Former Fairfax County Park Authority Board member George Lovelace is being remembered by colleagues as a great, funny, fantastic guy who will always be remembered for his commitment to public service. Mr. Lovelace died of lung cancer on March 22, 2020, at his home in Locust Grove, Virginia. He was 83.
Mr. Lovelace made a career of serving the public, and when appointed to the Park Board in 2004, he took his volunteer role seriously. He regularly attended meetings at night, could be found in parks and along trails with a camera in hand, and turned out for weekend events and workshops. When decisions needed to be made, he was thorough in his research and was interested in all sides of the story. He well understood how the Board’s decisions could impact the community for years to come.
Park Board Chairman William Bouie remembers Mr. Lovelace as a friend and mentor. They served together on the Board from 2004-2010 during turbulent times as the economy was crashing and the Board was trying to change to a business model. Mr. Bouie remembers, “George had a huge baritone voice and a commanding presence when he spoke. Whatever George said was meaningful and you had to respect what he was saying regardless of the position that you were taking.” Bouie notes, “ George was so creative as a photographer who saw many different pictures through many lenses. This is what made George special. He had an infectious laugh that lit up a room.”
Chairman Bouie describes his mentor as a mediator who used that skillset on the Board and in life. “He helped steer us in the right direction when you were not quite sure what the right direction was. He taught me so many of those skills as I watched the Master for so many years practice his craft.”
To put it simply, Mr. Bouie says, “Everyone loved George. It is only appropriate that he is being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a place of rest for heroes, and George Lovelace was a true hero.”
Mr. Lovelace joined the Board as an at-large member in February 2004 and served as Secretary from 2009 until his departure in 2010. He also served as Chairman of the Park Operations Committee and as a member of the Diversity and Succession Committee, the Park Services Committee and the Strategic Planning and Initiatives Committee. As the Park Authority Board’s liaison to the Athletic Council, he handled differences between the two organizations with grace and aplomb, finding ways to compromise and keep things moving with goodwill and a friendly smile.
Hal Strickland, who was serving as Board Chairman at the time, asked Lovelace to take on the liaison role to the Athletic Council. “We had several very difficult and complex issues to work out with the sports groups in the county,” Mr. Strickland explains. “I suggested to George to take the battle to them in a hardline approach. George suggested letting him lob a few ‘love grenades’ into the conflict first to see what might be gained. His approach worked and George resolved the conflict in a pleasant manner.” Mr. Strickland says Mr. Lovelace could be counted on for valuable feedback on Board matters, and when asked to take on responsibilities, “he was always very professional and supportive.”
Former Board member Ed Batten says Mr. Lovelace will always be remembered “for his commitment to service, stewardship and excellence.” In addition, he remembers Mr. Lovelace as a “master photographer.” Mr. Batten says he really enjoyed working with Mr. Lovelace on the Board and always envied his buddy’s passion for photography.
Board Vice Chair Ken Quincy says he and Mr. Lovelace were not only fellow FCPA Board members, they also became friends. “We often ‘pulled each other’s chain’ in fun and talked Park Authority and Vienna issues outside the Park Authority.” He, too, remembers Mr. Lovelace as an avid photographer who produced photographs that were “truly professional.” Mr. Quincy says, “He will be missed.”
Beyond the Park Authority, Mr. Lovelace was a well-known local elected official, community activist and long-time member of the Vienna Town Council. He was elected to a term in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1996 and served with distinction. In 1976, he co-founded the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association and served as president until 1980. He subsequently served in appointed positions as chairman of the Vienna Planning Commission and as a member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, the Fairfax County Small Business Commission and the Virginia Regional Planning Commission.
The Lincoln University physics graduate served a tour of duty in Vietnam with the Army, as well as postings in Europe and Turkey over the span of his 20-year military career. He attended the Command and General Staff College and obtained a master’s degree in telecommunications management from George Washington University. Before his retirement, he held IT management and consultant positions with CSC, Boeing, EDS and the General Services Administration. He served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Neglected and Abused Children, volunteered as a mediator in Washington, DC’s Superior Court, and worked as a mediator for Spotsylvania’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Through his thousands of hours of community service, Mr. Lovelace was an inspiration to others and a true credit to his community. His family planned a private gathering in his honor. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.