Former Lovettsville Mayor Elaine Walker, who served at the head of the town for two decades in the ‘90s and early 2000s, died Sunday night.
Walker, a Lovettsville native, has a track record in the town dating back to the early 1980s. She originally served on the Town Council for a decade before being elected mayor in 1990. She was re-elected 10 times, eventually serving 22 years in that role.
Walker was also a founding member of the Coalition of Loudoun Towns—a non-legislative group comprised of Loudoun’s seven mayors that meets to share suggestions and collaborate on challenges their towns face, which was created in the early 1990s.
It was because of Walker that former town manager Sam Finz ever came to Lovettsville. In 2005, Walker asked Finz to help out in town. From that point forward, Finz worked as Lovettsville’s interim town manager on three separate occasions and as a consultant, in which role he helped to hire the town’s first three town managers ever. Finz also helped to strengthen the town’s financial standing and actively promoted the fiscal policy.
And it was during Walker’s term as mayor that former three-term Mayor Bob Zoldos, who succeeded Walker in 2012, got the idea to have the Town Council pass more proclamations naming days for important people around town.
Walker and her late husband, Cliff, were also involved with the Lovettsville Fire and Rescue Company for decades; Cliff was an original member of the rescue squad, which formed in 1966, and Elaine joined the auxiliary when it formed two years later.
Current Mayor Nate Fontaine said Walker spent years helping to make Lovettsville the town it is today, by ensuring that as it grew, the small-town feel was maintained.
“That’s really what Elaine was most known for … those relationships she built with people,” Fontaine said, noting that Walker was a “wealth of information and knowledge” who was persistent in making sure that she was heard. “Western Loudoun’s lost a huge advocate and a huge supporter.”
Zoldos echoed Fontaine’s thoughts on how Walker helped to shape the town, adding that it’s impossible to think about Lovettsville without thinking about Walker. He noted that before Finz hired the first town manager, Walker acted simultaneously in that role, working 50- to 60-hour weeks to run the town.
“She was a full-time mayor,” he said.
Zoldos said Walker’s mentorship wore off on him and made him a more effective mayor. He said he hopes residents for generations to come will know why the pavilion on the town green is named for Walker—a designation the town leadership made in 2013.
“What a big loss it is for the town,” he said. “Those shoes cannot be filled.”
Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance said Walker’s tireless leadership epitomized public service at its best.
“Mayor Walker was not only an advocate for her hometown, she was a strong leader on behalf of the people across all of Loudoun and was especially instrumental in fostering a unified voice for the seven towns in the county. She was an inspiration and will be sorely missed,” Vance said.
Bob Lazaro worked closely with Walker when he served as Purcellville’s mayor. “It was a pleasure to serve in office with Mayor Walker during my public service in Purcellville. She was a great elected official who loved her community which in turn loved her back. She was truly an institution in Loudoun. My sincere condolences to Elaine’s family on their loss. She now joins her beloved husband Cliff in heaven,” Lazaro said.
Fred George, another Lovettsville native and the president of the Lovettsville Game Protective Association, posted on Facebook that Walker was “a loving and kind woman” whose “heart was in her town.” George wrote that Walker led the town through a growth spurt that was not “out of proportion” and that she was key to the construction of the Squirkle—a resident nickname for the road system that directs northbound and southbound Rt. 287 traffic around the Town Square.
“Elaine knew when the town built out on the north side people needed a safe way to cross [Route] 287,” George wrote.
Fontaine said the Town Council would pass a proclamation honoring Walker and host some sort of event that “signifies a celebration of her life” once social distancing mandates are loosened more.
Walker is survived by her three daughters—Debbie, Linda and Carol—and her grandson, Brandon.