- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Robert S. Reiss, an educator and co-founder of the private Fairfax-Brewster School in Baileys Crossroads, died of pulmonary failure Sept. 29 at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He was 81.

Born April 17, 1925, in the District, Mr. Reiss honed his early skills in sculpting, painting and drawing using the Indians of South Dakota as models.

He attended Georgia Military Academy and Randolph Macon Military School, and graduated from Washington and Lee High School before enlisting in the Marines.

After completing basic training at Parris Island, S.C., Mr. Reiss served in the Pacific until the end of World War II. He was sought out by his commanding general in response to a poem written by Mr. Reiss’ father to his son, which had been printed in U.S. newspapers and spotted by the general’s mother.

After the war, Mr. Reiss obtained a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University while he pursued his interests in art by illustrating Red Cross safety manuals on boating and other topics.

He was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity and well-known for his quick wit and sense of humor. He also was a registered member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants and the Sons of the American Revolution.

In 1950, Mr. Reiss married his college sweetheart, Olga Marge Havell, and took up residence in McLean.

He briefly pursued a career in commercial art, but joined his father in founding the Fairfax-Brewster School in 1957.

Mr. Reiss served as the school’s principal for 31 years, until his retirement in 1988.

The school provided a classical education to thousands of Northern Virginia elementary children in a historic setting. It was built on the site of Civil War skirmishes that inspired the penning of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe in 1861.

Survivors include his wife, Olga, of Falls Church; a daughter, Janet M. Johnson of Falls Church; a brother, Keith W. Reiss of Fairfax; and a grandson.


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