Now in its eighth year, Living Legends of Alexandria is an ongoing, not-for-profit photo-documentary project to identify, honor and chronicle Alexandria’s recent history makers. The criteria this year was the creation of something tangible that improves the quality of life in Alexandria that would not likely have existed without this person’s vision and determination to make it happen.
Living Legends of Alexandria has announced the Legends of 2015: Kathleen Baker, Marga Fripp, Alice P. Morgan, Fred Parker, Gayle Reuter and Joyce Rawlings. Feature stories about them will be published throughout the year.
The Legends are selected by the Living Legends board of directors from among nominations received from the community. The nominees and Legends will be introduced at the annual Meet the Legends reception, Thursday, March 19, at the Patent and Trade Office Madison Building in Alexandria, VA.
Kathleen Baker, artist, educator, advocate, toured internationally with one-woman shows teaching women’s lives in history. She organized the professional nonprofit Opera Americana, presenting early and contemporary American works. Her elementary school students created operas on Butterflies, The Water Cycle, Zero, and Civil Rights in Virginia 1607-present. Her advocacy for arts and cross-cultural understanding live in the Alexandria Arts Forum and in the Alexandria-Caen Exchange Committee.
Marga Fripp, founder and “Chief Visionary” behind Alexandria-based Empowered Women International, marks thirteen years of service to over 3,000 immigrant, low-income, and minority women.This unique, full-service nonprofit has empowered many with the tools and support to become successful
Alice Morgan initiated and chaired Alexandria’s Martin Luther King Memorial Service, received the Alexandria Commission on Women’s Marguerite Payez Lifetime Achievement Award, was the first woman and first African American woman to be appointed to the Planning Commission, and was the first African American woman to run for City Council.
Fred Parker and his late brother Jim took a risk on a dilapidated building on upper King Street for their first Hard Times Café chili parlor. The pioneering chili slinger paved the way for an array of restaurants, shops and hotels near the King Street Station that have revitalized the neighborhood and made it a thriving destination.
Joyce Rawlings’ service to Alexandria connects children, youth and parents with schools and services, with a particular emphasis on assisting minority and immigrant families. Often among those who started Alexandria programs, Rawlings advocated for and helped create Family Resource Learning Centers – precursors of Alexandria’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) centers.
Gayle Reuter was instrumental in turning the Del Ray neighborhood into the place “Where Main Street Still Exists.” Today she continues to be a driving force in the Del Ray Halloween Parade, Art on the Avenue, Turkey Trot and all of the other Del Ray events she helped create and the neighborhood is now known for.
All photo credits Steven Halperson/Tisara Photography. Images provided by Living Legends Alexandria.