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F.C.’s Edna Frady Honored as 29th Parade Grand Marshal

EdnaMainWhen Edna Frady moved out of the City of Falls Church last November after 62 years in the community, she called the outpour of kind farewells – and City Hall’s official proclamation of “Edna Frady Day” last Dec. 14 – “overwhelming” in a News-Press Letter to the Editor. Little did Frady know less than six months later she’d be honored again for all to see – serving as the 29th parade grand marshal at Monday’s annual F.C. Memorial Day parade and celebration.

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EDNA FRADY is set to serve as the 29th grand marshal in the F.C. Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off at 2 p.m. on May 31. (Photo: Vicki Coe, News-Press)

When Edna Frady moved out of the City of Falls Church last November after 62 years in the community, she called the outpour of kind farewells – and City Hall’s official proclamation of “Edna Frady Day” last Dec. 14 – “overwhelming” in a News-Press Letter to the Editor. Little did Frady know less than six months later she’d be honored again for all to see – serving as the 29th parade grand marshal at Monday’s annual F.C. Memorial Day parade and celebration.

Frady relocated to Goodwin House in Bailey’s Crossroads last November when she “was trying to keep everything under control,” she told the News-Press. But Frady admittedly became emotional when thrown a reception at last December’s City Hall meeting.

“I was going on to the next step of my life and then they pulled this thing on me and it brought back the fact that I was leaving a lot. It got to me,” she said.

The 2000 winner of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Pillar of the Community Award has lent decades of service to the community as a member of the Woman’s Club of Falls Church, Village Preservation and Improvement Society, Citizens for a Better City and the Falls Church City Democratic Committee (FCCDC). Frady’s work on the FCCDC led to service on the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee and the State Central Democratic Committee. She was also the 1997 winner of the Mattie Gundry Award.

Still, Frady remained humble when asked what her legacy in F.C. would be.

“I can’t say I’m known for anything,” she said.

But F.C. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sally Cole disagreed, calling Frady one the most “extraordinary people I’ve ever met.”

“As an individual member of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, Edna is one of our most supportive and active volunteers. She has been a tremendous help to us with events, almost always the first to offer help and her help is priceless,” beamed Cole, adding that it will be an honor for Frady to serve as this year’s grand marshal, but it is “an even greater honor for our community to have benefited from her efforts over the years.”

F.C. Mayor Robin Gardner, who’s been friends with Frady for years, called her the “epitome of volunteerism in this community.”

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FRADY at age 4. (Courtesy Photo)

“Throughout Virginia, when I tell people I am from Falls Church, they always ask if I know Edna and, of course, I am proud to tell them I do,” said Gardner.

Born in Canada on March 13, 1932, Frady’s family moved in Buffalo, N.Y. when she less than a year old, followed by time spent living Kenmore and Medina, N.Y. It wasn’t until 1947 when she moved to Falls Church, graduating from Falls Church High School in 1950. She said the ceremonies were held at the State Theater on North Washington Street since the high school did not have an auditorium at the time.

Growing up, Frady “watched the town of Falls Church become the City of Falls Church,” all while her father, Donald S. Frady, served as the city’s longtime Director of Public Works.

Longtime friend of Frady’s Mike Diener of Diener & Associates, said, “With all the urban development that Falls Church has gone through, Edna is the reason that we haven’t lost the charm and soul of our small town roots.”

“When I arrived, it was just beginning for Falls Church, just a little town. So, for me, I’d come from a little town in New York to a little town in Virginia,” she said, calling the current Falls Church, by contrast, as a “metropolis.”

“I know a lot of people don’t want to agree with that, but, although it’s only 2.2 miles, it’s still is a city.”

From Falls Church High, Frady moved on to study at Madison College, now James Madison University, where she completed its two-year secretarial and business  program before receiving her business degree in June 1954. The day before graduating, the college president called to ask if Frady had a job because a friend of his was looking for a secretary.

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FRADY at age 11. (Courtesy Photo)

Frady was interviewed for the position one day after graduation and was working by the next day for the National Commission on Teacher Education and Professional Standards, a department of the National Education Association (NEA) where she worked for nearly 34 years. Frady said there, she eventually ended up in the Commission’s executive office, where she handled the “care and feeding’ of a 140-member Board of Directors and a nine-member executive committee.

“Shortly after starting at the NEA, I began setting up meetings and I’m still setting up meetings till this day. That’s one of my fortes, like it or not; I know how to set up a meeting, that’s for sure,” said Frady.

Saying she’d be most remembered for her work on FCCDC, she urged sitting government leaders and those to come to “always have open communication,” going on to praise the work of F.C. Director of Communications Barbarba Gordon.

“I’d tell city officials to keep up the good work. You’re doing some good things. You’re getting yelled at for a lot of it by people that don’t like it, but you’ve got to look at the overall picture and I think that’s what they’re doing,” Frady said, going on to warn against micromanaging.

“You can’t micromanage, which a lot of people around the city think they should be able to do, but it doesn’t work. I’ve never see it work in all the years I’ve been here.”

For all those who miss Frady’s physical presence in the city, she assured the News-Press she’s still in town often, but “just not in the same way as before.”

Frady was in Falls Church this Monday for a Woman’s Club Board of Directors meeting.

“I still care, but you can’t let it be the biggest part of your life like it was before,” said Frady. “Other people are here and it’s now in their hands.”

Catch Frady Monday, May 31 in the 29th Annual City of Falls Church Memorial Day parade, kicking off at 2 p.m.