Local Commentary

Editorial: Thank You, Howard Herman

Mark your calendars: Sunday, April 10 will be Howard E. Herman Day in the City of Falls Church. There will be a reception honoring Mr. Herman that afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. in the gym at the Falls Church Community Center, 223 Little Falls St.

We don’t normally use this editorial space for announcing details of events, but in this case, it is part of our tribute to Mr. Herman to do what we can to ensure that as many people in Falls Church as possible come out that day to pay their respects for the remarkable impact this man has had on many thousands of people over 40 years here.

It is veritably breathtaking when what Howard Herman has done in and for Falls Church since 1970 is added up. Charley O’Hara, the chair of the Rec and Parks Advisory Board began delineating a list when Herman was honored by the F.C. City Council Monday night, and it was very quickly overwhelming. They all involved Herman’s acting above and beyond the call to make countless events in the City work for their participants.

In fact, Herman has been such an ubiquitous presence in so many scenes of celebratory events in Falls Church over 40 years, his not only showing up, but setting up, them all have become part of very landscape of the City. It will be unusual when that tall dignified frame with its curly hair and well-groomed ‘stash is suddenly absent from all those situations: Memorial Day parades, July 4 fireworks, Fall Festivals, Halloween parties, holiday dances, youth sports programs, Easter egg hunts, senior center programs, Black History Month basketball games, and, of course, his presence every Saturday, year-around at the City’s nationally-acclaimed farmer’s market, and more.

Then there were all those nights sitting through Council and other City Hall meetings to explain and promote his programs and their needs, including for the renovation of the Community Center in the late 1990s.

He was also seen lighting it up on the court with his legendary three-point set shot at George Mason High alumni games. Herman was, after all, on a Mason basketball team that made it to the regional finals in his senior year.

Having made the decision to retire last November, today is Herman’s final day on the job. Appearing on a live televised segment of Falls Church News-Press Live this Monday, Herman talked about the “bittersweet,” mixed feelings as his final day approached, and was moved to tears when he was joined by his wife and two young children to be honored by the City Council that night, including by the Council setting in motion a process to name after him the four acre Hamlett-Rees open space flanking the Coe Branch tributary of Tripp’s Run between W. Broad St. and Jefferson Elementary.

Mr. Herman’s contribution to Falls Church, as Council member Robin Gardner eloquently put it, “was not a job, it was a life.”