1st Woman Elected to F.C. Council, Ardith Cronin, Dies at 90

Ardith Lakin (Lady) Cronin, the first woman elected to the Falls Church City Council and who spent more than three decades working as a public servant, died June 27, 2011 of breathing complications in the Hospice Center at Potomac Hospital. She was 90.

Ardith was born in Massachusetts, but soon moved to Houlton, Maine where she was raised under the watchful eye of her mother, Elizabeth Shaw Lakin. It was in this magical small town where she learned to be a great swing dancer, did extended work with the Camp Fire Girls, and attended Bates College. She met her husband, Walter, during WW2, and they moved to the Washington, D.C. area and settled in Falls Church City.

Starting in the early 1960’s, she began a ground-breaking career in Falls Church City politics becoming the first woman to be elected on the Falls Church City Council. This successful tenure was followed by a long standing association with the Regional Planning Commission. After being elected as the first woman chairman of this prestigious commission, she helped create a master plan for Falls Church City which has been a successful model for more than 30 years.

Known to most as “Lady” for her class and style, she spent her life making others feel as if they were one of her own. This unique ability to connect with people has created a large, world-wide extended family who considered her their mom as well.

In addition to her famous (and never ending) “to do” list, Lady enjoyed swimming, needlepoint, traveling, cooking, and watching after the world’s only perfect dog, Sasha.

Her extraordinary public accomplishments were often interrupted by her personal health problems. During the last 30 years of her life, Lady persevered through five strokes, cancer, pneumonia, breathing problems, and congestive heart failure.  She steadfastly kept abreast of current local events, baseball, and somehow managed to keep track of her huge family.

Lady is survived by her sons, Jefferson (Diane Isis Thurber) of Guam, Greg of Falls Church, and adopted son, Paul (Sally) Helfenstein of Switzerland.

She was preceded in death by her brother, John Ransford Lakin, and her beloved husband, Walter Francis.

The funeral will be Sunday, August 7, 2011. A gravesite service will be held at National Memorial Park Cemetery, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church at noon. This will be followed by lunch and a formal service at 3 p.m. in the Westminster Retirement Home Chapel in Lake Ridge, Va.