Falls Church Women's History Walk

Sunday, March 31, 2019

2019 Honorary Grand Marshals

Nikki Graves Henderson

Historian, Peace & Justice Advocate

Nikki is an accomplished historian and visionary community organizer.
Her research resurrected the stories of many African American community members.
Through her leadership, the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation accomplishes its mission to preserve Falls Church Civil Rights history.
As one of the founders of the Social Justice Committee of Falls Church and Vicinity, Nikki is working with members of numerous local churches to build a stronger community for all people.
Nikki, and her husband Ed, received the Carroll V. Shreve Award from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

Laura Connors Hull

Arts Visionary & Advocate

Laura’s vision to bring the arts to people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds came to life through Creative Cauldron.
After several years of building support, one camp and performance at a time while working in temporary spaces, Artspace Falls Church opened in 2009.
As the Producing Director of Creative Cauldron, Laura brings thousands of people to Falls Church every year, building community with every production.
Creative Cauldron’s offerings include Live Theater, Learning Theater, Bold New Works, Live Music, Workshops and Camps.
Laura is there for almost every performance, looking after the artists, sponsors, guests and friends.

Lindy Hockenberry

Dedicated to Falls Church

Lindy taught in Falls Church City Public Schools (at Thomas Jefferson Elementary and George Mason Middle School) for more than two decades.
In 1984 she won the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, as part of the 5th grade team.
She served 8 years on the Falls Church City Council, 2 years as Vice-Mayor, and also on the Planning Commission.
Lindy is the George Mason Mustang’s #1 fan, attending sports events year-round rooting for students who know from her second career as a substitute teacher.
As a member of the CBC she has been a leader in the development of the Youth Reps Initiative.

Jane Scully

Public Servant

Jane served on both the Falls Church School Board (5 years) including time as both Chair and Vice Chair and Falls Church City Council (4 years).
She was a founder of the FCCPS Day Care Program in 1976, one of the first in the Virginia.
As a City Council member Jane led the group that developed the agreement with University of Virginia/Virginia Tech to designate the Northern Virginia Graduate Center in Falls Church.
Jane was a member of Citizens for a Better City, the League of Women Voters as well as a representative of Falls Church on numerous state and regional committees.

Herstory Stations

The 2019 Walk will begin our celebration of the 100th anniversary of women's voting rights. In addition to stations recognizing these extraordinary women, several stops along the walk will commemorate the work of suffragists who led the way.

Harriett Brice

Community Leader & Church Builder

A free woman, she lived with two daughters and her enslaved husband, George Brice (who escaped during the Civil War and joined the U.S. Colored Troops) near Falls Church on property she purchased in 1864.
In 1867 she donated the land for the establishment of the Galloway United Methodist Church.
In 1871 she and her husband sold a plot of land to trustees for the building of the Second Baptist Church.
Both churches played important roles in the Falls Church Civil Rights Movement.

Mary White

Church Leader

Lifetime member of Second Baptist Church.
She spent the majority of her adult life volunteering for Church and community activities serving others.
Founding member of Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation. She coordinated hundreds of major annual service projects and social activities at the James Lee Community Center.
Tireless advocate for Senior citizens, devoted to helping seniors age in place and have access to healthy, fresh food.
Coordinator for the "Moneyless Market", distributing brand new home improvement materials and household items to thousands of low-moderate income families and seniors in the past four years.

Harriet Foote Turner


Ms. Harriet Foote Turner was a free woman of color who worked on the Fitzhugh plantation. One of her jobs was to pick up newly arrived enslaved workers from the Alexandria slave market.
In 1851, she took bold action. Instead of delivering twelve people to the plantation, she posed as their owner, forged travel passes and led them to freedom in Canada.
After this, she was not able to return to Falls Church but maintained contacts with family and eventually purchased land for her family members. (Target and The Lincoln at Tinner Hill stand there today.)

Tanya Gaskins Hardy

History Keeper

The Gaskins family has attended Galloway United Methodist Church since it was founded (1871).
In 2007 Tanya served on the Falls Church Sesquicentennial Civil War Trails Committee. She collected documentation to have Galloway United Methodist Cemetery included in the Civil War Trails Historical Program in the State of Virginia.
Tanya established a historical museum in the lower level of the Galloway church fellowship hall that chronicles the history of the church as well as the Falls Church community.
She has been able to trace her mother’s ancestry back to the early 1800’s. After collecting stories from family members she wrote her first book entitled, “From Buckingham to Ballard” that tells the story of her great, great grandfather’s journey from Buckingham, Virginia at the time of emancipation.

