Tuesday, September 22, 2015

R.I.P., Robert E. Simon

Robert E. Simon, the founder of Reston, Virginia, died yesterday at the age of 101. Simon was a big thinker — and the big plan he had for the parcel of hunt-country land in western Fairfax County was that people should be able to live, work, shop and play all in the same place.

What held his vision together were the Reston Trails, lovely paved paths that wind their way from village cluster to village cluster, passing lakes and wetlands, woods and meadows.

The Reston Trails are my stomping ground. I've walked them for more than a quarter century now, walked them in all weathers and moods. I've pushed my babies in strollers on them and, later, watched my kids bicycle ahead of me on them, still wobbly but proud to be training-wheel-free. Now I walk them in this new phase of life, my children living their own lives away from home.

While I've used the paths to muse and find some quiet time, the point of Reston was actually just the opposite. "Community," Simon is quoted as saying in an obituary in today's Washington Post. "That word is the whole discussion. ... I think having facilities readily available for people of all kinds, from little kids to the elderly — that's the most important thing of all."

(Lake Anne Plaza, Reston's original village and the home of Robert E. Simon.) 

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