The County Mourns the Passing of Former Vice Chairman Martha Pennino


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
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Sept. 17, 2004

 

The County Mourns the Passing of Former Vice Chairman Martha Pennino

 

Martha Virginia Pennino, a former vice chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Martha Virginia Pennino, a former vice chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisorspassed away today (Friday, Sept. 17) at age 86 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She died as a result of Parkinson’s disease.

A public wake will be held at Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna, although no date has been scheduled.

“My mother was a humanitarian, and she was well known to residents as ‘Mother Fairfax,’” said Pennino’s youngest daughter, Bonita Pennino. “She worked diligently to make sure that every county resident could benefit from everything that Fairfax County could offer.”

Born in Roanoke, Va., Pennino became one of the longest-serving members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, spending 24 years on the board. She was first elected in November 1967, representing what was then the Centreville District. Not only did she serve as vice chairman for a total of 17 years, but also she held that position for 16 years consecutively.

Most recently, Pennino served on the board for Fairfax Water.

During her many years on the Board of Supervisors, Pennino was an advocate for helping others, effectively championing many human services programs. For example, she was the driving force to establish the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission and the Embry Rucker shelter — even providing cots in her own office for the homeless prior to the shelter’s construction.

Additionally, Pennino took a leadership role in developing the planned community of Reston, as well as embracing low-cost housing adjacent to her office.

In honor of her many accomplishments for county residents, the board dedicated the Fairfax County Human Services Center in her name on Sept. 12, 1994. The Pennino Building, located at 12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, was built in 1991 to house seven county human service agencies.

Others also recognized her extraordinary service to our community. In 1985, Pennino won the Tom Bradley Regional Leadership Award. In giving her this honor, the National Association of Regional Councils cited her efforts in developing the first energy policy for a metropolitan area, the region’s car pool program and a fair share housing program. In 1986, Washingtonian magazine named her “Washingtonian of the Year.”

Prior to joining the board, Pennino was elected to three terms on the Vienna Town Council, serving as vice mayor during one of those terms.

However, her efforts to improve Fairfax County’s quality of life extended beyond elected office. She was directly involved in many community boards and foundations. For example, she belonged to the advisory board of the Northern Virginia Youth Services Coalition; was the director of the Northern Virginia Community Foundation; and was a commissioner on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. Pennino also sat on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University.

She was the president and first vice president of the Virginia Association of Counties. Pennino also served as the president of the Virginia Municipal League. At the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, she held the posts of president and chairman, as well as being a member of the board of directors for 17 years.

Pennino is survived by her four children, Bonita Pennino of Fairfax County, Va., Walt “Penney” Pennino of Fredericksburg, Va., Angela Curly of Larkspur, Calif., and Donna Howard of Honolulu, Hawaii.


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