News & Press Releases
NVRPA Remembers Former Executive Director, William M. Lightsey
Fairfax, VA (June 4, 2010) – The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is sad to announce the former Executive Director William M. Lightsey, age 99, died Tuesday, June 1, 2010 in Arlington. Born of February 8, 1911, Mr. Lightsey was NVRPA Executive Director from 1966 to 1976, a decade that saw a great deal of growth for the organization.
"Bill Lightsey was Executive Director of NVRPA during a great time for parks,” said Paul Gilbert, current NVRPA Executive Director.
During Mr. Lightsey’s tenure, the Park Authority added over 5,000 acres of land – an amazing figure who’s total more than tripled NVRPA’s holdings at the time. Still, Lightsey’s and the Park Authority’s accomplishments over that span are far more impressive upon closer inspection.
Over that time period, the Park Authority added and/or opened Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington, Carlyle House Historic Park in Alexandria, Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington, Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax Station, Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling and the first major portions of the W&OD Trail. In addition, the Park Authority added two jurisdictions (Loudoun County and the City of Alexandria), and also opened the massive swimming pool complex at Bull Run Regional Park (now Atlantis Waterpark) as well the swimming pool complex at Pohick Bay Regional Park (now Pirate’s Cove Waterpark).
“In 1966 Virginia did a study of outdoor recreational needs which created a blueprint for where to create new parks,” Gilbert added. “There was also more federal funding available for parkland expansion than we have seen in the last few decades. A growing awarness of the need for parks in Northern Virginia and the resources to achieve that vision came together in the late 1960's and early 1970's."
NVRPA has since added several thousand additional acres to its system. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has added several new properties in the last few years bring the current total to just short of 11,000 acres.
Mr. Lightsey also had an active political career.
"Mr. Lightsey was also a member of the Virginia House of Delegates at the same time he was the Executive Director of NVRPA,” Gilbert said. “Because of this, he was particularly attuned to the State budget and where grant opportunities were, which helped develop the strong park system NVRPA is today."
Mr. Lightsey is survived by three daughters. A memorial service will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 4 at Peace Lutheran Church in Alexandria.