For more than a week now, Michael Guthrie has been telling people the bittersweet news. He’s leaving Reston and moving to Charlottesville to become the CEO of Roy Wheeler Realty.
Many people in Reston may recognize Guthrie from years of television commercials for Long & Foster in Reston, the office he managed for 11 years.
But for those who knew him well, Guthrie was more than a real estate professional.
"Michael has been an institution in Reston," said Boofie O’Gorman, who hosted a going-away party for Guthrie at her Reston home. O’Gorman, who is a real estate agent with the Long & Foster office Guthrie managed, said Guthrie will be missed most because of his commitment to the community.
The gathering was one of several the past week honoring Guthrie’s impact on Reston. Last week, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce also had a going-away reception for him.
"He’s going to be missed by a lot of people," said Mary Eckert, who has worked for Guthrie for about 15 years.
GUTHRIE, WITH HIS WIFE DOTTIE, moved to Reston in 1983 from Charlottesville. When Guthrie arrived in Reston he began working in real estate, a profession he continued throughout his time here. "The reason I’m in this business is because you have a chance to positively impact people’s lives," said Guthrie. "One of the most important things people need is a roof over their head, and helping people find a home is what I’ve always loved about this business."
Guthrie has found success at Long & Foster. Many at the office credit Guthrie for the growth at the branch, which has nearly tripled in agents the last five years.
"Michael has been a wonderful force in our office for 11 years," said O’Gorman.
Others in the office said Guthrie helped foster success over the years. "He’s treated me like a queen," said Maguerite Nafey, a receptionist at the office. "That’s how he is with everyone."
WHILE MANY IN the office are sad to see Guthrie leave, they say the entire community will miss him, too.
"He loved Reston," said Carol Welsh, adding that Guthrie was very active in trying to better the community.
For the past five years, Guthrie served on the board of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, where he became active in the organization’s annual ethics day. He was also active in raising money for Reston Interfaith, helping several times to organize a golf tournament to benefit the Embry Rucker Shelter.
Guthrie’s three children — John Michael, 24, Katie, 22, and Becca, 19 — all spent time in Reston schools. Helping the area’s schools was also a priority for Guthrie. Throughout the years, Guthrie played a leadership role with the Northern Virginia Fellowship of Christian Athletes and through that affiliation he often spent time talking to athletes at South Lakes High School, where both John Michael and Katie graduated.
Barbara Aaron, a Reston Association board member who has known Guthrie for several years, said that he has been a driving force for many of the charitable events and groups that define Reston. "He really believes in giving back to the community," said Aaron. "So I’m sure he’ll be a great asset to Charlottesville, too."
Guthrie said it has been tough leaving Reston and that the community will always be dear to his heart.
"This is where we’ve raised our children," said Dottie Guthrie. "Primarily, the people we love are here."
At the party at O’Gorman’s house last Monday night, Joe Ritchey, another active Reston resident, was getting ready to leave, but wanted to say good-bye one last time. After talking to Guthrie for a few moments he said, "Thanks Michael — on behalf of many people, thanks."