Cay Wiant

Educator & Artist

Accomplished storyteller and writer about the world of fairies.
A dedicated English teacher George Mason, she was named the system’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2003.
A dedicated environmentalist, serving steadfastly with the Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) and participating in many Arbor Day tree planting efforts and ceremonies. She was also a member of Falls Church League of Women Voters.
For almost a decade she was head of the employee-based Falls Church Education Association, advocating passionately and eloquently on behalf of the salary and related needs of school employees.
She sang in Falls Church Presbyterian Church choir and was a church deacon.

Nancy Sprague

Visionary Educator

This pioneering educator and leader was committed to teacher leadership and professional development. The Falls Church Education Foundation maintains the Sprague Teacher Leadership Fund in her memory.
Began her teaching career in Falls Church and ended career as Chief Academic Officer for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Nancy was the visionary school leader who brought the International Baccalaureate program to Falls Church.
She also served as a university professor (UVA, GMU, UMD and FSU) and as the long-time chair of the education committee at Dulin United Methodist Church.

Fran Richardson

Writer & Volunteer

An accomplished writer, she penned letters, reports, papers, and stories on subjects ranging from improving Red Cross recreation services for hospitalized soldiers to life in Uganda.
Active in the Falls Church League of Women Voters, AAUW, Citizens for a Better City, and the YWCA.
Helped found the Falls Church Housing Corporation and helped establish what is now the Falls Church Homeless Shelter.
On Memorial Day 2004, Women in Military Service for America recognized her in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where Richardson represented the American Red Cross.

Leah Porzel

Community Advocate

Served as President of the Northern VA Mental Health Association.
President of the Falls Church branch American Association of University Women and a member for more than 65 years.
As a long time member and Chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Aurora House, Mrs. Porzel was instrumental in the design, construction, and operation of Aurora House, providing unwavering support and compassion to girls who gained meaningful and important skills during their time at Aurora House.
Girl Scout leader for more than 18 years.
20+ year member of the St. James Catholic Church choir.
Served as a docent at Cherry Hill Farmhouse, and active in the Village Preservation & Improvement Society

Mildred Tinner Leake

Citizen Leader & Matriarch

Fifth Generation Tinner Family Matriarch
Born and raised in Falls Church, and active in civil rights throughout her life.
Active member of Second Baptist Church

Caroline Kerfoot

Woman of Belief

Caroline Kerfoot is described as being the daughter of an African Chief and it seems she was captured shortly before the Civil War. She may have been one of the last persons imported for slavery in America.
The stories say that she arose before dawn and then multiple times during the day prayed using words unfamiliar to others. If you sound out the syllables she is said to repeat, they sound similar to portions of Muslim prayers.
A deeply religious woman of great strength and character she continued to publicly practice her faith in a foreign land where the majority of the town were not of her faith.
(Portrait is representational.)

Mary Ellen Henderson

Educator & Leader

The middle school in the City of Falls Church is named for this educator and activist.
Mrs. Henderson reopened the Falls Church Colored School and her advocacy for equality in education led to the building of the James Lee Elementary School.
She was a charter member of the first rural branch of the NAACP and the first African American woman to join the League of Women Voters.

Louisa Mars Henderson


Louisa married William Henderson and went on to help run the Henderson family grocery store.
The family lived in a large Victorian home next to the Falls Church. She and her husband had four children including, Dr. Edwin B. Henderson.
Ms. Eliza Henderson was a high ranking member of the Eastern Stars and attended Second Baptist Church, donating part of the land that the Second Baptist campus rests on today.
She died at age 99 years old. Her death was noted in the local newspaper as she was the oldest registered voter in the town.

Eliza Henderson

Freedom Seeker

Eliza was enslaved in Washington, DC. She was sexually assaulted and ran away. As punishment for escaping she was sold from the rest of her family and sent to Mississippi. There she married a Portuguese man, Shadrack Rodriguez and had a son. Her husband joined the Confederate Army and never returned.
After the Battle of Vicksburg Eliza escaped bondage, taking her infant son with her. She hid her son inside a trunk for safekeeping and walked back to Washington, DC, following the Union soldiers.
After the Emancipation, Eliza purchased land from her cousin, Fred Foote, Jr. The proeperty was located on the corner of what is now Broad St. & Washington St. and extended to the stone wall next to the Falls Church Episcopal cemetery. She lived the rest of her life in Falls Church, building a large Victorian home and a grocery store, which she ran for many years.

