The warmth of this special holiday season (special because it is a recovery from a year of pandemic lack) combined with this year’s milestone of the 30th anniversary of the Falls Church News-Press’ unbroken weekly publication, has compelled the News-Press to use this occasion to publicly announce and salute its first ever Lifetime Honoree, long-time Falls Church resident, local realtor par excellence and generous community leader Merelyn Kaye.
Merelyn Kaye’s quiet contributions to the wider Falls Church community have been legendary, and that has included her role in the early success of the News-Press. She remains to this day the only local business person who has advertised in every single edition of the News-Press since Day One in the maiden edition of the paper that hit the streets on March 28, 1991.
It has been a win-win situation all along. She has made it known that the News-Press was a major contributor to her success as a realtor over the years, as she locked in a half-page ad on the back page of the paper beginning with that first edition and continuing non-stop until the Great Recession a decade ago caused her not to stop, but simply to downsize to a quarter page.
Those ads made Merelyn a local celebrity and quickly home sellers realized they had to jump on board her iconic ads to enjoy the maximum effect. Her loyalty to the News-Press persisted through the ups and downs of the market to the present day.
From Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where she graduated college, met and married her husband Art, she moved to Falls Church in 1965 and has lived here since. She got her real estate license in 1970, and when she was approached by a young and inexperienced ad salesman for the yet-to-be-published News-Press in early 1991, her instincts told her not to pass up the opportunity.
Her business exploded as a result. With David Howell of the larger realtor firm she aligned with negotiating annual contract renewals with the paper, and the unyielding support of husband Art until his passing in 2016, she supplemented her iconic back page ads with special spreads inside the paper for special projects.
In fact, it was her commitment to spend extra for full color in her ad that became the centerfold for the paper in 1993 that marked a turning point. The News-Press had never done color up to that point, but her decision to add it changed everything. The color in the center of the paper allowed color to also be used on the front page, according to how papers are printed, and so for the first time, the News-Press was adorned with a front-page news photo (not an earth-changing event, just kids diving into a local swimming pool). It suddenly made the paper look well-to-do, as from that day forward the constant refrain about whether the paper would survive suddenly disappeared from local discourse.
In more recent years she has shared her business with her daughter, Karin Morrison.
Merelyn Kaye’s long-standing relationship with the News-Press has always been about business, about a mutually-beneficial and respectful business relationship, which in the business world is as it should be. A mutual admiration society, perhaps.
But throughout her burgeoning success as the City’s Number One realtor, she has also been, as Charlie Moore and Keith Thurston of the Historic Falls Church’s board, attested, “a stalwart supporter of the Falls Church community fabric with her participation and quiet financial support of many organizations.”
They wrote, “Beside her long term commitment to the Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS), she was a significant financial supporter of the founding of the Victorian Society of Falls Church. She was also the key sponsor for the launch and operation of the New Year’s Eve Watch Night in Falls Church for over a decade, and without her support in its early years, “the annual celebration could not have occurred,” according to Thurston.
Working quietly and often behind the scenes, she has been on the board of directors of Historic Falls Church, Inc., since its founding in the 1970s and has been its president since 1995. The organization works to preserve historic properties in Falls Church, holding preservation and conservation easements on many of the large and visible historic homes in the City.
Architect Charles Moore said, “Merelyn is the consummate real estate professional working for the community’s good. She has always provided her expertise and her real estate services on a pro bono basis for preservation efforts.”
“It has been clear that she has been among a small group of influential community leaders quietly working to save the character of the City one house at a time,” Thurston added.
But it has been the consistent and ongoing (to the present day) role of Merelyn Kaye and the reputation she developed as the City’s foremost realtor achieved through her relationship with the News-Press that formed the basis for her many community achievements in her adopted hometown.
For this reason, we are truly moved to present her before the readership of the News-Press as our first ever choice for designation as a News-Press Lifetime Honoree.