After years of resisting, Jim Deuel has decided to give in and say good-bye to the Herndon-Reston area.
"My company asked me to take an assignment in Chicago," said Deuel, general manager at the Hyatt Dulles. "It was time to say yes to the move — I have been holding off because I like it here."
Looking at the short time he lived and worked in the area, his impact on the community reflects how much he cared about the towns he lived and worked in, and why he didn't want to leave.
"His gift for leadership and his ability to relate to all sorts of people, are among some of his greatest gifts," said Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce.
Curtis said in his eight years, Deuel was instrumental in the development of Herndon's downtown plan as well as area tourism, while also being a champion of diversity for the community.
"He built fine relationships with the Town Council and the mayor," said Curtis, who worked closely with Deuel during his two-year term as chairman for the Chamber and his current term as vice president of economic development.
Deuel was also president of the Reston Rotary from 1999 to 2000, past director for the Northern Virginia division of the Virginia Hotel and Travel Association, Herndon Rotary Citizen of the year in 2004, a member of the Council for the Arts of Herndon, and was recognized earlier this year by the Boy Scouts Powhatan District.
ALTHOUGH THE LIST of his involvement goes on, Deuel said the highlights of his contributions to the community include his work as chairman for the Chamber and dealing with the concerns that arose over the rail to Dulles proposal.
"It's very easy to get involved, if you want to," said Deuel. "It's going to be tough leaving this community."
Because he was so involved with issues that are still pending, such as the Dulles rail project, Deuel said he plans to stay in contact with members of the community and is confident he will visit often.
"As of right now he says he's only an hour and half away," joked Mayor Michael O'Reilly, a business colleague and friend. "He's planning to be able to fly back ... I am certain we'll see him."
Although realistically, O'Reilly said, reflecting on how dedicated Deuel is to his current community, he wouldn't be surprised if after the first few months in Rosemont he visited less and less, mainly because his calendar would become so busy with local Illinois events.
"He was an asset to our community and instrumental in a number of things," said O'Reilly. "For a guy who neither lived in, nor had a business in our town limits, he was a champion for our community."
Deuel said his last day will be Friday, Sept. 3, and one week later will be reporting to work at the Rosemont Hyatt, near Chicago.
"I have lived there three times in the past," said Deuel. "I have family in the area, and I hear that the area is very nice. It's one of the newer properties and in a developing market."
FROM A BUSINESS point of view, Deuel said he is excited to see how successful the hotel can become in such a premier area, but he admitted he will still be curious about the events in Herndon.
"You can't be that involved and not keep a watchful eye," he said. "There are so many things in the works, this town is ready to blossom into the next evolution."
Deuel added there is "something special about a community the size of Herndon," saying he'll miss the vast connections and sense of community.
As far as what the community will remember Deuel for and what will be missed, O'Reilly and Curtis agree there are too many contributions to list, but said his humor is an attribute they can't forget.
"He always had a kind word and a good sense of humor," said O'Reilly. "There will be a bit of a hole there that I hope someone will step up and fill."
Reflecting on an awards ceremony where Deuel joined Jimmy Cirrito, owner of Jimmy's Old Town Tavern, behind the bar wearing a giant sombrero and playing bartender, Curtis said she'll remember Deuel for his ready smile and true Virginia gentleman nature.
"Jim just has the natural ability to play the clown at times," said Curtis. "He's always breaking a grin or telling a joke."