Edna Nina Frady, a longtime City of Falls Church resident and community activist, died peacefully last week at the age of 90 at the Goodwin House in Falls Church where she had resided for more than a decade.
Edna Frady! Her name was synonymous with Falls Church for decades among the biggest of political leaders in Virginia. Among her fellow Democratic Party loyalists, from governors on down, she earned and retained her unofficial title as “Boss Frady.” She was occasionally gruff on the outside, based on a passionate determination to get results as a political leader, but everyone knew her really to be a sweet and caring soul with a great sense of humor.
Visitation will be held at the Murphy Funeral Home in Falls Church, 1102 W. Broad St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, followed by Interment at 2 p.m. at the National Memorial Park, 7482 Lee Highway.
When U.S. Senator Mark Warner showed up to deliver remarks at the Goodwin House three years ago, from the moment he arrived he sought out “Boss Frady” to greet and have his picture taken with her. This writer was there for that touching occasion.
Her strongest years in Falls Church as head of the City’s Democratic Committee not coincidentally coincided with the period when Virginia shifted from a Red to a predominantly Blue state, with Northern Virginia centered around Falls Church leading the charge. It began with Warner’s election as governor in 2000 and continued through the two elections of Barack Obama as president of the U.S.
Another leader in the midst of that pivotal era is Falls Church’s current U.S. Congressman, Donald S. Beyer Jr. This week, Beyer wrote of Edna Frady the following:
“Edna Frady was one of the most charismatic, indefatigable and demanding friends I have ever had. I got to know her through her father, Donald, who managed public works in Falls Church for two generations. Edna had many interests, but her commitment to electoral politics was paramount.
“She was omnipresent, tireless, and earned her moniker ‘Boss Frady’ honestly. I loved Edna, and suspect I will never know another quite like her.”
She tallied up a lot of awards and recognitions for her work in Falls Church, but they were based on two notions: that she sought to do the most she could to effect positive change in her hometown and its environs, and that everyone simply wanted to heap every honor and award on her out of sheer heartfelt appreciation.
She had to negotiate between all her achievements and the care and feeding of her two corgis who shared her townhouse on Tollgate Road.
She was a true Falls Church original, moving to the City as a teenager in the late 1940s with her father, the legendary Don Frady, who came as Falls Church achieved its independent city status (next year being its 75th anniversary year) to head its all-important Public Works department, where he exercised enormous power to get things, like the construction of City Hall and the Community Center, done, kickstarting the City in the right direction for decades toward its current world class status. Frady Park on East Broad in Falls Church is named for him. Some of his last days were the first days of the News-Press in the early 1990s.
Here are some of the achievements by and recognitions of Edna Frady as they are summarized on the website for the annual Falls Church Women’s Walk, held during Women’s History Month in March:
“She was a member of the Women’s Club of Falls Church, the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, Citizens for a Better City and the Falls Church Democratic Committee [which she chaired for many years–ed].
She served on the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee and the State Central Democratic Committee, bringing visibility and renown to Falls Church.
She received the 1997 Mattie Gundry Award for outstanding women in the Falls Church community from the Falls Church Commission on Women.
She was named 2000 winner of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Pillar of the Community Award.
She was a longtime employee of the National Education Association.”
She was honored as the Grand Marshal of the annual Falls Church Memorial Day Parade in 2010 and the City Council had proclaimed Dec. 14 as “Edna Frady Day” prior to that.
In a feature article in the News-Press about her being Grand Marshal of the parade in 2010, Natalie Bedell quoted long-time Chamber of Commerce executive director Sally Cole who recounted that “as an individual member of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, Edna is one of our most supportive and active volunteers. She has been a tremendous help to us with events, almost always the first to offer help and her help is priceless.”
A longtime friend of Frady, Mike Diener of Diener and Associates said at the time, “With all the urban development that Falls Church has gone through, Edna is the reason that we haven’t lost the charm and soul or our small town roots.”
Frady said in a 2010 interview with the News-Press, “When I arrived (in 1947), it was just beginning for Falls Church, just a little town. So, for me, I’d come from a little town in New York (born in 1932 in Toronto, Canada, she moved to upstate New York in less than a year–ed.) to a little town in Virginia. She called the current Falls Church, by contrast, a “metropolis.”
She became a U.S. citizen at age 21. She graduated from Falls Church High School and Madison College (James Madison University) in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She began her career at the National Education Association as an Administrative Assistant and progressed up to Management in the Governance and Policy Department in the Executive Office working with the state education presidents and executive directors. She retired in 1988 after 34 years and then served as the president of the National Education Association Retirees Organization.
She was a member of the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church in Arlington, where she served on the Congregation Council, Chair of Morning Circle, and an Assistant Financial Secretary. In her later years, she enjoyed spending time with her “family,” Scott and Rachel Clark and their children Nicole, Holly and Bradley Clark of Centreville, Virginia.