Part of the human condition is living with our own mortality. We have a finite number of years to live, love and make a difference in the world. Those who make the most of those years leave legacies that survive them. Three Alexandrians who passed away last month, though their life spans differed greatly, will be remembered for the many lives they touched.
Stewart Dunn, who died September 27 at age 87, was a leading figure in the city from the day he moved here in 1980. A Pittsburgh native and lawyer by trade, Dunn was best known in Alexandria for his 21 years of service on the planning commission and for his gentlemanly conduct even when dealing with contentious issues.
Dunn’s civic involvement extended well beyond the planning commission. He was a member of the Old Town Civic Association and he served on the city’s human rights commission, the board of Hopkins House and the board of zoning ap- peals. In his principled opposition to some projects, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, he provided an example of how disagreements can be handled with civility.
His leadership, insights and especially his comportment will be sorely missed.
Barbara Mason, who died September 4 at the age of 66, was a local pioneer in early childhood education. She was instrumental in forming the Alexandria Community Network Preschool, now called The Child and Family Network Centers, back in 1984.
Network Preschool, as it was popularly called, took a holistic approach to early childhood education. It worked with families of disadvantaged children in addition to providing high quality preschool for the children themselves. Mason’s legacy lives on in the thousands of children and families her preschool has touched in the 32 years since its inception. She was a visionary with fierce determination.
Another Alexandrian we lost in September was not as public a figure as Dunn or Mason. In fact, James Morrison, who passed away last week at age 36, was born the year Dunn moved to the city. But Morrison, who tended bar at the Evening Star Cafe in Del Ray for the last 12 years, also touched many people.
Known for his humor and devotion, Morrison was a fixture at the restaurant and in the greater Del Ray community. He was an example of how to positively impact others in our work and daily lives.
Though we don’t like to think about it, all of our days are numbered. What Dunn, Mason and Morrison showed us is whether we are granted 87, 66 or only 36 years, it is possible to make a difference.
Dunn’s service to the community spanned the entirety of a lengthy life well lived. Mason was only 34 when she founded Network Preschool and Morrison was in his 20s when he became involved in the Del Ray community.
We send our condolences to the families and friends of Dunn, Mason and Morrison. In each instance, their passing leaves a void in our community.