Newsletter
Former Voter Registrar Anna, photo via Justin Wilson/Twitter

Longtime voter registrar Anna Leider, who retired last year after managing over 40 elections, died this weekend after a long battle with brain cancer.

Leider grew up in Alexandria and was a fixture of local election days before her retirement in 2020.

Leider died Saturday, Feb. 12. Leider was remembered as an adept manager of elections and a passionate baseball fan.

“Anna was brilliant, kind, and had a wonderful smile,” former Mayor Allison Silberberg wrote on Facebook. “Her enthusiasm for life was contagious. A few years ago, I ran into her at the start of a Nats game. I distinctly remember how she was all decked out in Nats gear, ready for the game. Later, she cherished that our team won the World Series.”

“I first met Anna when I joined the Alexandria Democratic Committee in 1990 and remember her coordinating the Alexandria primary campaign in 1992 for Bill Clinton.” State Senator Adam Ebbin wrote on Facebook. “She withdrew from Democratic politics when she later joined the registrar’s office but I relied on her for advice on laws dealing with applying for absentee ballots and ways to say that more absentee ballots were fairly counted. She was a wonderful, thoughtful person who will be sorely missed.”

Photo via Justin Wilson/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Say farewell to the Fairies of Del Ray–just for now! — “You might have noticed the petite doors and houses and stained glass windows hidden in the crooks of trees and crannies of rocks in the Del Ray neighborhood.” [Zebra]

I-395 Seminary Road ramp conversion OKed by VA board — “The conversion will allow solo riders to use the ramp for a toll and HOV-3 carpoolers to continue using it for free.” [Patch]

Youngkin, Psaki respond to Northern Va. school systems’ announcements on mask requirements — “Youngkin said he would use state resources to force the school systems to comply, though he did not specify how.” [WTOP]

Obituary: Bill Stokes — “International business consultant dies at 57.” [Alexandria Gazette]

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(Updated on Dec. 23) Florence King, a 2018 Alexandria Living Legend and 2021 City Council candidate, has died.

King, who was in her early 70s, died at her Alexandria home on Thursday morning, Dec. 9, after a brief illness, according to friends. The news was a surprise to many city leaders, activists and friends.

“Very shocked to hear that news,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “She was such a vibrant presence in our City. Constantly showing up and giving back to our community in so many ways.”

King, who descended from a freed slave from George Washington’s plantation, lived in Alexandria for more than 30 years.

Notes of shock and support have poured in through Facebook.

“What an unthinkable and shocking loss,” wrote former Mayor Allison Silberberg. “I’m so saddened. Florence has made a phenomenal difference here in countless ways, and she was a friend to all. My deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved her, especially her family. Her life was a blessing and she will be sorely missed.”

A native of Fairfax County, she received a major degree in sociology and a minor degree in business administration from George Mason University, after which she worked for 17 years with the federal government. She later founded financial literacy company FMK Credit Education Center and donated her spare time to community causes. She was chair of the regional council of the United Way, chair of the Alexandria Employment Commission, sat on the Board of Trustees for the Alexandria Symphony, and was vice chair on the board of Agenda Alexandria.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker said that King was a stalwart of the community.

“I served with her on three boards & she was a constant source of kindness and positivity,” Bennett-Parker said. “Her positive impact on our community will live on for generations.”

In 2018, King was honored as a Living Legend of Alexandria. In April, she announced her Independent candidacy for City Council.

King is survived by a brother, three sisters, a son and two daughters. Her memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15,  at McLean Bible Church, 8925 Leesburg Pike in Vienna.

Via Facebook

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(Updated at 1 p.m. on October 22) Matthew Ian Gillette, a pastor and well-regarded community advocate, died suddenly on Tuesday morning, October 19.

He was 39 years old, and the cause of death has not been released.

Gillette, who lived in the city’s Lynnhaven neighborhood, is survived by his wife, Abby, and their young daughter.

“Just a tragic loss,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “Matt was someone with a deep and abiding faith, who saw his mission to help his community. We will miss him so much.”

Gillette was the director at the National Community Church in Potomac Yard, as well as co-chair of Hunger Free Alexandria and executive director of Restore Alexandria.

“Matt was a quiet, selfless force in our community,” said Bill Blackburn of the Homegrown Restaurant Group. “My heart aches for his young family.”

Gillette was also founded the Alexandria Gratitude Table at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church, providing free meals during Thanksgiving, and worked as a volunteer coordinator at Casa Chirilagua.

“It’s not just about putting something on a plate, but more about having a place where people can feel like they have a sense of community,” Gillette said of the Alexandria Gratitude Table in 2019.

Notes of shock and grief have also poured in through social media.

“For anyone who was blessed and lucky enough to know Matthew Ian Gillette, you know how unbelievable and devastating the news of his passing is to our community,” wrote Del Ray’s Gayle Reuter. “Whenever and wherever he saw a need, he was there to fill it.”

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $4,000 to support Gillette’s family.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.

