Supervisors punt on Confederate statue control

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors will not seek authority from the Virginia General Assembly in January to move or remove a statue of a Confederate soldier that stands in front of the county courthouse.

On Wednesday, the supervisors narrowly defeated a motion by Board Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) to request that the General Assembly amend state law to give the county discretion over the bronze statue, which was erected in 1908. Under state law, Virginia localities are not permitted to “disturb or interfere with” war memorials.

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The Washington Post, Sept. 22, 2017

Loudoun Museum is straightening out finances

One year after the Loudoun Museum faced the possibility of having to close because of the potential loss of county funding, museum officials say they have taken the necessary first steps to straighten out the organization’s finances.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors directed the museum’s trustees to make fundraising a top priority, officials said. So in May, the trustees hired Leslie Mazeska, who has a professional background in fundraising and grant-writing for nonprofit organizations, as the museum’s executive director.

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The Washington Post, July 30, 2017

Historical marker for Ashburn School

Less than nine months after vandals defaced the Ashburn Colored School by spray-painting it with racist graffiti, a Virginia historical marker has been installed near the front entrance of the gleaming white building.

The marker came about through the efforts of a group of seventh-grade students at Farmwell Station Middle School who selected it as a project for their social studies class in the fall. They cleared hurdles at local and state levels to obtain grant funding for the marker and win approval from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which installed the marker Monday.

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The Washington Post, June 11, 2017

Leesburg gardens on display

In 1817, Gen. George Rust bought a 485-acre tract along the Potomac River north of Leesburg and began building a Federal-style home there. The rock outcrops that studded the land inspired the property’s name: Rockland.

Two centuries and five generations later, Rust’s descendants still own and occupy Rockland. But maintaining old homes is costly, and the current occupants are searching for new ways to generate revenue from the property so they can continue to keep it in the family.

Rockland is one of six picturesque Leesburg-area properties that will be open to visitors Sunday and Monday during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. The Garden Club of Virginia uses proceeds from the event, now in its 84th year, to restore and preserve historic public gardens across the commonwealth.

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The Washington Post, April 23, 2017

Purcellville Library observes 60th anniversary of desegregation

In the early 1950s, Reggie Simms mended damaged books so they could remain in circulation at the Purcellville Library. But he was not allowed to check them out for personal use.

For two decades after it opened in 1937, the library was open only to white patrons. Simms and other African Americans were excluded until the library was desegregated on April 9, 1957.

On Saturday, the library will mark the 60th anniversary of that milestone with “Cross the Line,” a day-long program focusing on the desegregation of public facilities in Loudoun County. Simms will join other African Americans from that era in sharing memories of the cultural shifts in Loudoun as segregation died a slow death in the 1950s and ’60s.

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The Washington Post, April 2, 2017

Ceremony honors pilot who died in 1945 crash

Richard Ochoa, the last surviving brother of Capt. Fred Ochoa, is presented with an American flag honoring his brother.

On July 27, 1945, Marine Capt. Fred Ochoa, 26, set out from Patuxent River Naval Air Station on what was a test flight for a new twin-engine aircraft. He never returned. The weather was treacherous, and the plane crashed in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Bluemont. Among the items found with Ochoa’s body were a parachute and a rosary.

The prayer beads were a key link in a chain of events that culminated in a memorial ceremony and celebration of Ochoa’s life March 18, when 20 members of the Ochoa family gathered with a group of neighbors who live near the crash site. The reunion helped provide answers to questions that members of both groups had for decades.

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The Washington Post, March 26, 2017

Records document a century of segregation

Carolyn Nicholson and her grandson, Adonis Taylor, 10, of Ashburn, look at some of the records displayed at the open house.

An open house at the Loudoun County Courthouse on Feb. 11 highlighted the century of segregation in Virginia that followed the Civil War and the abolishing of slavery.

The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office displayed records that document the separate and unequal treatment of African Americans in the county during that time. Documents reveal how segregation pervaded all areas of life, including the education, public services and land transactions.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2017

1986 peace walkers reunite for Women’s March

From left: Thom Unger, KD Kidder, Karen Doherty and Don Cunning

In 1986, about 500 people marched across the United States for almost nine months, from Los Angeles to New York to Washington, in a demonstration against nuclear weapons. The trek became known as the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.

Last week, a dozen of those peace marchers reunited and laced up their walking shoes once again to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. For KD Kidder, 65, of Leesburg, it was an opportunity to rekindle old friendships and express her concerns about the political direction she thinks the country is taking.

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The Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2017

WW II Army doctor’s daughter publishes his letters

Author Laura Cantor Zelman autographs a copy of her book at Ashby Ponds.

Milton Cantor hoped to write a book someday based on the letters he sent home to his wife while he was serving as a U.S. Army doctor during World War II. The correspondence describes his wartime experiences in Britain, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia, as well as at several Army bases in the United States.

He never did get around to writing that book. After the war, he devoted himself to his medical practice and his family, which grew to include four daughters. He continued to practice medicine until his death at age 74.

This year, Cantor’s oldest daughter, Laura Cantor Zelman, fulfilled her father’s dream by writing and publishing “In My Father’s Words: The World War II Letters of an Army Doctor,” which draws from more than 500 letters he wrote to his wife, Rose, between 1941 and 1945.

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The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016