Democratic Activist Remembered

Democratic Activist Remembered

Longtime Reston resident Ed T. Herlihy dies.

Longtime Reston resident Edward T. Herlihy died in his home over the weekend of Nov. 12 and 13. He was 63 years old.

The cause and time of death have not been determined.

Herlihy was born Jan. 28, 1942 in New Jersey. His parents died when he was young, and his aunt and uncle took him in and raised him.

In 1964, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in civil engineering. For many years, Herlihy worked for MCV, an engineering consulting firm in Annandale. He was about to start a new consultancy with MCV a few days after he died.

Around 1970, Herlihy moved to Reston, where became very active in the community. “He knew everyone, not just in Reston but in Northern Virginia, too,” said Stephen Cerny, a longtime friend. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

In 1999 on the 20-year anniversary of the Reston Community Center, Herlihy was honored as one of the 10 original Reston Community Center task force members of 1974, who “made this center a reality.” Herlihy often attended performances at Reston Community Center. “The last thing I did with him was see Ann Carols of National Public Radio at the Reston Community Center the Saturday night before the elections,” said Cerny.

“He was very trustworthy and loyal,” said Kathy Herlihy-Paoli, a cousin. “He had a big heart.”

She said Herlihy was a veteran who served in the Air Force and was stationed in the Far East for several years during her childhood. “When he’d come back, he brought us exotic toys,” said Herlihy-Paoli. “He was great with kids.”

IN 2003, Herlihy attended a cousins reunion in Montana. “He came out for that and we had a great time,” said Herlihy-Paoli.

An active member of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, Herlihy was drawn to politics early. “Watergate, especially the abuses of power he saw during that time, was the impetus for him to get involved in politics,” said Cerny. “But his basic M.O. was helping people.”

Cerny first met Herlihy when they both were working on Sen. Chuck Robb’s campaign in 1994. “Basically, Ed was a political mentor,” said Cerny. “His life was politics.” But not just any politics. John Lovaas, a friend of 15 years, said Herlihy was “the most dyed-in-the-wool Democrat; a true Yellow Dog Democrat.”

“He chose his financial advisor because he was a Democrat,” said Lovaas.

Herlihy began in local politics almost as soon as he came to Reston. “He worked behind the scenes on campaigns and for the party,” said Cerny, who attended a Democratic National Convention with Herlihy in 1996.

“Ed was a computer systems and election information systems guru among other things,” said Lovaas. “He was the ultimate political junkie.”

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Herlihy helped form the Dulles Area Democrats, who met Monday mornings for breakfast at Virginia Kitchen in Herndon. “I first met Ed through,” said David Pierpont, another founding member of the group. “I got to know him as a super-Democrat.”

Herlihy worked on numerous Democratic campaigns, the last being the successful campaign of David Poisson (D), who defeated veteran Del. Richard H. "Dick" Black (R-32). “Early on in my campaign, he invited me to come speak to the group [Dulles Area Democrats],” said Poisson. During the campaign, Poisson said it didn’t take long to realize Herlihy “bled blue.”

“His willingness to step up and be part of my campaign meant a great deal to me,” said Poisson. “I’m proud and pleased to have known him.”

Although partisan, Herlihy was known as a straight-shooter. “One thing I liked about Ed was whether you liked it or not, you knew where Ed stood on issues,” said Richard Chew.

Herlihy was also very involved in the Reston town issue and Lake Anne revitalization. “Ed was involved in several previous attempts to make Reston a town dating back to 1980,” said Cerny. Herlihy attended the most recent public meeting on township this month, again advocating that Reston become a town.

Herlihy also loved tennis. “One of the high points of his life was when he went to London to see Wimbledon,” said Cerny. And earlier this year, Herlihy went to Ireland to explore his ancestry.

Cerny said he considered Herlihy part of the family. “We were going to have him over for dinner on Thanksgiving.”

Herlihy is survived by no immediate family members. A memorial is planned for Dec. 10 at a location yet to be determined.