Via Facebook

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Police outside the McDonalds where a shooting occurred, staff photo by James Cullum

What a busy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a juvenile who was shot outside the McDonald’s at the Bradlee Shopping Center on Tuesday, Sept. 21. There have also been a number of concerning incidents at Alexandria City Public Schools, including a juvenile who was arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School.

Meanwhile, while the COVID-19 transmission rate remains high, public events are still happening in Alexandria.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School
  2. Police dispatched three times for fighting at Alexandria City Public Schools in less than a month
  3. Police: Six hospitalized after overdoses on Alexandria-Fairfax border
  4. Poll: What do you think of Metro’s proposed Blue Line crossing to National Harbor?
  5. BREAKING: Flooding reported in Alexandria
  6. Interview: Port City Publius opens up about Alexandria
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Juvenile arrested for trespassing and assault and battery at Alexandria City High School
  9. Multiple violent charges dropped against Fairfax County man held without bond for assaulting police during arrest
  10. Preserving Arlandria’s affordability against gentrification could cost upward of $100 million
  11. JUST IN: One person injured after shots fired in West End Tuesday afternoon

Have a safe weekend! 

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Kemal Kurspahic, managing editor of Alexandria-based The Connection Newspapers and acclaimed former editor-in-chief of Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo’s daily newspaper, died last week after a stroke, Connection Newspapers reported.

Kurspahic, born Dec. 1, 1946, served as the Managing Editor of The Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia, 1997-2001 and again 2007-2021, the weekly paper said.

Kurspahic also served as the editor of Sarajevo daily newspaper Oslobodjenje from 1988 to 1994 and continued daily publication during the city’s three year siege. At the Connection Newspapers office, Kurspahic was a stoic presence who walked with a slight limp from a car crash after he was shot at by a sniper.

Kurspahic’s work in Sarajevo was the subject of Tom Gjelten’s Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege. The editor recalled his time during the siege in his book As Long as Sarajevo Exists.

While Kurspahic was focused on Northern Virginia coverage at The Connection Newspapers, getting to talk to Kurspahic about his decades of experience in international journalism and diplomatic work was a rite-of-passage for many new reporters at the newspaper.

The Connection Newspapers reported that Kurspahic was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, a Clark Fellow at Cornell University, and a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons

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Morning Notes

Former City Councilman Connie Ring dies — “Carlyle Conwell “Connie” Ring, Jr., 90, passed away peacefully on August 19, 2021, at his home at Goodwin House, Alexandria, Virginia… He was an appointed member of the Alexandria School Board from 1969 to 1978, and chairman from 1976 to 1978. During this time, he was involved in the integration of public schools in Alexandria. Connie later held a seat on Alexandria’s City Council from 1979 to 1988.” [Legacy.com]

Alexandria starts pilot program to rename Confederate-named streets — “Alexandria is launching a pilot program and new process for residents to request changes to street names in the City of Alexandria.” [Alexandria Living]

The Birchmere is requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID test — “Effective Wednesday, Aug. 25, all attendees, artists and staff will need to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before attending an event. The venue will accept three types of documentation: a physical vaccination card, digital copy of a vaccination card that matches a person’s photo ID, or negative test within the past 72 hours that matches a person’s photo ID. A physical or digital test will be accepted.” [Patch]

Brewski’s Barkhaus is celebrating National Dog Day in style — “Barkhaus opens early at 11 AM on August 26 with free puppuccinos, ‘dog beer,’ and food specialsLater, get dressed up for The Pet Gala, a ticketed event supporting the National Humane Society from 7:30 to 10PM. Black tie attire is required for all pups and humans, and tickets ($75) are on sale now.” [Washingtonian]

Alexandria firefighters to get collective bargaining training — “We’ll be running through our game plan on how we can lower holdovers, improve pay, improve working conditions, and ensure that WE the WORKERS have a seat at the table when decisions are made!” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed (during the day). Hot and humid. High 94F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low near 75F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Cannabis reviewer — “We are a DC-based start-up and cannabis review site that is rapidly growing. We are looking for cannabis connoisseurs who think they have what it takes to join our ranks as a reviewer of Virginia medical marijuana dispensary products and homegrows. This role is mostly remote but does require the ability to travel throughout one or more Virginia counties to pick-up or receive deliveries. For consideration candidates must be local to Northern Virginia and have a valid Virginia medical marijuana license.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Scott Shaw named Chamber’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year — “For the last six years, he has served as a partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). ARP operates nine restaurants including The Majestic and Theismann’s Restaurant… Outside of the restaurant industry, Shaw established Founders Hall and co-founded ALX Community. His community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. In this position… In 2017, Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Alexandria’s rich maritime history through educational programs and entertainment.” [Zebra]

Rep. Beyer says he’s working on securing stormwater management funding for Alexandria — “I’m also working to secure more federal funding for storm and sewer projects in ALX in upcoming infrastructure legislation.” [Twitter]

Alexandria accountant pleads guilty to tax fraud — “An accountant from Alexandria pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in filing false tax returns that led to over $250,000 in federal tax loss.” [Patch]

Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate dies at 18 — “Tommy Lacey was a towering figure. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was a gentle giant with a passion for sports and hanging out with friends at Al’s Steakhouse in Del Ray. A standout lacrosse player, the 2021 graduate of T.C. Williams High School was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 4.” [Gazette]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy. High 91F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Crew member at Trader Joe’s — “If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.” [Indeed]

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Former U.S. Senator John Warner died of heart failure at his home in Old Town on Tuesday night. He was 94.