Jane Dexter


Member and Chair of Falls Church School Board (1954-1966)
Fought against proposed cutbacks in the new school division, resisting efforts by other members to dismiss principals, teachers, nurses and school psychologists in an attempt to save money.
Served as the first President of the Falls Church League of Women Voters and on the board of Falls Church Housing Corp.
Board member and Vice Chair of Citizens for a Better City.
The Jane and Wayne Dexter Award is the CBC’s highest honor presented to a member each year.

Betty Blystone

Citizen Leader

Betty served on Falls Church School Board for 12 years.
She also served as President of the Virginia School Board Association.
She served 6 years on Falls Church City Council, two of them as mayor.
During her tenure, a blue ribbon citizen panel was formed to develop a campaign to convince families to move to Falls Church City to combat decreasing population.
City Infrastructure during her tenure: City Hall East Wing addition, Madison Park and W. Broad St. Streetscape between West St. and Haycock Rd.

Marty Meserve Community Builder

Served 5 years on City Council, 4 of them as Vice Mayor.
Prior to that she was a member of the Planning Commission, Economic Development Authority and Tree Commission.
She was active in the development of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, the Broad Street Streetscape Commission, the UVA/VT Northern Virginia Center, Artspace.
One of the founders of Falls Church Arts, serving for 5 years on its board.
For the past 11 years, she has been a dedicated member of the board of Creative Cauldron, serving in various capacities including President.
A longstanding member of the Falls Church League of Women Voters.

Betsy Read

Abolitionist and Educator

Betsy Read and her father were part of an effort to educate enslaved adults and children how to read, write and other skills.
They were eager to learn and in the face of grave danger secretly attended classes, defying the law of the land.
At one point it became too dangerous to continue the classes at her Uncle’s house. Betsy would secretly visit the homes of enslaved families and hold classes there.
Before, during and after the Civil War Betsy, her father, John Read, and uncle, Hiram Read, faced great danger for their roles in helping blacks to gain education.

Lola Saunders

Teacher & Community Leader

Lola Saunders, a Falls Church native, was a long-time teacher at the Falls Church Colored School and taught K-3rd grade.
During this period of segregated schools, colored students had to leave the city after 7th grade.
Students who completed the Falls Church Colored School were said by their 8th grade teachers to be better prepared due to their foundation at the Colored School in Falls Church on Annandale Rd.
Ms. Saunders served with the Urbanites and the House of Ruth, a self- help group that provided social and financial support for the African American community since they were unable to get life insurance, disability or sick leave benefits.
She served as a deaconess at the Second Baptist Church

Carol DeLong

City Leader

First woman mayor of Falls Church
Served on the PTA and Planning Commission
Elected to City Council in 1974 and served for 16 years. Mayor from 1980-1988
During her tenure, a blue ribbon citizen panel was formed to develop a campaign to convince families to move to Falls Church City to combat decreasing population.
Under her leadership the Economic Development Authority was established.
City Infrastructure during her tenure: City Hall East Wing addition, Madison Park and W. Broad St. Streetscape between West St. and Haycock Rd.

Big Chimneys Early Pioneers

Big Chimneys Cabin is the first known European-American dwelling in the City of Falls Church. It was a log cabin, nicknamed for its large, bookending chimneys. One chimney was marked 1699, which set the settlement date for the town.
The cabin served as an “ordinary” for travelers, providing them with a place to sleep and a meal. It was located at the crossroads of a trail to the Potomac and rolling road to Alexandria.
While the names of the settlers who lived in Big Chimneys are not known, we presume at least one woman was among the earliest inhabitants.

Sarah Wren


Sarah Wren was the widow of James Wren, architect and builder of the 1869 brick Falls Church Episcopal.
Sarah was known to hold anti-slavery sentiments and after her husband’s death, began to emancipate the enslaved people left to her.
She required that each enslaved person learn to read before she freed them.

