Entering Supervisor Dana Kauffman's office at the Lee District Government Center on Franconia Road is about to undergo a major change. That fact was recognized last Saturday during a farewell reception in the district office conference room following Kauffman's annual Town Meeting.
That change will be a void in what constituents have come to take for granted over the past 27 years. Visitors to Kauffman's office will no longer be greeted by the person who served on his staff since his tenure began 12 years ago. Receptionist Debbie Wilson's last day on the Lee District payroll is April 13.
Twenty seven years ago, when Joe Alexander was the Lee District Supervisor, Debbie Wilson began her formal career in that office. She followed her mother, Helen Wilson, who had worked with Alexander for 18 years. The Community Room in the present center is named for Helen Wilson.
Although she officially went on the district's payroll in 1980 she has been involved with that office since 1964. "My school bus used to drop me off at the location of the old office. I'd help my mother until it was time for her to go home," Wilson said. Debbie was with Alexander for 15 years and with Kauffman for the last 12.
"It's going to be rough leaving here. This office has been my home throughout my adult life," Wilson told the admirers crammed into the conference room and overflowing into the reception area. "But, the new job will be only a 10 minute commute." Wilson resides in Chantilly.
"But, I'll still be coming to this area. My doctor is here. My manicurist is here. And, I'll still be involved with the Franconia Museum," she said. Wilson is a Franconia area native.
In presenting Wilson with a farewell gift, Kauffman said, "Debbie has had to endure two Supervisors. More often than not she has made me look good. Now she has a chance to start brand new in a brand new office. But, she will be sorely missed."
Wilson is joining the County's new Office of Revitalization in the County Executive's Office. It officially gets underway July 1.
When Wilson started, the Lee District office shared space with the Mount Vernon District office above the old Groveton Police Station on South Kings Highway, she recalled. "We moved to this location in the 1970s and then the new District office was built here in the 1980s," she said.
PAYING TRIBUTE to Wilson's ability to work with constituent problems and juggle tight schedules, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly said, "The citizens in this room know how hard our District offices work. It takes real skill to lock on to a problem and get a satisfactory solution. That's exactly what you have done Debbie."
Noted for always having mints on her desk for visitors to the Lee District Office, Wilson was presented with a supply of mints by Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Holly Dougherty so she can continue that tradition at her new office in the Fairfax County Government Center's Herrity Building.
Several guests at the reception offered accolades for Wilson's help and concern for their needs over the years. But, they all seemed to be summed up best by long-time Wilson friend Pete Todd. "When she chooses you as a friend, it's as a friend in the truest sense of the word," he said.