Pat Rodio remembers the days when he mowed the lawn at Keith Avenue Park in order to keep it fresh for Little League and Babe Ruth baseball players. He never thought that one day, the park would be named for him.
"It's great. It hasn't really sunk in yet," Rodio said.
City officials, neighbors, family members and friends honored Rodio's longtime civic and community engagement at a dedication ceremony to rename Keith Avenue Park to Pat Radio Park. More than 50 people attended Saturday's ceremony to celebrate Rodio and his contributions.
"There's no more beloved resident in this city," said city manager Bob Sisson.
Since moving to Fairfax from New Jersey in 1957, Rodio has been involved in both civic and community affairs. He served five terms on the City Council from 1984 to 1994 and never missed a vote. From Dec. 2001 to June 2002, Rodio also served out the council term of Del. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-37th), who had been elected to the Virginia General Assembly.
From 1976 to 1984, he was chairman of the city's Republican Party. He has also been a member of the Elks Lodge, Optimist Club, Knights of Columbus and St. Leo's Church.
BUT MANY Fairfax residents know him as their former baseball coach. Rodio was involved in Little League for a total 19 years, as a fan, grass cutter, coach, vice president and president.
"You couldn't play Babe Ruth without knowing who Pat Rodio is," said Mayor Robert Lederer during the ceremony.
Janice Miller, who knows Rodio through city council, Little League, and as a neighbor, agreed.
"He was happy to hit ground balls to infielders, give advice to coaches and encouragement to the players," Miller said.
Neighbors of Rodio had requested that the city rename Keith Avenue Park to honor Rodio not only because Rodio lived near the park, but because Rodio spent many years coaching Little League at that park.
"This is pretty much where we started in the 50s," said Jim Rodio, Pat Rodio's son.
Neighbors also said Rodio has been a good neighbor to them.
"He always cuts a rose for the ladies," said Debbie Bailey, who sees Rodio while he's working on his garden.
Miller summed up why many think Rodio deserves this honor.
"There are two things that stand out in my mind: his sense of humor and his story-telling ability," Miller said. "With these two traits, he manages to bring people together. The ability to get people working together along with his willingness to try new projects are reasons why people in the city are fond of Pat."
As for Rodio, the park dedication serves as icing on the cake.
"I was paid very well for my services. I was paid in a thousand memories," he said.