Barbara Cram

Volunteer Superhero

Chief Organizer of Watch Night, the City’s New Year’s Eve Celebration
Served on Falls Church Tricentennial Committee in 1994.Chair of the Falls Church Committee for the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown Landing (2007)
Co-chair of Arts and Humanities Council of Falls Church
Founded The Little City CATCH Foundation
Serves on Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has been selected as a Pillar of the Community.
Led the effort to open the Falls Church Arts Gallery at The Kensington
Advocated for and installed beautification of Falls Church
2017 Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal
Her infectious enthusiasm brings in many volunteers to community efforts and events.

Midge Wang

Historian & Preservationist

Preserving the rich history of Falls Church with maps and markers at historic places.
Made history accessible and interesting with living history in period attire.
Longtime member of the board of Village Preservation & Improvement Society.
Co-Founder of the Victorian Society at Falls Church - and member of Historic Falls Church Inc.
Historic Commission member for 20 years.
Organized “Church and Tavern Day”, a living history portrayal of Rolling Road, which became Civil War Day commemoration.
Owner of Mt. Hope, the oldest house in Falls Church, she is passionate about preserving the early history of the city and structures.

Mattie Gundry

Educator & Civic Leader

The honorable Mattie Gundry was nationally known for her work teaching children with special needs basic knowledge and skills.
She operated the Virginia Training School for 50 years at 300 W. Broad St. and a sanitorium at Shadow Walk (Little Falls).
She was elected to the Falls Church Town Council in 1921, immediately after women won the right to vote, along with Mrs. P.H. Smyth, before it was common for women to serve in the public sphere.
Director of the Falls Church Bank for 37 years. She won several awards as an artist and architect.

Jessie Thackrey

Dedicated to FCCPS

One of the founders of the City of Falls Church and its school division.
Jessie Thackrey Preschool is named in her honor.
She served two terms on the School Board, where she advocated for the addition of paraprofessionals at elementary level.
Even after stepping down from the School Board she was an ardent school activist, appearing at a City Council meeting months before her death at age 100.

Viola Hudson

Civil Rights Advocate

Ms. Viola Hudson helped bring justice and equal access to public services and utilities in the Falls Church community.
She helped get mail service, street lights, road improvements, electricity and sewers in the black community.
She wrote her first letters advocating for these services at the age of 12.
During her life, Ms. Hudson worked for the US government and also as a practical nurse. She was secretary of the Senior Usher board, Supervisor of Juvenile Lodge 1647, a Cub Scout den mother for 6 years years and was active in her church.
Ms. Hudson also organized the first girl scout troop for Black girls in Falls Church and served on the Northern Virginia Girl Scout Council’s board of directors.

Jackie Bong Wright

Immigrant Leader

Came to United States as refugee from Vietnam in 1975.
Established Vietnamese American Voters Association and registered 2,000 voters in 2000, and 4,000 voters in 2004.
Received a Washingtonian of the Year award for voter registration drive from Washingtonian Magazine in 2003.
In 2007 Ms. Senior America Foundation awarded her the Gold Medal of Liberty for her advocacy work on behalf of victims of sex and labor trafficking.
Vietnamese Writers Foundation awarded her its Gold Peace Statue in 2013 for her lifetime achievements as a social activist, empowering citizens to vote, and as an advocate defending the rights of women and children.

Marian Costner Selby Trailblazer

Marion has integrated school and workplace environment. Her valuable lesson learned is: Adults take longer to rid themselves of prejudice and embrace persons of different races or cultures. Marion was the first African American student to attend and to graduate from George Mason High School.
She was the first African American to work in the office of Fairfax Education Association
She was also the first African American to work in the Fairfax County Planning Department in a position other than summer employment/custodial position.

Alixa Naff


Dr. Alixa Naff was a Lebanese-born American Historian, known as "The Mother of Arab-American Studies."
She focused most of her research on the first wave of Arab American immigration to the United States at the turn of the 20th Century.
The collection she donated to the Smithsonian includes 500 artifacts, 450 oral history interviews, and more than 2,000 photos,

Mary Riley Styles

Book Lover

Our library is named after Mary Riley Styles, who grew up at Cherry Hill, the Civil War Era farmhouse still standing across the street on Park Avenue.
For more than 25 years she was chairman of the Library Committee of the Falls Church Women’s Club, which managed and funded the library before it was a city government facility.
She was active in other civic groups and newspapers note the many meetings she chaired, from the problem of unemployment in Falls Church after the stock market crash of 1929, to aiding the Red Cross and promoting international understanding during World War II.