Local and national leaders are remembering the Republican as an old school politician who bridged party lines with a cordiality that many say has been lost in American politics.

“John Warner truly was the best of what public service and elected leadership should be, and his loss leaves a deep void,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement. “Virginia, and America, have lost a giant.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said that he was stunned to hear of Warner’s passing.

“Virginia has lost an unmatched leader, and my family has lost a dear friend,” Kaine said in a statement. “Not having John Warner to go to for advice leaves a big hole in my life. But we can all celebrate a public servant who stood on principle, made us proud, and exemplified the best of what politics can be.”

Sen. Mark Warner (no relation), was Warner’s successor in the Senate in 2009, and said he was devastated by the loss. Both Warners faced each other in the general election for U.S. Senate in 1996, with the elder statesman winning 52.4% of the vote.

“I’m devastated to hear of the passing of my dear friend John Warner,” Warner said. “To me, he was the gold standard in Virginia. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and mentorship. I’ll miss you, John.”

Warner, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974, and was a U.S. Senator from 1979 to 2009. He was born in Washington, D.C. on February 27, 1927, and after the conflicts received a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. He became an assistant U.S. attorney in 1956, and later worked on Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign.

Warner was married three times, first from 1957 to 1973 to banking heiress Catherine Conover Mellon; followed by a six year marriage to movie star Elizabeth Taylor. In 2003, he married Jeanne Vander Myde, and the marriage lasted for the remainder of his life. He is also survived by three children.

“Senator Warner was a statesman and a patriot,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “They don’t make them like him anymore. He always put Virginia first and dearly loved Alexandria. We will miss him.”

Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) said Warner was an icon.

“He was genuine,” Moran said. “He liked people. He never acted in any offensive way toward anybody. He was always looking to gain consensus and to move forward. I can tell you my 20 years on The Defense Appropriations Committee that the strength of our military was in large part because of the influence of John Warner.”

Former Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille considered Warner a friend and said that he sought his advice before entering politics. He said that Warner advised Euille, who up that that point had been a School Board member, on taking a political side and getting support from the base of a party instead of remaining an independent.

“John will be missed,” Euille said. “Despite being of different political parties, he was a human being and friend first and foremost.”

Funeral arrangements have not been released, and Northam has ordered all Virginia flags to be flown at half staff on the day of his funera..

Image via Sen. Tim Kaine/Facebook

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Former Alexandria Delegate Richard R.G. Hobson passed away at his home on Sunday, May 23.

Hobson’s family announced his death on social media on Monday. He was 89 years old.

Mayor Justin Wilson thanked Hobson’s family and wished them condolences.

“Dick Hobson set the gold-standard for service to our community,” Wilson said. “Over decades of service to our City, he never lost his commitment to our community and our people. He was so knowledgeable on so many topics. I left every conversation with him learning several new things, and his laughter was infectious. His family and close friends are in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing him with Alexandria.”

A familiar face in Alexandria politics for decades, Hobson retired as Alexandria’s Delegate for the 21st District after two terms in 1979 and spent the next several decades as a land use attorney with McGuire Woods.

“I never intended to make a career out of the House of Delegates,” he told the Washington Post, emphasizing that “I’m not going away” and promised to continue work in local politics “in finding and encouraging persons of integrity and ability to seek and hold public office.”

Born on July 28, 1931, in Orange, New Jersey, Hobson and his family moved to Alexandria in 1936, according to a biography written in Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill’s website. He was in the first graduating class of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, and then attended George Washington Middle School and Episcopal High School. Hobson graduated from Princeton University and then served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy before getting his law degree from Harvard Law School.

In 1959, he met his wife, Kathleen Stanton, and they were married the following year. In 1962, he and his wife moved back to Alexandria. His career credits included stints as chairs of the Virginia Bar Association, the 8th Congressional District Committee and the Alexandria Democratic Committee (ADC).

In 2014, the ADC awarded Hobson with its lifetime achievement award.

ADC Chair Clarence Tong said that Hobson was a very dedicated, well-respected and valued member of the ADC family.

“His service spanned for over five decades, including representing Alexandria as a Member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and serving as a precinct leader and long-time Chair of the Resolutions Committee,” Tong said. “We will greatly miss Dick and offer our condolences to Kay and the entire Hobson family.”

Hobson is survived by his wife, Kay, and his children Rich Hobson, Hartley Hobson Wensing, Lee Hobson and Kathleen Hobson Davis and their children. Details of funeral services have not been released.

Photo via Jack Powers/Facebook

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