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Longtime F.C. Resident & Historian Ross Netherton Dies

netherton-photoLongtime Falls Church City resident and civic activist Ross DeWitt Netherton, 91, died peacefully in his Arlington home early Friday morning, April 30, 2010.

Longtime Falls Church City resident and civic activist Ross DeWitt Netherton, 91, died peacefully in his Arlington home early Friday morning, April 30, 2010.

netherton-photo

Ross Netherton.

Netherton was well-known in the last two decades in Falls Church for his accomplishments in military history and histories of the Northern Virginia region, serving as an honorary life member of the Falls Church Historical Commission and with the Village Preservation and Improvement Society. His wife, Nan Netherton, was also a visible force in Falls Church who preceded him in death.

A World War II veteran for four years, followed by 27 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as a colonel in 1973, Netherton was the principle organizer in Falls Church of semi-monthly Military History Forums at the Community Center.

Netherton was born in Chicago, to parents Ross Dewitt Netherton and Orra Faxon Netherton. Growing up, he attended the University of Chicago’s Lab School. He attended the Univ. of Chicago, earning degrees in history, political science and a JD; Univ. of Michigan and SJD from Univ. of Wisc, both for law degrees. He taught law at Chicago-Kent College of Law and American University’s Washington School of Law (Professorial Lecturer 1950-1959).

In World War II, Netherton served four years of active duty, part of his time spent in the China, Burma, and India theater, (931st Signal Battalion). He was an active member in the Burma Star Association, organizing the First American Branch in 2000.

Dr. Netherton was retired from a career of conducting and administering research and writing programs in academic, governmental, private sector, and consultative organizations. His main fields of expertise had been in transportation and land-use planning law, environmental law, historic preservation, and local history.

He has published, lectured, and consulted in a professional career of more than 40 years. He has designed and managed scholarly and applied research and writing programs for national organizations, the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Transportation, the National Research Council, The American Bar Association, and Congressional study commissions; and he has served as an advisor for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

In Northern Virginia, he and his wife co-edited the first Fairfax County Directory: A Civic-Government Handbook in 1957. Later, they co-authored histories of Arlington County and Fairfax County.

Netherton, individually wrote monographs published by the Fairfax County Planning Department on the Fairfax Courthouse, the Colvin Run Mill, and Green Spring Farm.

Most recently he has co-authored a regional history of Virginia between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers titled In The Path of History. In addition to being an honorary life member of the Falls Church Historical Commission, he was a member of the Northern Virginia Association of Historians, and he had received awards and professional recognition for his research and writings and lifetime contributions to the preservation of history.

He is survived by his sons, David Netherton (Concord, Ma.), and Richard Netherton (Falls Church), and daughter, Nancy Netherton Stelling (Richmond, Va.), five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for early next month.

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