Annette Mills, Dave Eckert Hailed, as They Leave, for Contributions to F.C.


Every town is a mirror of the people who live in it.

In Falls Church over the past two decades, that mirror has often reflected the unique vision of two community ultra-activists: Dave Eckert and Annette Mills.

But with their planned move to Oregon later this month, there is growing concern among Falls Church citizens that the mirror of community activism and volunteerism that the two ushered into the city when they moved here from California 18 years ago could crack — or even break.

"It’s unusual to lose your heart and soul at the same time," says Councilman David Snyder. "But that’s what the city is losing."

Perhaps more. Maybe the city also is losing its leading visionaries. A couple with a very simple world view that says: We can make this place better. "Every fiber of the community has been touched by them," says Barry Buschow, president of the Falls Church Village Preservation & Improvement Society. "They’ve united all facets of life in the city."

In the process, however, they’ve made life maddening for some city officials. Never mind that. Friday night, in their honor, a farewell party will be held at the Art & Frame of Falls Church (the former Miniatures in the Attic) at 111 Park Ave., at 7:30 p.m. The party, which is open to the public, is expected to upwards of 100 well-wishers. Little wonder.

Few couples in city’s history have so profoundly impacted the day-to-day lives of so many Falls Church residents. Eckert and Mills have left an enormous imprint on the water we drink, the trails we walk upon, the places we go to play and the trees that grow within the two mile city limits. By one estimate, the couple is personally responsible for upwards of 1,000 trees planted inside the city. And for assembling a corps of more than 300 volunteers citywide for an array of projects they’ve overseen.