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JUST IN: Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley dies

Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley died unexpectedly at his home in Alexandria on Wednesday, July 13.

Donley was 66 years old and died of a heart attack, according to the Alexandria Times. He lived in the city for nearly six decades.

Donley was mayor from 1996 to 2003, after which he became chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia for two years. He was also vice mayor from 1994 to 1996, and then again when he returned to politics from 2009 to 2012.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that Donley was a transformational mayor.

“So much of the progressive and dynamic City we enjoy today has its roots in Kerry’s leadership and persistence,” Wilson said. “He was a friend and someone I valued for advice on many occasions. Our City has lost a great leader.”

Donley tried running for Mayor again in 2015, but lost in a three-way primary between then-Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and former Mayor Allison Silberberg, the latter going on to win the general election. Professionally, he was the former athletic director at T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School), and spent years as a senior vice president at John Marshall Bank and Virginia Commerce Bank.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine said he’d forged a strong bond with Donley.

“Kerry Donley and I met as mayors, and that experience forged a strong bond between us,” Kaine said. “He was a wonderful civic leader, a devoted public servant, and a good friend. He will be greatly missed.”

Donley is survived by his wife, Eva, his five children and grandchildren.

No information on services have been released.

The City released the following message:

Former Mayor and Living Legend of Alexandria Kerry J. Donley passed away the evening of July 13, at the age of 66. A fixture in the community, Donley and his family called the City of Alexandria home for nearly 60 years.

“Kerry was a transformational mayor of our City,” stated Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “So much of the progressive and dynamic City we enjoy today has its roots in Kerry’s leadership and persistence. He was a friend and someone I valued for advice on many occasions. Our City has lost a great leader.”

The former Mayor had an enduring career as both an elected official and civic leader of the City of Alexandria. First elected to the Alexandria City Council in 1988, Donley served as Mayor from 1996 to 2003. He also served as Vice Mayor from 1994 to 1996 and 2009 to 2012.

As a member of City Council and Mayor, Donley led the resolution for the reconstruction of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, attracted the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the City and worked to save 500 market-rate affordable housing units for our residents. He was instrumental in the building of the first elementary school in the City in 35 years, Samuel Tucker School. He led our City through the shock and tragedy of the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the economic impact that followed.

During his tenure, Donley served on several boards, including: the Alexandria Transit Company Board (DASH) (Vice-Chair), Cameron Station Development Task Force (Co-Chair), the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (Chair), the Youth Policy Commission and the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (Chair).

The Former Mayor’s commitment to the betterment of the City did not stop at 301 King Street. His compassion for the community extended into all areas. He served on several non-profit boards, including: Carpenter’s Shelter, the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, the Center for Alexandria’s Children, Alexandria Senior Services and Alexandria Renew Enterprises.

In 2017, Donley was recognized as a Living Legend of Alexandria. In his lifetime, he also received the Lifetime Achievement Award (2016) by Volunteer Alexandria, the Carpenter’s Shelter Wall of Honor (2015), served as the Grand Marshall for the Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade (2016) and was named Business Leader of the Year by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce (2004). In 2002, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments bestowed Donley with the Elizabeth and David Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award.

Former Mayor Kerry J. Donley is survived by his wife, Eva, and their five daughters and five grandchildren (with an additional grandchild arriving soon). Funeral Arrangements are pending at this time.

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