Living Legends of Alexandria announced the selection of the Living Legends for 2016. The work of these twelve individuals contributed to the community of Alexandria in arts and music, community services for seniors, youth and children, civil rights, historic preservation, and literacy and writing programs. “We are honored to acknowledge this year’s legends for their vision, hard work, and accomplishment,” notes Living Legends of Alexandria President, Jennifer Ayers. “Their unique and significant contributions have and will continue benefit the community for years to come.”
Every year, Living Legends of Alexandria invites the community to nominate neighbors they know or citizens they admire for recognition by the community as a whole. The projects, philanthropy and work these individuals do help move Alexandria forward to the future. The community is invited to meet the 2016 Legends at a Meet the Legends Reception on March 15th at the United States Patent and Trade Office in Carlyle. Tickets and information can be found at www.2016legends.eventbrite.com.
The Board of Directors of Living Legends of Alexandria announces the following 2016 Living Legends:
Elizabeth “Betsy” Anderson
Betsy Anderson was nominated by the Art League, Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association and Torpedo Factory Art Center Board for significant contributions to Alexandria arts. Simultaneously with demanding volunteer duties, Anderson has sustained an impressive career as a painter with works represented in private and corporate collections nationally and internationally. She lives her vision nurturing the arts and artists enriching Alexandria.
Following her 32-year career with Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, Janet Barnett served as executive director of Senior Services of Alexandria where she created their Friendly Visitors Program, expanded the Meals on Wheels Program and Speakers Series. She is president of Old Town Business and Professional Association and serves on the board of the Police Foundation, the Board of Lady Managers, and Agenda Alexandria.
Coach Herman Boone built a cohesive and cooperative high school football team from rival Alexandria teams, when a single new high school was built to be completely integrated. He led that team to the 1971 Virginia state championship. He also sought out and obtained college athletic scholarships for more than 50 black athletes.
Diane Charles has lived and worked in Alexandria over 30 years. She has recognized community needs and found ways to make positive change. As Director of Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) for 11 years and currently leading ALIVE! she has grown and strengthened programs and staffing and leads by example as a citizen-volunteer.
Ruth and Bill Cleveland
Ruth and Bill Cleveland have been involved in community activities for years with Bill becoming the first black Republican on City Council where he served 15 years, 6 as Vice Mayor. They are actively involved with the nonprofit organization, The Untouchables, serving young men 5 to 18 years old. Participants in The Untouchables learn civic responsibility while giving back to the community.
Wanda Dowell began work at Fort Ward in 1965, rose through the ranks and served as site director for more than 20 years, attaining Museum accreditation and a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Dowell said, “Just because you are a small museum, there is no reason you can’t be a quality museum.”
Warden Foley and William McNamara
Because of their positions of leadership at American Legion Post 24 over many decades, it is recognized that the gift of historic Gadsby’s Tavern and adjacent City Hotel buildings to the citizens and City of Alexandria would never have happened without Warden Foley and Bill McNamara.
“The Dream Dog story: See a Need, Create a Program!” So says, and does, Lorraine Friedman, attorney/mom/volunteer/songwriter/teacher whose creative programs reach broadly and deeply into Alexandria. Since 2002, the DreamDog Foundation has served thousands of children and adults with innovative literacy, creative writing, performing arts and empowerment programs and has put 250,000 books on shelves for children in their neighborhoods.
As Music Director of the Washington Metropolitan Association (WMPA), Ulysses S. James is a Legend to Alexandria’s classical music audiences. In his 31 years of leadership, presenting 28-30 annual events, James’ impact has been extraordinary. The City of Alexandria and the Arts community have been and will be for many years to come, the beneficiaries of his years of service.
Kim Allen Kluge
Kim Allen Kluge has served as Music Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra for 28 years. Kluge transformed a fledging community orchestra into a professional one of national acclaim. When world renowned violinist Midori selected Alexandria as one of only two cities for her Orchestra in Residencies program in 2012, the Washington Post heralded it as “a major coup” for Kluge, the ASO and high school musicians in Alexandria. “I hope I have made a lasting contribution to the city that I love so deeply,” Kluge said. “I truly have a sincere belief in the power of music to transform everyone’s life.”
Steve Nearman couldn’t change things for every young person, but hoped to help one child to take the better fork in the road. Between 1999 and 2015 he volunteered and led the Child & Family Network Centers, which provides preschool for at-risk children. An avid runner, he created the Woodrow Wilson Bridge half-marathon and the Visually Impaired Half Marathon Championships to benefit area charities.
Jodie Smolik came in 1997 to The Winkler Preserve, 45 acres of native plants and wildlife near I-395. She created innovative science education programs offered free to all Alexandria City Public School students, built the structures to sustain them, and defended the preserve when it was threatened by highway construction in 2010, an effort successful with support of parents, teachers and the children.
Living Legends of Alexandria is a non-profit organization dedicated to honor and chronicle individuals who have made significant contributions to the quality of life in Alexandria. An annual Living Legends Catalog documents the work of this year’s class of Legends through photography and journalism, and is collected by the Virginia Library and the Library of Congress. A Photography Exhibition of Living Legends will open in March in the Lobby of Alexandria City Hall. Attendees of the 2016 Meet the Legends Reception will receive the current Living Legends Catalog publication. Living Legends Exhibitions are archived by the Office of Historic Alexandria.