Local Commentary

Falls Church Mourns Barbara Cram

Barb Cram was the genuine article. This joyful and tireless Falls Church civic activist and volunteer passed away this Tuesday morning, June 2, surrounded by her loving family in her iconic Falls Church home at age 73.A complete biography of this extraordinary person (1947-2020) will be published in next week’s News-Press as the family has faced the difficult and emotionally charged task of completing it for publication. It will be posted on the News-Press website as soon as it is forwarded to us.

It can now be affirmed that the sudden outpouring of public praise for Barbara Cram surrounding the declaration of an official proclamation from the Falls Church City Council, reported and published in full in last week’s edition, came with the awareness that she was in last days of a years-long struggle against a fatal chronic illness.

Many have been shocked to learn that she was in her 70s, because her energy and enthusiasm suggested someone half her actual age. Her relentless good cheer, a huge smile and ready robust laugh, were reliably attending every one of the many, many public events she attended and almost always also had a hand in organizing and executing, and cleaning up afterward.

Officially, she won the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s “Pillar of the Community” award, the Village Preservation and Improvement Society’s ”Spirit of Falls Church” award, and last Thursday, May 28, was declared Barbara Cram Day in the City of Falls Church, something that we hope will be remembered every year with something to refresh this community’s awareness of and appreciation for this unusually remarkable human being.

She was a pioneering participant of the Falls Church Public Private Partnership (the early 1990s first effort that led to the City’s economic revitalization which kicked off in the early 2000s and has continued to this day). She spearheaded the extensive events surrounding the City’s 1999 Tricentennial celebration. She undertook the beautification of downtown Falls Church by personally funding the hanging flower pots that she could often be seen on a ladder refreshing and tending to by herself.

She was the organizing founder of the Little City CATCH Foundation, a coalition of groups advancing the cause of the arts and humanities in the City, and associated with that she pioneered the Falls Church Arts with its regionally popular gallery now on Broad Street, and perhaps her biggest achievement was perpetuating and growing the annual New Year’s Eve Watch Night celebration in the City’s downtown. And more, and more.

She was universally loved by persons in all quarters of the community’s arrayed social and political distinctions.

In our 30 years here, we knew her very well from when she ran her classy Greenscape gift store where Clare and Don’s Beach Shack now sits. She was relentless and sincere, no hidden agendas or ulterior motives, only a genuine commitment to the people of this community and its institutions.