Geraldine Sherwood was surrounded by dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening celebration of the Stacy C. Sherwood Center in February 2011.
Geraldine Estep Sherwood, a longtime city resident and avid supporter of the arts, died Aug. 5 in Fairfax, leaving a legacy as the visionary behind the Stacy C. Sherwood Center.
Mrs. Sherwood donated $5 million for the construction of the state-of-the-art facility. Opened in 2011, the center was named in honor of her husband, who served as a member of the Town of Fairfax Council (1956-60) and City of Fairfax City Council (1960-64) and who died in 2002.
Mrs. Sherwood served with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Fairfax Music Guild and Fairfax Choral Society, and the Arts Council of Fairfax County, among other organizations.
"Mrs. Sherwood was a wonderful and generous person. Her legacy to the arts, parks and recreation and the city will never be forgotten,” said Michael McCarty, the city’s parks and recreation director, who worked closely with Mrs. Sherwood during the construction of the center.
“The city will be forever grateful for her contribution of the Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center,” McCarty said. “Personally, I will miss my chats with Gerry, where she would tell the history and her involvement in shaping the arts in the City of Fairfax, or stories about Stacy and his golf buddies."
“Mrs. Sherwood was the supportive lady behind the power, and very gracious as a human being,” said Robert Lederer, former City of Fairfax Mayor. “She is the one who made the contribution to the city that made the community center possible. This was during major budget cuts in the city, and the center was not even on the drawing board when she made the contribution.”
When Mrs. Sherwood served as the honorary chair of the Spotlight on the Arts Festival in 2010, John Mason, a close family friend who served as the city’s mayor from 1990 to 2002, wrote movingly about her life and contributions to the city:
“Since early childhood music has been a part of Mrs. Sherwood’s life. As a child, when offered the gift of a large toy piano, she refused, saying that she wanted a real one! Subsequently, a real baby grand piano was purchased and lessons began at age 6 and continued into high school. As a youngster, she participated in singing in school and church. In college, she majored in music, with voice being of special interest.
When Mrs. Sherwood joined the faculty at Fairfax High School in 1947, Fairfax was a ‘village’ of about 1,000 residents. The surrounding area was farmland and ‘a waste land as far as music was concerned.’ Washington was not a large city. The National Symphony was a young organization. A season ticket could be purchased for $10. Washington newspapers had few advertisements of concerts. At Fairfax High School, she initiated a choral music program. Seven very enjoyable years followed as she grew a choral program. Following public school teaching, Mrs. Sherwood provided private lessons in piano and voice and directed junior and senior choirs in the old white frame Methodist Church on the corner of Page Street through its move to the new building on Stratford Avenue back in 2010. Mrs. Sherwood’s music-related activities in the community were numerous and significant.”
Private graveside services will be at a date yet to be determined. The family requests remembrances are in the form of donations to the Sherwood Legacy Fund/The Stacy C. Sherwood Center City of Fairfax Parks and Recreation.