"He's the kind of guy that most any organization could benefit from having in their midst," said Janet Rusk of Jim Kiefer, who was named this year's Lord Fairfax for the Hunter Mill District by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
Rusk knows Kiefer from her days of working with Vienna Little League, in which Kiefer was heavily involved during the 1980s and '90s, and of which he was president from 1980 to '82. At first, he was "just a dad who was always around to do whatever needed to be done for whoever needed help," she said. "He would volunteer his services, and you would call on him more and more, and he'd be around more and more. I guess that's kind of how he was with everything."
"He wasn't just your typical president," said Mark Gjormand, Madison's head baseball coach, who was playing in the Little League while Kiefer was leading it. "He was there every day." Gjormand said Kiefer was "probably one of the three people" who made Vienna Little League the success it has become. "I couldn't even begin to tell you the thousands of hours he put in," he said.
"After my work with youth sports, I tell people, I graduated to working with seniors," said Kiefer, a retired accountant, auditor and finance manager for Fairfax County Public Schools. During the 1980s and '90s, he became heavily involved in Vienna's 50-90 Club. He joined as a member and a sponsor, helping to cook meals for the other members, and ended up heading the club for about seven years. "You come in, and people see you're involved and ask, 'Why don't you serve as president?'" said Kiefer. "And several times, in moments of weakness, I've said yes," he chuckled.
It did not take long for him to assume the role at the 50-90 Club. Gaye Wymer, one of two "co-coordinators" who took over Kiefer's role, recalled that he was the club's coordinator within about two years of joining. She said it had been difficult to find someone to take the spot. "And he did step forward and volunteer, and we were very happy," she said.
"I thought he did a darn good job," said Paul Schmitt, the club's other current co-coordinator. He noted that he and Wymer both stepped in to take Kiefer's place "because no one person wanted to do it."
Kiefer also joined the Hunter Mill District Team, sponsored by Cathy Hudgins' office, in Reston's Relay for Life in 2003, and in 2005 he served as the team captain. A one-time member of the D.C. National Guard, he also has been a member of American Legion Post 180 for 23 years, has sat on the Post's executive board for about five years and has worked with the organization's youth programs for the last eight years or so, helping with the student oratorical contest and the children's Christmas party. And he volunteers at George Mason University basketball games, manning the press table and the hospitality suite.
"I've always felt that, wherever you're going to live, you should support your community and get involved," he said.
Rusk said Kiefer has a recurring leadership role because "he's a very intelligent man. He's an organizer, planner, manager-type person who enjoys donating time to various organizations in the community." However, she noted, he takes the role quietly. "He's a very quiet, unassuming kind of guy," she said.
Kiefer said he has curtailed his activities in recent years due to increasing arthritis problems.
"I'm sure he still gives as much of his time and his energies as he can," said Rusk. "But he has to be more selective now."
Kiefer said he is now enjoying frequent trips to Ocean City, where he owns a condominium and sits on the condo association's board of directors. He also said he has two grandchildren living in Sterling and enjoys watching their baseball and softball games.
As for his Lord Fairfax designation, Kiefer said, "I'm honored that I was chosen, but there are still people who do more than I do."
Gjormand, however was of a different mind. "He's definitely done his share to earn that honor," he said. "He's a class act and a very kind man and obviously a very giving person."