Elaine Walker: ‘A Mayor for the Ages’

Of all the descriptions of former Lovettsville Mayor Elaine Walker that flowed after her June 1 death at Inova Loudoun Hospital, none were more frequently cited than “visionary.” 

It was a vision that saw clearly where and how her native town could progress—a position from which she never deviated. To achieve it, she brought a steely resolve and a clear mind.

Throughout her more than 32 years of dedicated public service—10 as a council member and 22 as Lovettsville’s mayor—the town achieved a remarkable record of achievement. From its position as Loudoun’s northern- most town, Lovettsville grew from a sleepy small rural town into the bustling and attractive hub of Northern Loudoun, strategically located on the busy north-south Rt. 287 arterial.

Admired and respected by admirers and opponents alike, as well as town staff, Walker retired in 2012, leaving with numerous awards and accolades, county wide.

Former Virginia General Assembly member Joe T. May, who served for 20 years in the House of Dele- gates, worked with Walker for four years in the ‘90s on the town’s efforts to build a comprehensive sewer system. Finding the funding to accomplish the project to the required standards for nitrogen discharge was “very difficult,” May said. But their work together forged a great friendship.

“I admired her deeply, she was tenacious and direct.” Nor was she afraid to engage with anyone in pursuit of the betterment of her town, he said, likening her to “steel with a light velvet coating.”

Former Loudoun Supervisor Charles L. “Charlie” Waddell and, later, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation, called Walker “a mayor for the ages.” He’d known and worked with her for 50 years. She was a strong member

of the Virginia Municipal League, he said: “She was a hands-on mayor.”

Her staff remembered her with affection and admiration. Former Lovettsville Town Manager, now Deputy Town Manager for the Town of Leesburg, Keith Markel listed numerous accomplishments for the town during her time in office.

But what set her apart, Markel said, was her willingness to work toward a long- term future for Lovettsville.

“She was a visionary for that little town—she created modern Lovettsville.”

By working with the developer of Town Center, Elm Street Development, Markel said Walker got land dedicated for public use—citing the town’s ample green public spaces. She began the push for the existing streetscape improvements, and promoted greater commercial development in the town.

Walker was a tireless promoter of the town’s German heritage, through the Oktoberfest and Mayfest celebrations that have become major attractions to the town.

Town Treasurer Lance Gladstone called Walker “the strongest and most tireless advocate for Lovettsville I’ve ever known.” He also noted “she could be as sweet as cotton candy or as tough as nails when standing up for the town.”

Former Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro admired Walker for “her big ideas,” saying she knew what she wanted for the town and then set about working to make it happen. “She was a very effective leader.”

Her successor as mayor, Robert “Bobby” Zoldos II, said “She had a vision that was much larger than the town—she had what all great leaders have.”

Zoldos recalled the difficulties of the town’s sewage situation in the ‘90s. “Back then, they only had a sew- age lagoon, into which they dumped all the town effluent.” According to Zoldos, the town was sued by a developer, who claimed the lack of proper sewage disposal was holding up his development. The town was ordered by the court to upgrade its sewer facility to create a completely new sewer system,” he re- called.

“She was a most incredible leader—who used the demand for construction to make the development pay for the infrastructure,” he said, calling Walker “an amazing lady.”

Walker’s daughter Linda, and her sisters Debbie and Carol, said “we are over- whelmed by realizing how lucky and grateful we are
for both our parents.” Their father, Cliff Walker, a former Marine who enlisted three days after Pearl Harbor, died three years ago after an al- most 60-year-marriage.

“It’s incredibly uplifting to see the respect and love we have for our parents—we’re so grateful to have been in their orbit—wonderful caring people,” Linda said. “They were inseparable, always together.”

Walker’s daughters hope to hold a future commemoration of her life at the Walker Pavilion on the Town Green.

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