Lindy Hockenberry, for over half a century a loyal, passionate supporter of all things Falls Church, and especially its schools and kids, was lionized and hailed profusely at a special Cherry Hill Farmhouse reception and words of great love and respect delivered at Monday’s Falls Church Planning Commission meeting, with more such celebrations of her contributions still to come. Hockenberry’s roles have ranged from vice mayor to Council member, to Planning Commissioner to middle school teacher (maybe her favorite one, for well over 30 years here), and almost every single cause that has been undertaken to improve the City she clearly loves.
The funny thing is, Lindy isn’t going anywhere! Yes, Monday marked her final meeting as a Planning Commissioner, the role that has filled the last eight years of her life. She opted out of another four-year term out of health concerns six months ago, but her health has bounced back and now she’s just as feisty and streetwise as ever, keeping her eyes and ears open for new ways to insert herself into the City’s decision making process.
For many, they would have been quite content to be done after so many years as an effective and beloved middle school teacher in the Falls Church system. But not Lindy. As F.C. Council member Phil Duncan recounted Monday night, it was in 1999 that he sat with Lindy in the then-new Panera Bread cafe and discussed prospects for a potential run for public office. Ms. Hockenberry was all ears, and jumped into a campaign for City Council with great energy, getting elected in her first try.
It is safe to say that the last 20 years in Falls Church have been the most accomplished, progressive and beneficial to everyone here, without parallel. It was in September 2001 that the City’s first new mixed-use project in well over a decade was approved. The Broadway was done two years later, and by then the F.C. City Council, Hockenberry included, was well on its way to the planning and approving (including for some, rejecting) of plans for the transformation of the central commercially-zoned district of the City, and negotiating deals that have resulted by now in the construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art high school, just underway, after major improvements to Mt. Daniel Elementary, the City’s Municipal Building (just completed), and library (soon to commence) and more.
Over this 20 year period of Hockenberry’s active participation in the public life of the City, there has been a population explosion, a more and more visible commitment to diversity, major improvements to all the City schools’ facilities, commercial zones and residential neighborhoods. If there is one area wanting now, it would be in the area of affordable housing, but not for want for any of Hockenberry’s efforts on that account.
Fortunately, Ms. Hockenberry continues among us, and we must not overlook the benefit of all she still brings.