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Community Volunteer Works at Giving

Members of any number of volunteer organizations have probably run into Edwin “Ed” Linek.

The 73-year-old Sterling resident volunteers at least three to four hours each week, belongs to about a dozen organizations and can be seen fixing up the grounds around the Veterans Memorial or weeding the center median along Sterling Boulevard.

“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, and he works at everything,” said Sterling resident James “Jim” Bradley, who has known Linek for more than 25 years. “He’s always busy. … Anytime you ever see him, he’s always doing something, always helping, always with an idea.”

Bradley and Linek belong to the Knights of Columbus, which Linek rejoined in 1981 after belonging to the club in 1963. Linek serves as president of the seniors group, which meets twice a month, belongs to the club’s Third and Fourth Degree groups and helps cater and wash dishes for weekend and other meals served in the club hall.

“The Brother Knight is the hardest working man in our council. He’s everywhere doing anything and everything he can,” according to a newsletter statement explaining why Linek was named Knight of the Month for December 2002.

“I keep doing it as long as I’m healthy,” Linek said. “As long as the health holds up and I can move, I’ll be there. Now that my wife is gone, I don’t use it as a crutch. I just ask God to give me more things to do. It looks like He’s doing it.”

LINEK’S COMMUNITY involvement did not stop with the Knights of Columbus as over the years, he joined other clubs and organizations. About 13 years ago, he helped organize a Toastmasters Club in Chantilly called Get the Edge.

“When I was working, I always was an introvert of sorts. Toastmasters got me over the fear of speaking,” Linek said. “It’s something I enjoy doing, talking, once I get going.”

Helping others is another enjoyment for Linek, he said. He joined the Sterling Ruritan Club about eight years ago and both Keep Loudoun Beautiful and the Lanesville Heritage Preservation Society Inc. three to four years ago.

With Keep Loudoun Beautiful, he helps remove trash from Ruritan Circle and nearby areas every April. That same month, he volunteers for Christmas in April to help paint and repair homes for those in need. He serves as president of the Lanesville Heritage Preservation Society, which is responsible for Vestal’s Gap Road and the Lanesville House and acts as an advisory group to Claude Moore Park staff.

Linek is a board member of the Sterling Foundation that, through the Adopt-a-Highway program, provides upkeep of Sterling Boulevard and supports the annual Sterling Fest event on Columbus Day weekend. The foundation raises the upkeep funds through membership dues and by recycling newspapers and Styrofoam dropped off at the county recycling facility.

“I go and periodically pick up trash. Last year, my goal was to completely weed the whole boulevard,” Linek said, adding that the foundation’s board members clean up the boulevard at least four times a year and pick up trash as they see it. “I look at it as something that has to be done. If I don’t do it, somebody else has to do it.”

LINEK, A MEMBER of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion, gardens, weeds and picks up debris in the area around the Veterans Memorial, which is located at Sterling Boulevard and Holly Avenue. Linek joined VFW Post 9478 and American Legion Post 150 in the early 1980s. For the VFW, he now serves as quartermaster and adjunct, taking care of the post’s financial and administrative matters. At the American Legion, he is the chaplain and a past commander.

“He does other quiet things. If people need help moving or anytime people need help, Ed is there doing it,” said Bradley, who served two years in the military and worked for the National Weather Service for 38 years, now retired from both. “If you need help, he’s there. If you need to get a ride someplace, he’s there. He’s perfectly wonderful. He’s somebody you always like to be with."

"I never see Ed Linek turn down a person in need," said James "Jim" Luttrell, a retired army veteran who lives in Sterling. "If there is anything in Sterling that needs to be done, Ed knows about it. ... He's always working to help the community and veterans and their families. He's just a good man."

In fall 2002, Linek got involved with LINK by helping the network of 16 churches pick up and deliver food for the needy. This he does at least once a week.

“He’s here whenever I need him for an emergency pickup or delivery,” said Roberta Bruckschen, Sterling resident and a LINK volunteer. “He’s very easy. You tell him what to do, and he’ll do it. … He’s a very generous, loving, giving person.”

Another way Linek gives is by dressing as a clown or as Santa Claus. In the late 1970s, he volunteered to be Mr. Pockets for a church carnival, so his late wife Alice Linek made him a clown costume. He volunteered as the carnival clown for another two to three years, then continued using the costume in parades, the Sterling Fest and events at Claude Moore Park. He calls himself Mr. K.C. for Kids Clown.

Linek has a red suit, too, for his role as Santa, something he did 15 times last year for the VFW, Knights of Columbus and Sterling Ruritan Club and at Falcon’s Landing and Claude Moore Park, among other places and events. His wife bought Linek the suit the year before she died in September 2000.

“My wife was preparing me for all of this,” Linek said.

Linek also belongs to the Loudoun Convention and Visitors Association, the Heritage Sites Consortium, the Loudoun Senior Center, St. Joseph’s Men’s Society in Herndon, the Fleet Reserve Association and a few other organizations.

“I don’t look for glories. I don’t look for write-up. I don’t look for stories,” Linek said. “I’d rather be nice and quiet and look where other people won’t tread.”

Linek said he does not like counting how many hours he volunteers each week. “If I think I put in too many, I might stop doing something, and if I don’t do enough, I might start doing more,” he said.

LINEK AND HIS WIFE had moved to Sterling in 1976. Linek was born Oct. 27, 1929 in Taunton, Mass., two days before the Stock Market crashed, and lost his parents to the Depression. His oldest brother took care of the 10-year-old boy and their sister, who was 12 at the time.

“Losing the beautiful house we had, losing [our] parents, people don’t know what the Depression was. I know what the Depression was,” Linek said.

In 1947, Linek joined the Navy as a radio operator. He served in the Korean War from July 1950 to August 1951, joining the reserves as a communications technician a year later. He became a warrant officer in 1967. After a total of 40 years of service, he retired as a chief warrant officer.

When Linek joined the reserves in 1952, he started working for Western Union Telegraph Company in Seattle, Wash. He retired from Western Union when the division was sold in 1986. He subsequently retired from GTE in 1993.

The Lineks raised four boys; the family includes four grandchildren.