- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

Martha Pennino, 86, ex-Fairfax supervisor

Martha Virginia Pennino, a former vice chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, died Sept. 17 of complications from Parkinson’s disease at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She was 86.

Mrs. Pennino, one of the longest-serving members of the board, with 24 years of service, was known to some residents as “Mother Fairfax.”

She was elected to three terms on the Vienna Town Council, serving twice as vice mayor before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1967 to represent what was then known as the Centreville District. She held the position of vice chairwoman for 16 consecutive years.

Mrs. Pennino, a Democrat, helped establish the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission and the Embry Rucker shelter. She had provided cots in her office for the homeless before the shelter opened.

In 1994, the board renamed the county’s Human Services Center in her honor.

She also helped develop the planned community of Reston.

She was born in Roanoke. She received a bachelor’s degree from Emerson College in Boston.

In her lifetime, 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.

She was the president and first vice president of the Virginia Association of Counties, president of the Virginia Municipal League, and president, chairwoman and board member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Mrs. Pennino also sat on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University.

In 1985, Mrs. Pennino won the Tom Bradley Regional Leadership Award from the National Association of Regional Councils for 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.”

Most recently Mrs. Pennino served on the board of Fairfax Water, formerly the Fairfax County Water Authority.

Survivors include three daughters, Bonita Pennino of Fairfax County, Angela Curly of Larkspur, Calif., and Donna Howard of Honolulu; and a son, Walt “Penney” Pennino of Fredericksburg, Va.

Mrs. Pennino will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery near her husband, Walter A. Pennino Sr., a former Army lieutenant colonel.

Memorial donations may be made in her memory to the George Mason University Foundation Inc., 4400 Fairfax Drive, MS1A3, Fairfax, VA 22030.

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