Live, Work, Play — But No Final Resting Place in Reston

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Classic Reston is a biweekly feature sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce that highlights businesses, places and people with deep roots in Reston.

Reston was planned in the 1960s, founder Robert E. Simon purposely left one thing out: a cemetery.

Simon says when his family owned New York’s Carnegie Hall, he had dealings with people in the funeral industry. He did not like what he saw, so he was not eager support the business.

But an entire generation has now lived, worked and played in Reston. It is too late to have loved ones buried here — there is no open space for a cemetery now — but a group of Restonians has been working to get a memorial garden in Reston.

“There is no special area here for people to be remembered, where we can go to honor and celebrate Restonians who have passed,” said Joe Ritchey, board chair and president of the Initiative for Public Art Reston (IPAR).

IPAR representatives are working with a Memorial Garden of Reflection committee to identify space and design a place of reflection in Reston. Members of the group spoke at last week’s Baron Cameron Park Master Plan meeting about its hope to be included in the park plans.

The Reston Master Plan changes approved by the county supervisors in February also included the framework for such a place.

“From its beginning in 1964, the planned community of Reston has lacked a special place where one can go to remember and memorialize loved ones. A clear vision for such a facility has emerged through IPAR. It should be a universal and inclusive place where Restonians can remember and reflect upon the passing of loved ones. It should respect and support the many ways in which people choose to acknowledge the passing of life. It’s design should provide a setting for tranquil reflection, contemplation, meditation, inspiration and healing,” the plan states.

The IPAR committee was formed in 2011 after the death of IPAR supporter Ann Rodriguez. It envisions a one-acre site at either Baron Cameron or Lake Fairfax Park. The site should feature natural beauty, wooded elements, as well as walkways and benches, the committee says. Once the project is awarded a site, the next steps will be to raise money to fund the project, as well as hire a landscape designer.

“In the 46 years I have lived in Reston, I have made some very close friends,” said Memorial Garden Committee Chair Sally Brodsky. “Some of them have died. I don’t grieve them in the sense I miss them every day. But I know when I can go to a place where it is quiet, my memories start popping up. In that process, I remember my close friends. I think we all need that. We have every way to be active in Reston, but we need a quiet serene place we —can just be.”

Reston will celebrate its 50th anniversary (and Simon’s 100th birthday) at Founders Day from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Lake Anne Plaza. Complete schedule and details

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