Former Vienna mayor and Town Council member L. Dean Wallace died of liver cancer on Nov. 26, his 89th birthday.
"He's the kind of person every citizen wants to elect" as a public official, said former Council member Richard Dingman, who served with Wallace in the early 1970s.
One of Wallace's contributions as a town official was speaking out against segregation in parks and public places. He also supported town legislation that advocated open housing in Vienna. The town law against segregated housing was the first passed by local Northern Virginia jurisdictions, according to former Council member Paul M. Lyons.
"It troubled him that when he moved to Vienna in 1954, it was a segregated community," said Lyons, who gave a eulogy at Wallace's memorial service.
Originally elected a Town Council member in 1957, Wallace was appointed town mayor by the Council in 1964, when then-mayor Guy Wilson died suddenly shortly after the election. He retired from the Town Council in 1972, after 15 years of service.
"He was a wonderfully steady hand at the helm," recalled present Council member Maud Robinson, whose husband served on the Council with Wallace.
Aside from serving in town government, Wallace contributed actively to the Vienna community through other activities. He founded the Vienna Pigtail-Ponytail Softball League for girls, and he was a trustee, usher and Sunday School teacher at Vienna Presbyterian Church.
Former colleagues of Wallace remembered Wallace's demeanor toward his peers and fellow citizens. They cited Wallace's honesty and humility toward citizens who came to speak about town issues.
"He worked very well with the fellow Council members. He managed to keep rancor out of the situation," Robinson said.
Lyons agreed. "In all his decision-making in the Council, he was polite and courteous" to all sides, regardless of their demeanor, Lyons said.
Yet Wallace also loved singing and enjoyed organizing things, said his daughter, Andrea Dean Wallace of Falls Church. Before he died, he finished all 1,000 pages of his memoirs. He also wrote his obituary, organized his funeral service, and gave lists to his daughter of whom to call and where the checkbooks were.
"My aunt asked if he took notes for 80 years," said Andrea Wallace.
Andrea Wallace also said he wasn't a shy man. In 1984, Andrea Wallace went with her parents and niece to Scotland. At a festival they attended, Wallace asked the master of ceremonies to make an announcement. He made the announcement in front of the crowd of 1,000.
"He got up there and said, this is the Fourth of July, and Kate Smith just died, so we're going to sing ‘God Bless America,’" his daughter recalled.
Wallace was born in Melbourne, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa and had a master's degree in history and mathematics. He served in the Navy for World War II and the Korean War, and he retired from the Navy Department in 1978 as a procurement and contracting officer.
Juanita Magana Wallace, his wife of 58 years, died in 1999. Their children are Tobi Wallace Whiteside of Vienna and Andrea Dean Wallace of Falls Church.
"I'll miss him every day because he ate dinner with me. We always had a cocktail every night and toasted Mother," Andrea Wallace said.