The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Assns. recently honored Centreville’s John Litzenberger Jr. as the 2021 Fairfax County Citizen of the Year. He was feted at the Federation’s 71st annual awards banquet at the Springfield Golf & Country Club, following postponement of this ceremony because of the pandemic.
The official program described him as someone who’s set “a fine example of participation in community activities in many, different areas. Over the past four decades, he has continued to contribute his time and experience to make the community a better place to live.”
First, though, Litzenberger served his country. A retired Air Force colonel, he was a pilot during the War in Vietnam, where he flew KC-135 tankers which refueled other aircraft in the air. Later transferring to the Air National Guard branch of the Air Force Reserves, he flew C-7 and C-130 transport aircraft and was called back to active duty seven times for various contingencies before retiring in 2002.
Litzenberger then took a civilian position with the FAA, specializing in airport operations and particularly on maintaining aviation safety at airports. Now retired from the federal government, he currently works as an aviation consultant in litigation matters.
He and his wife Barbara and their three children moved to the Virginia Run community in 1988, and John joined the Virginia Run Community Association. He served as its vice president from 1991-1993 and was also on its Board of Trustees. He became involved in the larger, Sully District community through his neighbor and good friend, Ron Koch.
“Ron was the Planning Commissioner for this area for many, many years and always listened to the citizens,” said Litzenberger. “We both got involved in many land-use issues in Centreville in the 1980s and ’90s.”
In addition, Litzenberger helped coach lacrosse for Chantilly Youth Association, Southwestern Youth Association, Centreville High and Westfield High. A coach from the early 1990s until 2008, he said, “Coaching kids and helping them make the right decisions growing up was most rewarding.”
He also took an active role in his church, Centreville United Methodist, when VDOT condemned the church’s site at the intersection of Route 28 and I-66 so it could expand that intersection. “That was a tough job, but we successfully relocated the church and built a new building a mile south of the current intersection,” said Litzenberber. “Our church also did a lot of community service through those years by providing food for needy families, starting up kids’ programs, and providing a facility for ESL classes and other community-centered missions. And it continues to help where needed.”
So has Litzenberger. He’s chaired CUMC’s Trustees, Long-Range Planning, Finance and Building committees, as well as its Caregivers Resource Group, providing support and resources to caregivers.
And when it comes to land use, his name has been well-known and respected in this county for decades. In 1980, he was one of the founders of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA), serving on its Land-Use Committee from 1983-1994, and leading as its president from 1986-1988.
Then, said Litzenberger, “In 2004, then Sully District Supervisor Mike Frey appointed me to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority as a commissioner, where we focused on affordable dwelling units and universal design for housing in Fairfax County.
“Mike then asked me to move over to the Planning Commission as the Sully District representative, and I served from 2008-2016. During my eight-year tenure there, we accomplished a lot in bringing additional park facilities and desired land-use and transportation improvements to the Sully District. Mike was great to work with; he always put the community first.”
After his stint on the Planning Commission, Litzenberger returned to the WFCCA and is currently co-chair of the Joint Land-Use Committee comprised of both the Sully District Council of Citizens Assns. and the WFCCA. Besides his latest honor from the Federation of Citizens Assns., he was feted as Celebrate Fairfax’s Sully District Volunteer of the Year in 2007 and was recognized as Sully District’s Lord Fairfax in 1987, again acknowledging his volunteer service.
“The honor by the Federation was totally unexpected,” he said. “The best part was seeing old friends at the ceremony and remembering all the good things we had done together. The total team effort provided by this dedicated group of community-centered volunteers is what made our efforts so rewarding. It was never one or two individuals, but a dedicated group that made good things happen.”
Litzenberger also noted that “The fact that current Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay stopped by to say thank you, coupled with a nice statement from Congressman Gerry Connolly, were both very much appreciated.”
As for area residents, Litzenberger advises them to “Please get involved in the community as a volunteer, on behalf of the greater good. The more volunteers we have, the better the community.”