Mary "Mollie" Edwards Pultz Riley

Daring Teen

This alleged Confederate spy from Berkeley County, Virginia was arrested at the age of 18 and imprisoned in the Capitol Prison.
Women frequently served as Confederate spies in that part of the state.
Mollie had passed innocent-seeming noted to friends in the Confederacy containing information from conversations with Union soldiers.
Awaiting trial, she was released from prison to the custody of the Hughes family in Falls Church. She was never tried for espionage.
The Hughes family introduced her to Joseph S. Riley and the two fell in love. After their marriage they moved to Cherry Hill, to start a family, which included their daughter, Mary Riley.

Edna Frady


Longtime employee of the National Education Association.
Member of the Woman’s Club of Falls Church, Village Preservation and Improvement Society, Citizens for a Better City and the Falls Church City Democratic Committee (FCCDC).
Frady’s work on the FCCDC led to service on the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee and the State Central Democratic Committee. Her presence at the state level brought renown to Falls Church.
2000 winner of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Pillar and 1997 winner of the Mattie Gundry Award.

Cathy Kaye

Public Servant

Treasurer of Falls Church from her election in 2006 until her retirement in July 2014.
Served as the campaign treasurer for many local elected officials.
Member and president of the Citizens for a Better City (CBC) and recipient of the Jane and Wayne Dexter Award.
Active in the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, Falls Church Housing Corp, Greater Hillwood Citizens’ Association and the League of Women Voters.
Member of the Village Preservation and Improvement Society and the Falls Church Education Foundation.

Ruby Bolster & Mildred Pope

In the early 1968 the City of Falls Church acquired Cherry Hill Farmhouse and Barn. At the time there was a plan to turn it into offices.
Ruby Bolster and Mildred Pope, along with Merelyn Kaye and Audrey Kelly, led the effort to preserve Cherry Hill Farm House as a museum.
These women founded the Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation to furnish the house and barn languishing on City property.
Extensive research and time went into acquiring appropriate furnishings for this Greek Revival style house and mid-19th century barn.

Merelyn Kaye & Audrey Kelly

History Keeper

Merelyn Kaye and Audrey Kelly, along with Ruby Bolster and Mildred Pope, led the effort to preserve Cherry Hill Farm House as a museum.
These women founded the Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation to furnish the house and barn languishing on City property.
Mary Madeline King joined the Friends several years later, and was influential in acquiring appropriate furnishings for this Greek Revival style house and mid-19th century barn.
The Friends trained docents to give tours and began educational programs that would interpret life in mid-19th century. Virginia.

Mary Madeline King

History Keeper

Merelyn Kaye and Audrey Kelly, along with Ruby Bolster and Mildred Pope, led the effort to preserve Cherry Hill Farm House as a museum.
These women founded the Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation to furnish the house and barn languishing on City property.
Mary Madeline King joined the Friends several years later, and was influential in acquiring appropriate furnishings for this Greek Revival style house and mid-19th century barn.
The Friends trained docents to give tours and began educational programs that would interpret life in mid-19th century. Virginia.

Presented By:

Women of Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and Falls Church Elected Women

Tinner Hill Board : Nikki Graves Henderson, Rebecca Tinner Stotts, Irena Chambers, Tori McKinney

Treasurer: Jody Acosta City Council members: Marybeth Connelly, Letty Hardi

School Board members: Erin Gill, Shannon Litton, Shawna Russell

Partner Organizations

Look for Information Tables along the route set up by these organizations and businesses:

  • Creative Cauldron near Station 1
  • Tinner Hill Music Festival near Station 3
  • Falls Church Distilllery near Station 4 offering Restaurant Week Special plus a free glass of house red or white or draft beer to Women's History Walk participants.
  • Kiln + Kustard near Station 4 - Free Custard to Women's History Walk participants
  • Falls Church AAUW near Station 5
  • Body Dynamics near Station 5
  • Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation near Station 7
  • League of Women Voters near Station 9
  • Daughters of American Revolution near Station 11
  • Village Preservation & Improvement Society near Station 13
  • Girl Scout Troop 1688 near Station 16
  • Turning Point Suffragist Memorial at Cherry Hill Farmhouse