ALEXANDRIA, VA – It was the room to be in last night when 12 inspirational people were inducted as Living Legends of Alexandria.
“Each person has left an indelible mark on the community and was chosen after a rigorous nomination and review process,” said Mary Wadland, president of the Board of Directors of the Living Legends of Alexandria.
Mayor Justin Wilson read a city proclamation, which was given to each new Legend, and remarked from the podium, “You start to realize that some of the same people are involved in multiple things. Those are the kinds of people we’re honoring tonight. These are the people that make a lasting difference to our community. Decades from now when all of us are long gone, you will go around and you will say, ‘Wow, that happened because of them.’”
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Over 200 guests filled the seats in the auditorium at the George Washington Masonic Memorial on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 as emcee John Porter walked everyone through the accomplishments of each honoree. In addition, a short video was played for each new Legend (links to those videos follow each name below).
David Baker – In addition to an accomplished police career, including serving Alexandria as its Executive Deputy Police Chief for 16 years and Chief of Police for three years, David Baker is passionate about improving the lives of Alexandria’s seniors, working as a volunteer and board member at both Goodwin House and Senior Services of Alexandria.
Nelson Greene, Jr. – Operating frequently behind the scenes, Nelson Greene, Jr., ensured that Alexandria’s underserved were represented through his advocacy, active memberships in many committee organizations, and as a school board member. Nelson Greene, Jr. died in March 2022 and was honored posthumously, and his wife Donita stood in for him.
Dana Lawhorne – A native Alexandrian, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne retired after 43 years of local law enforcement service. Lawhorne became Sheriff in 2006 after serving for 27 years as an Alexandria police officer and detective. His specific accomplishments and advocacy for those in need have made indelible changes in the community before and after retirement.
Carolyn B. Lewis – An educator and influencer in Alexandria since the early 60s, Carolyn B. Lewis has been instrumental in encouraging the younger generations to step up to succeed and pay it forward. She is one of the original founders of Project Discovery Alexandria, an organization with 20 chapters in seven states providing guidance to students pursuing higher education.
Patty and Kate Moran – Mother and daughter Patty and Kate Moran have dedicated their lives to the education of Alexandria’s children. Both are volunteers and mentors who have contributed in lasting ways to build and promote important events that forever give back to the city.
Gary Oelze – Alexandria is a mecca in the entertainment circle thanks to Gary Oelze’s leadership and ownership of The Birchmere, the music venue he took over in 1966. Over the decades, thousands of notable musicians and other acts performed on his stage. It is estimated that 3 million people have enjoyed diverse entertainment at his famous hall. Gary Oelze passed away in January of this year, just days before we announced the 2023 Legends. He was honored posthumously, and his wife Susan stood in for him.
James Paige – Colonel James Paige co-founded the Concerned Citizens of Alexandria (CCNA) in 2009 and now serves as its Executive Director. CCNA is a nonprofit that has helped increase the high school graduation rate by focusing on educational improvement for underserved and at-risk students.
Redella S. “Del” Pepper – When she announced retirement in 2020, Del Pepper was the oldest and longest-serving member of the Alexandria City Council, serving 36 years from 1985 until the beginning of 2022. She was vice mayor (most votes among council members) from 1996 to 1997 and 2003 to 2009.
John “Jack” Sullivan – Jack has given more than 40 years to advocacy, involvement, and education about historic preservation, sewer outfalls, civic activism, and the environment, proving that one voice can make a difference. Increased parkland and a much cleaner river are two of his enduring legacies.
William Vosbeck – Through his work as a renowned architect, William Vosbeck helped re-design Alexandria through its urban renewal program, helping create one of the most historic cities in the country. William Vosbeck passed away in 2021 and was honored posthumously. Longtime friend Jim Carmalt stood in for him.
Charles Wilson – A retired U.S. Air Force officer, Charles Wilson dedicates his time to Alexandria’s youth by serving in numerous advocacy positions and making a difference in countless situations, including serving in the past as vice chairman of the school board.
Following the stage presentation and videos, guests mingled with the new Legends in the great hall of the memorial, and enjoyed an extensive buffet catered by the Homegrown Restaurant Group (Pork Barrel BBQ, Whiskey and Oyster, Tequila & Taco, Sweet Fire Donna’s, Holy Cow) and Alexandria Cupcake. Entertainment was provided by a jazz group from Bishop Ireton High School.
Living Legends of Alexandria is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and chronicling individuals who have made significant contributions to the quality of life in Alexandria, Virginia. If you know someone you think should be a Living Legend, please nominate them here!!
SLIDESHOW OF PHOTOS BELOW
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