2024-05-24 6:19 PM

Memorial Day 2024 Issue!

De Long Honored As Grand Marshall For Years of Library Service

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board selected Chet De Long to serve as Grand Marshall of the City’s 40th annual Memorial Day Parade. DeLong has been a resident of Falls Church City since 1961 and provided extensive support for the Mary Riley Styles Public Library over the years.

Chet De Long (center) alongside Eric Albrect and Claudia Gutierrez, recipients of the De Long Award for Outstanding Service. (Courtesy Photo).

“Chet’s service to the library has made him a beloved figure in our community,” said the nomination submission. “Library staff all light up when Chet walks through the door. He is such a kind and lovely person, and his service to the library has been so long term, and so dedicated.”

De Long has served on the library’s Board of Trustees for over two decades. One of his biggest accomplishments includes spearheading the efforts to pass a library bond referendum, which helped to provide the finances needed for the renovation and expansion project for the library that began two years ago.

Additionally, he has volunteered at the library for over 26 years for up to 300 hours a year. This work includes intake, supporting CD and DVD sales and more.

“I retired from the Feds in 1993 and in April of 1994 I had some free time and was in the library often,” said De Long. “The then director asked me to volunteer so I started then and soon an opening became available on the Board when someone moved away and I filled that position in that October and liked it so I renewed… and renewed and renewed and renewed.”

He also championed the idea to create the Mary Riley Styles Public Library Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization, in 2004 where he also served as the Financial Officer and fundraiser. The Foundation works to add more materials to the library’s collections, maintain the local history online database, provide prizes for summer reading and much more. Their mission statement is “to enhance library materials, services, programs and equipment” and “increase our endowment, which will provide a future guaranteed stream of income for the library.”

“We started to talk about having some kind of outside organization to support the library. One of our members was a lawyer and after we talked about it long enough he took it into his hands and set it up as a volunteer organization and started it by making a nice donation to open the doors,” shared De Long.
In 2005, the Foundation began taking in money and has been going ever since. De Long sent letters to citizens about the organization and helped organize other fundraising events. Over the years, De Long stepped back a bit as his eyesight deteriorated but he has always stayed involved in some way, helping where he can.

In 2020, the library created the Chet De Long Award for Outstanding Service which “recognizes a library staff member or volunteer who has shown the qualities of dedication and public service that exemplify the civic life of Chet De Long.” Two awardees have been named so far, Eric Albrect and Claudia Gutierrez.
In 2010, De Long and other members of the library began making plans for a complete remodel, talking to Council members, speaking about the issue in local newspapers, hosting roundtable discussions and more to gather the support they needed.

“We got to a point where the planning commission approved a design after much public discussion and the Council went along with it so we got started,” said De Long. “We hired a contractor. After several setbacks, we landed on a design. Dan Ze was a great help in getting the support we needed.”
Chet will be fourth in the parade line up. The parade will begin at 2 p.m. on Monday.

If you’d like to support the Mary Riley Styles Public Library Foundation, you can find more information online at mrsplfoundation.org.





On Key

Stories that may interest you