The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Community Leader Remembered

Community Leader Remembered

Highlighting the contributions and dedication of Kerry Donley to Alexandria as Mayor, Athletic Director and community leader

Emily Milton

Editor

On Thanksgiving Day 2022, at the annual Alexandria City Turkey Trot, late former mayor and ACHS (then- T.C. Williams) Athletic Director Kerry Donley was honored as his family served as Grand Marshals. Donley passed away unexpectedly in July of this year, and this event was just the latest effort to pay respect to this community leader.

In 1988, Donley began his political career in Alexandria after working in the banking industry. He was elected to City Council, then to Vice Mayor, in 1994, eventually rising to the position of Mayor in 1996. After his two terms, he ran for City Council again in 2009, becoming Vice Mayor once again, and eventually, in 2015, challenging incumbent Mayor William “Bill” Euille and Allison Silberberg for the mayoral position. Both he and Euille lost. 

“He was a political animal. He was energized by people and the political process,” said current Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. Wilson also ran for City Council in 2009 and remembered Donley’s contagious spirit. “I was coming [to an event, and Donley] was arriving, and I remember running into him in the parking lot, and he was so pumped up and I was exhausted. He was so energized; he was raised in politics.”

Wilson attributes a lot of what “modern Alexandria” is to Donley. “He was a pretty bold leader at a time where Alexandria was making a transition from a sleepy community [to] being a thriving city. He was a key leader in that transition between old and new.”  

Wilson described Donley as a “very strong personality.” Donley would fill rooms, Wilson said, and immediately “see a decision that needed to be made and help drive people toward a decision.” 

Former ACHS Principal and recipient of the Alexandria Living Legend award John Porter says that Donley was “instrumental” in the Witter Field Complex construction on Duke Street. “He worked to insure that the diversity of our community was both represented and embraced… with a direct focus on our neighbors in need.”

Wilson echoed these sentiments. “He always had a mix of being someone who was looking out for those in need and being pragmatic. It made him beloved, even from those who didn’t agree on policy. They appreciated that he could articulate [what needed to happen].” 

Even after he left public office, Donley remained steadfast to contributing to the community. “Serving [in] elected office is an [all] consuming thing,” said Wilson. “People tend to slow down… and Kerry didn’t do that. He was out of elected office for a long time, and he continued to serve on boards and commissions.”

Donley served as ACHS High School Athletic Director from 2005 to 2008. He was heavily involved in all things school sports, especially supporting his children who were student athletes themselves. “Kerry’s work as Athletic Director was a natural position for him. I imagine he still holds the record for [highest] attendance at high school games/events played at Minnie Howard,” said Porter. “I believe basketball was his first sports love.” 

In an Alexandria Times article written at the time of his death, Donley himself is quoted from a Father’s Day letter: “Your job going forward is to use your talents and your values to contribute to society… to live your lives recognizing that the world around you will be better because of you.”

Between dedicating years to serving and developing the Alexandria community and dedicating time to spend with his wife and 5 daughters, Donley, as Wilson said, “personified Alexandria.” 

The City of Alexandria has certainly benefited from the efforts of Mr. Donley and the legacy he left behind. 

Featured photo by Emily Milton for Theogony.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Theogony

Your donation will support the student journalists of Alexandria City High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Theogony

Comments (0)

All Theogony Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Community Leader Remembered