James J. Corbalis Jr., previous owner of the land that is to become Oakton Community Park, died Sept. 5 at the age of 87. Corbalis sold the roughly 10-acre plot near the intersection of Hunter Mill Road and Mystic Meadow Way to the Fairfax County Park Authority in 2001.
Corbalis made his name as the founding engineer director of Fairfax County Water Authority, a position which he assumed in 1958 and held until his retirement in 1985. Fairfax Water's Corbalis Water Treatment Plant in Herndon is named in his honor.
"This is really the guy that built the Fairfax Water system from the ground up. He was literally the first employee," said Fairfax Water spokesperson Jeanne Bailey. "When he was hired, there were no customers, there were no employees, there was no nothing," she said. In his first 10 or 12 years as the company's director, Corbalis bought 26 well systems and turned them into a single entity. He also purchased the Alexandria Water Company in 1967.
His daughter, Vienna resident Janet Caldow, noted that Corbalis also developed the system that is now used in most of the country to charge customers for water. Civil engineering, she said, "was what he studied in college, and that was his career and his passion."
Before building Fairfax Water, Corbalis served as engineer-director of Alexandria's Sanitation Authority and as the Fairfax County sanitary engineer. During World War II, he was an officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps.
"He was just a wonderful person, and he loved his children and his grandchildren," said Caldow.
— Mike DiCicco