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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
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Page updated Aug 1, 2008 9:14 AM
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April 28, 2008       

Former Alexandria City Councilwoman Ellen Pickering Dies

Frances Ellen Pickering, former Alexandria City Councilwoman, died on Saturday, April 26, at the age of 78. Mrs. Pickering, who was born in Dallas, Texas, grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, and moved with her husband and family from Fairfield, Connecticut, to Alexandria in 1962.

Mrs. Pickering, a long-time City activist, first gained recognition for her lobbying efforts that, more than 30 years ago, helped to create the Mount Vernon Trail between Alexandria and Washington. An active preservationist and conservationist, she was deeply committed to preserving and enhancing the City's waterfront. She urged the adoption of the City’s Open Space Plan, lobbied to preserve Founder’s Park and protect it from high-rise development, and implemented the planting of 1,000 citizen-donated cherry trees during her tenure as chair of the Alexandria Beautification Commission.

Mrs. Pickering was elected to City Council as an independent, serving for one term between 1976 and 1979. She also served on numerous City boards and commissions, including the Alexandria Beautification Commission, the Alexandria Sanitation Authority, the Ad Hoc Committee on Potomac Yard, the Potomac Greens Task Force, and the Open Space Steering Committee. She also chaired the Northern Virginia Conservation Council for many years. She won two Salute to Women Awards from the City’s Commission on Women; she was also an active member of the League of Women Voters and the Alexandria chapter of the American Association of University Women.

Her husband, Harlan D. Pickering, died in 1979. Mrs. Pickering is survived by three children, David, Duff, and Frances (a fourth child, Paula, passed away in 2000), and by three grandchildren. The Pickerings lived in Rosemont for many years and in 1992, Mrs. Pickering moved to Roberts Lane.

“We all mourn the loss of Mrs. Ellen Pickering, a cherished member of our community who dedicated her life to improving and enhancing the quality of life in our City,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “She was a driving force behind many of the policies and accomplishments that have helped to make Alexandria a unique and beautiful community. She dedicated her life to the City—through her service on the City Council; her work as chair of the City’s Beautification Commission and Sanitation Authority; her fervent advocacy for preserving the City’s historic architecture; and her tenacity as a tireless defender of the City’s environmental treasures. I extend my deepest personal condolences to her family during this difficult time.”

A funeral Mass for Mrs. Pickering will be held on Thursday, May 1, at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, 310 S. Royal St.