The room overflowed with public officials, Fairfax County staff, activist Mount Vernon District citizens and friends. They were all there to say, "Thank you, Rose Lambert."
She returned that outpouring of admiration and affection in vintage Rose style. "It's so great to have all this and not have died," she declared as she came to the podium at the Mount Vernon Inn last Friday night.
That day marked the end of an era in Mount Vernon District as Rose Lambert, chief of staff to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald "Gerry" Hyland, retired after 16-plus years of service, not only to Hyland but also to the citizenry of Mount Vernon.
As Hyland said in opening the formal part of the farewell party, "She has left her mark on Mount Vernon. Rose, Mount Vernon will miss you and I will miss you. But rather than goodbye, it's better to say, as the French do, 'may it be soon.'"
Then he alerted her he had called Pasco County, Fla., her new home area, and had given her name, address and telephone number to the county officials there. "They know you're coming, Rose," he teased.
Among the many tributes, U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-11), former chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, presented Lambert with a resolution he and U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8) introduced in Congress honoring her service to the district. "Even as I have gone to Congress, Rose is the one I have called upon," Davis said.
Captain Ty Morrow, commander, Franconia/West Springfield Station, and Maj. Shawn Barrett, former commander Mount Vernon Station, Fairfax County Police, noted, "To the captains who have come through the stations, she was 'mom.' She was the glue that held everything together."
A MAJOR ELEMENT impacting Mount Vernon District politics and government is Fort Belvoir. Hyland's office deals with that on a daily basis. And that has involved Rose on a daily basis, as well.
In recognition of her "ability to bring all the parties together," Donald Carr, public information officer, Fort Belvoir, presented Lambert with a Commander's Coin from Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. T.W.Williams.
"This pin exemplifies everything it means to be an American," Carr said. "It is only given by a commander to those he considers a special person who deserves special recognition. And I have found you to be an absolutely open, honest point of contact."
Concluding the tributes, Hyland said, "For the past 16 years you [Rose] have been my right hand and my left. The citizens of Mount Vernon owe you a real debt of gratitude. I have been blessed to have you on my staff and the citizens have been blessed."
Hyland then presented Lambert with two handpainted oriental watercolor paintings that have hung in her office since they moved into their new offices at the Mount Vernon Government Center on Parkers Lane. However, as he made the presentation Hyland noted that the only wrapping paper they could find was Christmas paper. "So just ignore the candy canes," he implored.
LAMBERT THANKED all those she had worked with over the years with particular praise for the Board of Supervisors, County staff and County Executive Anthony Griffin, who was also in attendance.
Lambert held up a handful of pink cards with her new address and phone number and urged everyone to take one so they can visit her if in Florida. "If I hear you have been in the Tampa area and did not call or stop by I'm going to be very upset," she chided.
Lambert is moving to New Port Richey, on Florida's west coast, close to her daughter, Deborah. When asked previously if she intended to get involved in civic activities, her answer was, "I'm going to play."