Police Release Identity of Burning Victim

November 2, 2010 by · 4 Comments 


November 2, 2010 (Updated)

Falls Church City Police are conducting a cooperative investigation with the Arlington Fire Marshal regarding a City resident who died from burns early Sunday morning.

Police identified the victim as Antonia Marie Alba, 54, of 362 James Street.

On Saturday, October 30, at 1:47 p.m., police responded to the James Street address for a report of a woman on fire.  There, police found the victim leaning against the outside wall of a residence, underneath a spigot with water running over her.  She had second and third degree burns over 70 percent of her body.

Rescue units transported the woman to T.J. Elementary School on S. Oak Street, where she was then taken by Med Star helicopter to the Washington Hospital Center.

On Sunday, October 31, at approximately 3:30 a.m., the woman succumbed to her injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A.C. Miller, Former City Resident and FCT Contributor


August 2, 2010

A.C. Miller, 61, resident of West Tisbury, MA, died at his home near Lambert’s Cove on Martha’s Vineyard, Thursday, July 22. He passed peacefully just before sunset, surrounded by his loving wife June, their Westie Marley, family, and friends.

Born in 1948 to Loretta Hunsberger and Clifford Eugene Miller in Clay Center, Kansas, A.C. (his formal name, though also known as “Ace”) lived a loving life that embraced family, business, world events, politics, and a passion for the present moment. He will be greatly missed and remembered as a loving and steadfast inspiration to all who were fortunate to know him.

After growing up in Kansas and Colorado, A. C. received a degree in political science from Southern Colorado State College in 1970 and earned a Masters in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado in 1973.  He subsequently served in the Peace Corps in Kabul, Afghanistan from 1977 to 1979 as a teacher of computer science and English. His service in Afghanistan established a lifelong passion for social justice, democracy, and politics.

After ten years working for the U.S. Department of Commerce and then as a telecommunications consultant in Boulder, Colorado, A.C. relocated to Falls Church, Virginia, where he worked for American Mobile Systems before forming Spectrum Resources. With savvy vision and good timing under A.C.’s leadership, he and his partners succeeded in business, capitalizing on the exploding radio and telecommunications industry by obtaining hundreds of radio spectrum licenses throughout the U.S., which later contributed to the foundation of the national cellular phone system. Subsequently, the same team went on to build a very successful radio tower company which owned over 100 communications towers at the time it was very successfully sold. In Virginia, A.C. also served local government on the Falls Church City’s Economic Development Authority.

He was well known as a coach and supporter of many youth sports teams, especially at George Mason High School and High Point Pool. He embraced many passions, especially the academic and athletic achievements of his kids and their friends. A.C. was devoted to physical fitness and completed a triathalon and several Marine Corps marathons, as well as being an avid golfer. His love of the New York Times crosswords, driving his M5, and traveling throughout the world gave him great pleasure.

A.C. became a full-time resident of Martha’s Vineyard in 2009 where he was the Executive Director of the Men’s Bereavement Group of Martha’s Vineyard – a fitting final life’s coda that combined his passion for business with the desire to help those in need.

He is survived by his loving wife, June Myers Miller of West Tisbury, MA; his daughter, Rory Leraris and her husband Mike of New York, NY; his son, Robin and his wife Katelyn of Columbus, OH; his stepsons, Justin and Tobias Myers, Tobias’ wife, Leslie, and Tobias and Leslie’s children, Lily and Tanner of Martha’s Vineyard, MA. He is also survived by his mother, Loretta Miller of Keytesville, MO, and his former wife, Barbara Grable Miller of Washington, DC. A.C. was preceded in death by his father, his sister, Patricia Simmons of Palm Desert, CA, his brother, Dr. William Miller of Keytesville, MO, and his loyal Newfie, Huckleberry.

In lieu of flowers or other tokens of love, A.C.’s family asks that donations be made to Island Hospice, P.O. Box 4188, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or The Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group, P.O. Box 2214, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

Celebrations of A.C.’s life are being planned for the fall on Martha’s Vineyard and in Falls Church, VA.

Editor’s Note: A.C. Miller was an early contributor to the Falls Church Times, writing a series about the CBCCitizens for a Better City – A Member’s Perspective” and “CBC — A Member’s Perspective — Part Two.”

Thomas E. Sawner, City Property Developer


July 21, 2010

Thomas Sawner, a Falls Church commercial property owner and developer and president of Educational Options, Inc., died peacefully in his home July 11, according to the Washington Post.

Sawner figured prominently in plans for development of the Wilden senior housing building envisioned for 350 South Washington Street.  He was the owner of the office building at 360 South Washington, and initially opposed the City’s plans to build the Wilden next to his own property.  

Subsequently, however, Sawner signed a non-binding letter of intent to sell his building to City developer Bob Young, who intends to build an office building with a parking garage on the site.  In order for the required parking to be available on schedule, Young’s building must be built concurrently with the Wilden.

It is not known how Sawner’s sudden passing may affect plans for the Wilden.  Sawner, who also owned properties at 500 and 510 Annandale Road, had hoped to consolidate his company’s local offices in Falls Church City.

Thomas E. Sawner was born in Savannah, Tennessee in 1954. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1976 and later received a doctorate from the George Washington University. He retired from military duty in 1999.

