Ed Strait, 88, a highly respected and effective civic activist in the City of Falls Church since moving here in 1958, died after a brief illness on Monday. He had been residing at the Goodwin House in Bailey’s Crossroads for the last four years but remained involved in community activities up to recent days.
Leaders of the Falls Church community, upon hearing the news that first broke late Monday night, have reeled from the news, and have just begun expressions of their appreciation for what Strait contributed over so many years. His long-time friend and collaborator in Falls Church civic activism Edna Frady reported the news of Strait’s passing Monday night.
Strait served on the City Council in the l980s, and held every leadership position in the Citizens for a Better City (CBC), the civic organization that vetted and backed quality candidates for public office in the City. As recently as Nov. 11, Strait participated in a Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial that he played a major role in establishing in the 1990s.
An avid Yankee fan, Strait was active on the Historical Commission and the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, and was the first ever recipient in 2001 of the CBC’s valued Jane and Wayne Dexter Award for Meritorious Community Service.
Upon receipt of that award, he recalled the essay he wrote applying to Columbia University as a youth about the Athenian Creed. Successful in getting him into Columbia, the 250-word essay touted the creed’s commitment to “leave society in better shape than one found it.”
In 2007, Strait wrote in the CBC’s Beacon newsletter, “When I moved to Falls Church in 1958, Falls Church became my Athens. And it still is.”
What he said in 2001 upon receiving the Dexter Award was, according to past CBC President Jody Acosta writing on line yesterday, “the epitome of who Ed was, and a goal for us all to try to achieve.”
Falls Church City Councilman Phil Duncan, a long-time CBC activist working with Strait for many years, wrote yesterday, “Much of what today’s Falls Church residents enjoy about our community we owe to the vision and determination of Ed and his Greatest Generation peers, who took a sleepy little Virginia village and transformed it into a full-service city with a high-quality public school system, a social services safety net for the less fortunate, and an expectation that government will be honest, transparent and citizen-centered.”
He added, “What a man he was. No one worked harder and longer to make Falls Church progressive and prosperous. I will so miss getting his ‘Yo!’ e-mails, usually sent in the wee hours, and always containing the wisest counsel on politics and government. Ed reminded us that we all have a duty to leave our community better than we found it. That he surely did.”
Current CBC president Sally Ekfelt sent an e-mail to CBC members and friends yesterday to report the news of Strait’s death, calling him “literally the patron saint and the guiding light of our organization.”
Falls Church resident-businessman Matt Smith wrote, “He was one of the good…great ones. We owe him so much here in our little city. He will be greatly misseed but his vision and passion for what we all share will live on.”
Barbara Cram offered, “Ed was and will always be a special presence in our Little City, revered, respected because of his vision and relentless pursuit to improve our community. What an honor to have known him.”
Members of Strait’s family were reportedly headed to Falls Church Tuesday. As of press time, no report of plans for memorial events had been received.