Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ellen M. Bozman -My Great Aunt

Ellen M. Bozman
An intrepid champion of intelligent governance (My Great Aunt)

Saturday, January 10, 2009; Page A12 (The Washing Post)
ARLINGTON County has been blessed over the years with talented and knowledgeable leaders who have contributed mightily to its reputation as a home of good government. Longtime residents speak fondly of "the Arlington Way" -- a tradition of clean, progressive civic activism that has guided the county from its days as a serene rural outpost of the capital to its emergence as a smoothly run center of attractive urban-suburban living. In the forefront of those who led this "Way" was Ellen M. Bozman, an immensely popular public figure well beyond the county's borders. Ms. Bozman, who died Thursday at the age of 83, served six terms as chairman of the Arlington County Board during her more than four decades of tireless community activity.

Heavy homework -- a zeal for exploring complicated issues -- was Ms. Bozman's valuable trademark on the county board and in the region's neighborhoods. She warned early on that air and water pollution were hazards that transcended jurisdictional lines and needed to be addressed through concerted metropolitan efforts. She was unfazed by the initial glazed looks and groaning yawns of many constituents hearing her recitations of facts and figures and her calls for government action.

With style, grace and a healthy dose of no-nonsense tutoring, Ms. Bozman would open constituents' eyes to the importance and intricacies of housing policies, education, mass transit, health and welfare programs, and the need for after-school activities for children with working parents.

In the 1950s and later as president of the Arlington League of Women Voters, Ms. Bozman was a strong supporter of desegregating the county's public schools -- flying in the face of the fierce "massive resistance" efforts that were poisoning the air elsewhere in the Old Dominion. Serving on the County Board from 1974 to 1997, she embellished her civic expertise by taking on posts with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and numerous civic boards. Until her death, Ms. Bozman was an active board member for the Arlington Community Foundation, which she helped create in the early 1990s to raise money for college scholarships and nonprofit organizations.

The evolution of Arlington County remains a demographic work in progress, but so much of what is in place today for tomorrow's residents -- the rich inheritance of the Arlington Way -- came thanks to the exceptional contributions of Ellen Bozman.

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