A resident of Arlington, Sawner is survived by his wife, Bettina; his children Ann and TJ and their mother, Cynthia Terriberry; his parents, Tom and Doris Sawner; his brother, Jeff; his sisters, Jan Robertson and Elizabeth Kowalski; his stepdaughter Tamara Preiss; her husband, Jeremy Preiss, and their two children, Madeleine and Ben.

A memorial service will be held Monday, July 26, at 11 a.m. at the Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington.

Carey Rainey Gray, TJ Teacher, Remembered for Caring Spirit


June 8, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School teacher Carey Rainey Gray is being remembered  for her positive attitude and caring spirit.  Gray passed away Saturday after an 11-month battle with cancer.  She was 34.

“As the reading specialist at TJ, Carey worked with students who needed additional help,” Superintendent Lois Berlin said.  “She was the embodiment of a caring spirit, and she inspired her students to become successful in the most sweet, gentle manner.   She will be missed.”

Gray was a 10-year veteran teacher and a 2005 nominee for the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.  In her nomination letter, then TJ Principal Trudy Taylor described Gray as, “a team player whose warm and trusting nature allows her to set a comfort level in her classroom that encourages her students to take risks with their attempts at learning.”

TJ students also wrote letters of support describing Gray as, “someone who is nice and funny and is honest and fair because she splits things equally.”

Gray’s teaching career started in September 1999, when she was hired to teach first grade at Merritt Academy in Fairfax.  She signed on with the Falls Church City Public Schools two years later, serving first as a 2nd grade teacher and later as the reading specialist at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. 

Gray was a 1998 graduate of North Carolina State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.  She earned her licensure in elementary education in 1999 from Meredith College and she earned her Master of Arts degree in education from the Virginia Tech in 2006.  Gray was also a graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va.  

Gray is survived by her husband, Trevor, and her son, Carter.  Visitation will take place from 4– 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8, at Murphy Funeral Home located at 1102 W. Broad Street in Falls Church.  The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, June 9, at 10 a.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 11900 Lawyers Road, Reston, Va.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions in Carey Gray’s name be made to the Mary Riley Styles Public Library.

Jeannine A. Smail, 84 — VPIS Board Member

February 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

February 5, 2010

Jeannine A. Smail, 84, passed away on Thursday, January 28, 2010.  Beloved wife of the late J. Paul Smail, mother of Jeannine Henriet, stepmother of William, Sam and Michael Smail. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Jeannine became very involved in volunteer work, the most noted being on the Falls Church Veterans Memorial Committee, which erected a memorial to veterans in 1994.  She also served as a friendly visitor and caller for the Fairfax Red Cross, and on the Board of Directors of the Village Preservation and Improvement Society.

Viewing/visitation will take place Tuesday morning, February 9, from 9:45-10:15 a.m. at Murphy Falls Church Funeral Home, 1102 W. Broad Street (Rt.7).  The funeral service will follow at 10:30 a.m. and the internment at 11.30 a.m. at Oakwood Cemetery.

Dr. James Henry Meriwether Henderson, 92, Son of Mary Ellen Henderson

December 11, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Henderson with containers that once held soil from the moon given to him by Dr. Carl Sagan.

Henderson with containers that once held soil from the moon given to him by Dr. Carl Sagan.

Dr. James Henry Meriwether Henderson, Professor/Dean Emeritus of Tuskegee University and a Falls Church native, died Dec. 3 at age 92. He was a plant physiologist at Tuskegee for more than 50 years and was the son of Falls Church educator Mary Ellen Henderson.

Survivors include his son, Edwin B. (Nikki) Henderson II, of Falls Church.

A memorial service will be held at the Tuskegee University Chapel on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m. A memorial service is also scheduled at Highland Beach, Md. on Aug. 10, 2010. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the James H.M. Henderson memorial scholarship fund established at Tuskegee University.

In 2001, Tuskegee News editor and publisher Guy Rhodes wrote a history of Dr. Henderson when he was 84. Excerpts (recently updated by Mr. Rhodes) appear below: Read more

Mary Anne Burke Graves, 66, Retired Mount Daniel Kindergarten Teacher

November 2, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

20091104051553Mary Anne Burke Graves, 66, retired Mount Daniel kindergarten teacher, died on Wednesday, October 28, 2009.  Beloved wife of the late Larry Graves; mother of Kiernan Graves; daughter of Capitola Taff; sister to Betsy Lynn and Jim, Brian, Russell, and Ginger Burke; also survived by 12 nieces and nephews.

Known for her creativity in the classroom, Mary Anne teamed up with art teachers and colleagues to win many Washington Post Grants in the Arts, letting the arts come alive for her kindergarten students  at Mount Daniel.  A lover of books and travel, she retired in June 2009.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Falls Church Arts, c/o C. Kaye, Treasurer, P.O. Box 6912, Falls Church, VA 22040.

Information excerpted from Washington Post and Inside Track, November 2009.

Merrill Peterson, 88, UVA Dean and Jeffersonian Scholar

September 28, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Merrill Peterson

Peterson. . .

Merrill D. Peterson, 88, a University of Virginia history professor, former Chair of the History Department and Dean of the Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University and noted Jeffersonian scholar, died Wednesday, Sept. 23, in Charlottesville.

Survivors include two sons, Jeffrey W. Peterson, of Falls Church, and Kent M. Peterson of Lenexa, Kansas, and a grandchild, James W. Peterson. His wife of 51 years, Jean H. Peterson, died in 1995.

A memorial service will be held in Charlottesville at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, 2 p.m. Sunday, September 27, in the Rotunda Room. Read more

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