the historic house he lived in with his family, ultimately prompting him to pursue architecture.

Morris moved to the D.C. area after graduation and founded Morris-Day Architects and Builders soon after. He was well known for his distinctive home designs throughout the metro area, especially in Arlington and McLean.

Morris had been a member of Leadership Arlington and was considered a “bright light” at the organization. He is remembered for his sense of humor and for making people laugh, in addition to how he “worked to make the world a better place.” The organization considers his death a huge loss for the community.

“Rob was an incredibly creative individual and Leadership Arlington benefited from his creativity and from his engagement with his class,” said Leadership Arlington President and CEO Betsy Frantz. “He was always thinking about the next possibility and making the community the best it could be. He had a way of making things happen efficiently and effectively. We’re really going to miss him.”

Morris took his own life on December 29. Family members held a memorial service for him in Alabama last week. The local service for Robert Morris will be held at 2:00 p.m. on February 8 at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean (1545 Chain Bridge Road).

Photo via Morris-Day Architects and Builders Facebook page

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.

by Mark Kelly — December 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm 348 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyWhen the Arlington County Board convenes this Saturday, one person will be conspicuous in his absence. By all accounts, Robert Atkins has been at every County Board meeting, save one, since 1995.

By my rough, back of the envelope estimate, Atkins made over 1,000 speeches before the Board. That is far and away more speaking time during County Board meetings over that span than anyone else who was not elected to serve on the Board.

The tradition began, so the story goes, after a disagreement Atkins had over an issue in his neighborhood. Upon getting an unsatisfactory answer from new Board Member Chris Zimmerman, Atkins pledged to be at every County Board meeting in the future — and he was.

While Atkins did not live long enough to see Zimmerman’s farewell speech, he did get to see Zimmerman announce he was stepping down. The pair’s nearly two-decades-long journey of monthly meetups in the County Board hearing room was drawing to a close; though I suspect Bob had no plans to stop attending in Zimmerman’s absence.

If you ever heard Atkins speak during the public comment period or on agenda items, it was almost always the most unique speech of the day. Atkins made Board Members smile, cringe, scowl, and sometimes get up and leave the room altogether.

As the “board watcher-in-chief” for Arlington County for the past two decades, there was virtually no issue for which Bob did not know the history. If you needed background information, Bob knew it because he had read the staff report as well as listened to, and participated in, the debate. And, he would probably be able to recite for you the zinger from the speech he gave that day, usually with a wry smile.

One saying goes, in life, half the battle is showing up. While many Arlingtonians long ago gave up on influencing County Board decisions, Bob did not. He showed up every month to do his part to hold the Board accountable to Arlingtonians.

Atkins did not just show up at County Board meetings. Bob was active in the Arlington Civic Federation. He worked as a volunteer for many years at the county fair to increase voter registration in Arlington. He was a regular attendee or member of various political organizations, like the Arlington GOP, Log Cabin Republicans, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance and even attended Green Party events from time to time.

While Bob did not always agree with the GOP or its candidates on every issue, he was loyal to the party. Bob served as treasurer for the Arlington GOP for 12 years, including both times I served as Chairman. He donated to Republican candidates generously from his own personal funds. He also went out and knocked on doors on behalf of Republican candidates. And, every Election Day, you could find him at his polling place distributing Republican sample ballots.

In all of his civic and political activism, Bob Atkins certainly was one of a kind. He will be missed.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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