One of Loudoun’s strongest conservation and parks advocates, Su Webb, died on Oct. 18.
She was found in her home by Loudoun County deputies who were called to check on her welfare after she failed to keep several appointments where she was expected.
A veteran newspaperwoman, Webb, 73, devoted decades of service to preservation efforts in Loudoun. She is credited with playing a pivotal role in preserving the county’s cultural and environmental treasures during a period of unprecedented growth and development.
She was president of the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum and served on the boards of the Piedmont Environmental Council, Aldie Heritage Association and the Lovettsville Park Advisory Board. For 20 years, Webb served on the Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board. She also served on the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority board of directors.
In addition to her work on the farm museum at Claude Moore Park in Sterling with its founder and first president, former Loudoun Extension Agent Bill Harrison, her lasting accomplishments include the transfer of the historic Mt. Zion Church and Aldie Mill Park to the protection of NOVA Parks, the establishment of Gilbert’s Corner Regional Park and White’s Ford Regional Park.
Among the accolades presented to Webb for her leadership service, she was named the 2012 Heritage Hero by the Mosby Heritage Association and was inducted as a Loudoun Laurel.
Known for her sunny personality, enjoyment of life and strong leadership, tributes poured in for the Georgia-born Webb this week.
For staff at the heritage farm museum, Webb’s death hit particularly hard as she was at the museum on almost a daily basis.
Co-director Katie Eichler Jones said Webb was “passionate about Loudoun County preservation.” She said staff and board members were anxious to share their stories of Webb’s passion for the museum during remembrance gathering Webb’s daughter, Anne Fabry, is helping the plans at there on Friday, Oct. 28, beginning at 1 p.m.
Harrison was a longtime friend, having known and worked with Webb for 25 years. It was Harrison who first proposed the creation of a farm museum at a time when traditional agriculture was dying out in the county, to create the museum, receiving support from Webb from the beginning.
“She was a dynamic person,” he said, recalling their long partnership at the museum, including her tireless work on its behalf right up to her death, noting she was like a volunteer who came in every day.
“She lived and breathed for preservation and the land, and for preserving the early traditions of the county,” Harrison said.
Fellow board member Jeff Browning, president and owner of Browning Equipment in Purcellville, praised Webb’s championship of the museum’s future, as she oversaw the recent re-signing of the museum’s memorandum of understanding with the county.
Dan Kaseman succeeded Webb on the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority board. “Nobody has given more for parks, recreation and open space than Su Webb—she gave her life’s blood,” he said, marveling at the hours and dedication she devoted to her causes, “for so long and so hard.”
Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) first met Webb when he was asked by the Board of Supervisors to co-chair the Rural Economic Development Task Force.
“She was very concerned that the A-3 zoning then existing in over 200,000 acres of rural Loudoun was not really helping our rural economy and was actually hurting it [by] facilitating by-right residential development,” Minchew said.
The task force met with Webb and Harrison at the farm museum, where she showed them “the richness of Loudoun’s agricultural history—we were all moved by her passion,” Minchew recalled.
Webb then challenged them to come up with a rural economic development that would “not wind up on a bookshelf in the Planning Office but would actually make a difference,” he said.
That challenge was instrumental in the task force’s time spent on policy implementation, not just policy development, according to Minchew.
Webb also used her wide knowledge of Loudoun County’s zoning policies to good effect to preserve parts of the village of Aldie. Tucker Withers, owner of the Little River Inn and a keen protector of its rural charm, called Webb “my ‘go to’ person for anything concerning the preservation of Aldie—she always knew what was protected and what was not—she was right up on that.”
As an ardent parks advocate, who lived just outside Lovettsville, Webb was a strong supporter of the county’s acquisition of 91 acres on the eastern edge of Lovettsville in 2004. “She was very supportive of the town and what we were doing,” former Mayor Elaine Walker said, recalling Webb’s keen interest in the planning and development of the park. She was named to the the Lovettsville Park Advisory Committee that was formed after the purchase of the land.
In addition to parks and open space, Webb had a strong interest in the county’s history. Loudoun historian, former educator and current executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, Rich Gillespie advised MHAA board members of Webb’s death in an email. Most recently, Gillespie noted, Webb had shown her usual strong support for preservation during a county public hearing on the controversial Catesby Farm banquet and event center application shortly before her death.
“On behalf of all of us in the preservation world of the heritage area, we will miss this local dynamo,” he wrote. “Hats sadly off to Su Webb.”