Long-time community activist and volunteer Mildred Fleming Councilor died Aug. 28. She was 96. She was known for her work at the Nancy Flemming Dress Shop, the nursery that she ran out of her Lee Street house in the 1930s and 1940s and her many volunteer commitments.
"She was a very active community activist with an eye for beautiful flower arrangements," said former city manager Vola Lawson. "She used to make magnificent flower arrangements and donate them to the city for special events."
She was a charter member of the National Capital Garden Club League and member of the Beverley Hills Garden Club. Her work with the city extended into many areas, including YWCA, the PTA Council, the Girl Scouts, the Little Theater and the Alexandria City Republican Committee.
"She was a strong-willed woman, and she had no difficulty giving her opinion," said state Sen. Patsy Ticer. "What I remember most about Mil was that she was a hard worker."
<b>A NATIVE OF</b> Winston-Salem, N.C., Councilor majored in history at Salem College. She did graduate studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Boston College and George Washington University. At a dance at Durham, N.C., she met a student at Duke University whom she would later marry.
"My father evidently cut in," said Joan Renner, one of her daughters. "She said, 'I don't know you.' He said, 'You do now.' And that's how they met."
They married and moved to Alexandria in 1931. She started operating a child-care center in their home in the 100 block of South Lee Street.
"She potty-trained half of Alexandria," Renner said.
During World War II, she helped set up day-care centers for working mothers in Alexandria. From 1950 to 1965, she was a volunteer tour guide at the United States Capitol. In the 1950s, while she was away on a trip to Europe, her husband bought a house on Stonewall Road. She was surprised to find out that the family was moving, but happy to move into such a nice house.
"She had a wonderful house, and we could always count on Mildred to host wonderful events for candidates," said Connie Ring, former chairman of the Alexandria City Republican Committee. "This was a period when the city was experiencing a political renaissance, and she brought vitality to the two-party system in Alexandria."
<b>AN ACTIVE REPUBLICAN</b> for many years, she served twice as the chairman of the Alexandria City Republican Committee in the 1960s running two unsuccessful campaigns for City Council and the House of Delegates. Ring said that Councilor fought against the Byrd machine, the poll tax and "blank-paper registration," a tool used to prevent blacks from registering to vote.
"She provided an opportunity for people to participate in a meaningful way in the political process," Ring said. "She was an extraordinary person, and she had a rich variety of talents."
Councilor was crucial in the movement to create a museum of Alexandria history at the Lyceum. By the early 1970s, the building had been worn down and was in danger. She worked with the Alexandria Association to save the building and create the museum that's now housed there.
In 1986, she retired to Chapel Hill, returning to Alexandria in 1995. She was a member of Christ Church.
"She was a wonderful mother, and she couldn't have been a more giving person," said Susan Jocelyn, her daughter. "She was a very energetic person, and she was always on the go."
Harry "Chalky" Councilor, her husband of 64 years, died in 1995. She is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.