CYA’s Ralph Wills Remembered Fondly

By William Bouie, Chairman, Park Authority Board

ralph-willisIt is with great sadness that we share the news that Ralph Wills died on Monday, December 18, 2017. Chantilly Youth Association reports that he died peacefully with his family by his side, and for that I am grateful. Ralph was one of those guys who just did what needed to be done and did it with a smile and a handshake. All of us will miss him, but the people he touched; the countless kids will really feel the loss.

To the Fairfax County Park Authority Ralph was much more than President of the Chantilly Youth Association, a post he held since 1998. He was an effective member of the Green Team advocacy group that supported our park bonds and an active participant on the Athletic Council. For me, and other members of the Park Authority Board, it was much more personal. He was the type of person that left you wondering how you could be a better person; just like him. He was gregarious yet humble. He was direct but always kind. And he was a community leader in the old sense of the word, when individuals made a world of difference in very ordinary ways. Not that there was anything ordinary about Ralph.

ralph-willis-signOn November 7, 2015 the Park Authority named a field after him at Sully Highlands Park. It was the least we could do and it was a well-deserved honor. Rectangular Field #1 at Sully Highlands Park honored his many accomplishments as a community leader and youth sports advocate. He was active with the Chantilly Youth Association (CYA) since 1984. He served as president of CYA for decades, representing the interests of 13,000 players. Over the years, he coached youth and adult soccer and softball teams, as well as playing soccer, softball, baseball and volleyball. He worked with 56 teams during his service as Boys under 16 Commissioner for the Suburban Friendship League, also served as Senior Soccer Coordinator for CYA and as Soccer Coordinator.

Ralph had lots of titles, and lots of years on the field. He attended countless meetings of all types in order to get better facilities for kids, and athletes of all types. He was hands on and personally put out “Parks Yes” bond signs or pushed a single button, sending emails to thousands of families in support of Park Bonds. He advocated in front of elected officials for more money for parks. He believed in partnerships and friendships.

I understand that the Ralph Wills Memorial Fund will provide a means by which we can further ensure that his memory – particularly his love for kids and his commitment to making sports a part of their lives –is remembered. For details about the fund and for information about services, visit the CYA website at http://www.chantillyyouth.org/home/938779.html.

I know that the world is much better place because of Ralph Wills. He was effective and tenacious. In the words of the legendary Babe Ruth, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Rest well Ralph.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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