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Citizens Group Honors Four of Its Own

Former rivalries fade

A crowded hotel ballroom overflowed with the warmth of open admiration Friday as the McLean Citizens Association (MCA) honored four of its own for their contributions to the community.

Past partisan political ties and gently simmering feuds vaporized in an evening of appreciation when none of those present seemed to recall even their most recent rivalries.

John Foust, who once ran for the Democratic nomination for candidate Vince Callahan’s seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, presented an elegant glass award to his political foe, now chair of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. Callahan received the MCA’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

Jan Periello, who served on a task force that initially resisted Adele Lebowitz’s determined dream to establish a carousel for disabled children on her property at Clemyjontri Park, congratulated Lebowitz, named the MCA’s Citizen of the Year.

LIKE THE CARTOON character and persistent place-kicker who never overcame Lucy Van Pelt’s predilection to snatch away the football every time she offered to hold it, McLean’s Charlie Brown demonstrated the same relentless determination that overcame the truculence of three separate bureaucracies and saved “millions and millions” of dollars by introducing them to value engineering.

Along with savings that continue to accrue, Brown got the MCA’s Special Recognition Award.

And Clive DuVal 2d, who served six years as a Virginia delegate and another 20 years as a senator, was posthumously named the first recipient of a new award named for him: the DuVal Environmental Protection Award.

MCA president John Foust said DuVal knew about the award before he died at Salona, his historic home in McLean, on Feb. 25.

ADELE LEBOWITZ, who gave her home and its 18.5-acre grounds to Fairfax County as Clemyjontri Park, was named the McLean Citizens Association Citizen of the Year for 2001.

Lebowitz was described as a woman who gave full attention to her four children, then studied to become a psychologist after they were grown.

Her husband, Mortimer, owned a chain of department stores that were among the first to welcome African-Americans as customers before they were forced to by law, recalled MCA president John Foust.

The night before, after a public hearing, the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the Lebowitz property to transition from private to public use.

Dranesville supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn (R) called it “unbelievable” that someone would donate 18 acres of land in McLean as a park.

“We can’t recognize her enough,” he said.

As a condition of Lebowitz's gift, the park was named Clemyjontri in mnemonic shorthand for the first names of her children: Carolyn, Emily, John and Petrina.

It will include the carousel and a playground, both accessible by disabled children and adults, and a horticultural area for walks and picnics. Lebowitz has life tenancy of her house.

In a later phase, it will be adapted for use as a setting for weddings, meetings and other events. To preserve neighborhood tranquillity, the park plan limits music to not more than five acoustic instruments such as strings and woodwinds.

VINCE CALLAHAN, honored for public service less than a week after the Virginia General Assembly was summarily dismissed in a show of power by a fellow Republican, has served continuously as the delegate from McLean since 1968.

Although some critics criticized Northern Virginia Republicans for their fractured representation in a year when a bill for a sales tax referendum was expected to pass, Callahan defended his colleagues for sticking to their campaign promises.

He did the same, he said.

Callahan, married to Dot and the parent of five children, has lived in east McLean since 1960. He is an editor and publisher.

LIKE THE “ROUND-HEADED KID” by the same name in the Charles Schultz comic strip, the personal style of Charlie Brown of McLean is defined by pragmatic determination.

It took years and years for him to convince first the state of Virginia, then Fairfax County Public Schools, and ultimately the county government, to commit capital construction projects to an independent, outside engineering review in a search for economy that has saved “millions and millions” of dollars.

Like many others, Del. Jim Scott (D-53rd) said he’d never heard of value engineering before he met Brown. He was among those who learned about it, and he became a passionate supporter for the value it brings to government, he said.

Brown explained how patience eventually brought him success in getting value engineering accepted by two large bureaucracies, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fairfax County.

“The political person is a reasonable, rational person subject to all the pressures we all are. They can’t do everything people ask them to do.

“You have to be patient, and show them why, and how. You have to get in tune with them,” Brown said.

“But you can’t be so persistent that you become a nuisance. You have to know ‘when,’” he said.