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“Mr. Arlington” Preston Caruthers has died

Preston Caruthers (photo via Shenandoah University)

Long-time local developer, civic leader and philanthropist Preston Caruthers has died.

Caruthers passed away on New Year’s Day at the age of 95.

Dubbed “Mr. Arlington” for “his tireless work to enhance the quality of life of his fellow residents,” Caruthers served in the Navy during World War II and then spent his life building, volunteering and donating.

His “contributions to the Arlington skyline include Dominion Towers, Shawnee and Rosslyn’s Ames Building,” the Falls Church News-Press’ Charlie Clark wrote in a 2015 biographical article. He made significant donations to the Virginia Hospital Center Foundation, Marymount University, Shenandoah University, and the David M. Brown Planetarium, among other institutions.

Caruthers also volunteered and served on numerous boards, including the Arlington School Board, the Virginia State Board of Education and the George Mason University Board of Visitors.

In 2007 Caruthers received the Arlington Community Foundation Spirit of Community Award. Ten years later, he was honored by the Virginia state legislature with the following joint resolution.

Agreed to by the House of Delegates, January 13, 2017
Agreed to by the Senate, January 16, 2017

WHEREAS, Preston C. Caruthers, a patriotic veteran and a successful entrepreneur, has supported and strengthened the Arlington community through his generosity and visionary leadership; and

WHEREAS, a native of Oklahoma, Preston Caruthers learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age as a child of the Great Depression, supporting his family through part-time summer jobs and by working on his uncle’s farm; and

WHEREAS, Preston Caruthers attended Will Rogers High School before he joined many of the other young men of his generation in service to the nation during World War II; as a member of the United States Navy, he served in the Pacific theater of the war; and

WHEREAS, after his honorable military service, Preston Caruthers returned to the United States, continued his education at George Washington University, and founded a construction business, which thrived thanks to his charisma, business acumen, and industrious nature; and

WHEREAS, Preston Caruthers’ company completed residential homes and communities, apartments, and commercial parks and office buildings; his proudest accomplishment was the creation of Belmont Bay, a unique waterfront community at the confluence of the Occoquan River and Potomac River; and

WHEREAS, after settling in Arlington, Preston Caruthers became a pillar of the community, holding leadership positions on the boards of the First Bank of Virginia, The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Arlington Hospital Foundation and supporting the National Museum of the United States Army, the Virginia Hospital Center Foundation, and Marymount University; and

WHEREAS, Preston Caruthers was deeply committed to lifelong learning and worked to instill that passion in the youth of the community as a member of the Arlington County School Board and through leadership positions at George Mason University, the Virginia State Board of Education, and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges; and

WHEREAS, in 2007, Preston Caruthers received the Arlington Community Foundation Spirit of Community Award, and he earned the nickname “Mr. Arlington” for his tireless work to enhance the quality of life of his fellow residents; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend Preston C. Caruthers for his work as a developer, philanthropist, and community advocate; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Preston C. Caruthers for his decades of exceptional service to the residents of Arlington and the Commonwealth.

Caruthers was married to wife Jeanne for 66 years prior to her death in 2015, according to a past Sun Gazette article. They had five children, all raised locally.

Memorial service plans have so far not been announced publicly. Clark tells ARLnow that he’s working on an obituary for Caruthers, to be published later this week.

Update at 12:45 p.m. — Marymount University just released the following statement from President Irma Becerra.

Preston Caruthers was a valued and longtime friend of Marymount University. He was a true counselor and major philanthropic supporter, and we are honored to have a building named in his honor on campus. He greatly valued education in general, and private education and Marymount in particular. In fact, through his efforts Marymount joined the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, a group supporting scholarships for private institutions in Virginia — and our involvement continues to this day. He will be missed dearly, but we are truly blessed to continue our relationship with the Caruthers family.

Preston and Jeanne Caruthers in an undated photo (courtesy of Marymount University)

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