Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent-Emeritus Dr. Warren Joseph Pace passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 92 last Sunday, Oct. 18. Dr. Pace served as the superintendent of the F.C. City Schools from 1971 to 1991, a key two-decade period when, under his leadership, the F.C. system became the first in the U.S. to incorporate the International Baccalaureate curriculum and first gained fame as, by some measures, the finest in the nation.
He was, in the words of former FCCPS Superintendent Dr. Stuart Roberson, characterized by a “genuine, gentlemanly nature and compassion” that all who encountered or worked with him experienced. Roberson, who maintained a close relationship with Dr. Pace over the years, characterized him as “an educational icon in the City that so dearly loves its schools and which lovingly bestowed upon him the title of Superintendent Emeritus.”
Following his retirement in 1991, he and his wife, Mary Hall Pace, continued as important members of the Falls Church community, being leading members of the historic Falls Church Episcopal Church, and who remained loyal stalwarts among the “continuing Episcopalians,” working from 2006 – 2014 to re-establish ownership of church property by the Episcopal Diocese after an arch-conservative breakaway group had occupied the church property for seven years before the courts rightfully restored the land to the Episcopal Diocese. Dr. Pace was a member of the church from 1955 until his death last weekend.
Born on June 19, 1928, in Albemarle County, Virginia, Dr. Pace was the son of John Pendleton Pace and Virginia Dillard Pace. He earned his B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1948; his M.Ed from the University of Virginia in 1954; and his D.Ed from American University in 1969.
He began his career as a high school math teacher in Charlottesville. He found his calling in school administration and served as an elementary school principal in Bristol, Virginia before settling in Fairfax County to become principal of Franklin Sherman Elementary and the first principal of Longfellow Intermediate schools.
His success as an administrator led him to become Fairfax County Public Schools Areas 3 and 4 Administrator of Intermediate Education and Social Studies.
Dr. Pace then became Superintendent of Falls Church City Schools serving 20 years from 1971 until 1991.
Under his tenure, the Falls Church City school system gained recognition as one of the finest in the nation. George Mason High was rewarded as among the top ranked high schools in the country, introducing the International Baccalaureate curriculum in the early 1980s. He was honored as the National School Administrator of the Year in 1983.
The advancement and development of Falls Church City Schools stand among his proudest accomplishments.
Dr. Pace was a member of the George Mason University Board of Visitors, University of Virginia Alumni Association and the Virginia Education Association.
Dr. Pace was known for setting an example of quiet strength and love that all his family and associates sought to emulate. He was predeceased by his wife of 63 years Mary Hall Pace, for whom he had an enduring love and a partnership based on mutual support and respect.
Dr. Pace is survived by daughter Mary Warren Pace Sciba (Kenneth); sons Dr. Warren Joseph Pace, Jr. (Denise) and Dr. John Hall Pace (Maria); granddaughters Deirdre, Emily, and Diana; grandsons Jeremy and Johnny; great-granddaughters Indigo and Shreya, and great-grandson Ishaan. Dr. Pace is also survived by his older brother Wesley Emory Pace of Knoxville, Tennessee (formerly of Blacksburg, Virginia).
Honoring his legacy, current FCCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, in a statement to the News-Press, stated Monday, “Today I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Warren Pace. I am reminded daily that the work I do in FCCPS is a privilege and is built on the shoulders of giants. Dr. Pace was one of the biggest of giants that helped FCCPS become the amazing system it is. His memory and legacy will live on for years to come in our Little City and in the City of Falls Church Schools.”
Dr. Roberson, in his statement, said “Leslie and I are deeply saddened to learn of Warren’s passing. Mary and Warren Pace warmly and graciously welcomed our young family into their home when we became part of the Falls Church community.
“In 1991, he clearly wanted this then 35-year old superintendent to not be intimidated at the prospect of following an educational icon (my words) in the City that so dearly loves its schools and which lovingly bestowed upon him the title of Superintendent Emeritus. Ever since, and especially during our service in Falls Church, Dr. Pace was a confidante, an adviser, and a dear friend.
“His genuine, gentlemanly nature and compassion created a bond between the two of us which has lasted to this day. We enjoyed many lunches together with the Falls Church superintendents who succeeded us. In our last phone call, placed during the pandemic, I was comforted that he was in a good spot, with excellent care, and, in his trademark way, showing great sensitivity to the challenges faced by educators today, especially those he loved and nurtured so dearly in Falls Church. Warren’s leadership example and human spirit will continue to inspire and live within all of us he touched.”
Visitation will be held today, Thursday, Oct. 22, 5 – 8 p.m. at the National Funeral Home, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church. Funeral Service and Committal Service will be held on October 23, 2020 at 1 p.m. at Prize Hill Cemetery Chapel, 3291 Boonesville Rd, Free Union, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to The Falls Church Episcopal, or Meals on Wheels through Fairfax County Department of Family Services.