Guest Post: A Tribute to Bob Simon

On today’s one year anniversary of the passing of Reston’s founder Robert E. Simon, many of us are looking back on his extraordinary life with fond memories. One Restonian, journalist Mark Hoover, shares with us his thoughts on the relationships he has developed here in Reston and his gratitude to Bob Simon.


Friends Mark, Mikey, Thomas, and Joey (photo courtesy of Mark Hoover)

A Tribute to Bob Simon

Guest Post by Mark Hoover

Today marks one year from when eponymous Reston founder Robert E. Simon passed. My heart heavy, even having met the man only once, I remember him with great passion.

Growing up in McLean, Reston was simply the place where I was born. As I grew older, though, it would serve as a cornerstone for who I am.

I find it difficult to write about Reston without writing about my own life. Maybe that’s a Millennial shortcoming, but given the relationships I’ve built over the years, I’ve found great value in the individuality that this town crafts in people. Reston would not be as great without those of us who are lucky enough to live here.

I met one of my best friends, Mikey, in fifth grade. He was one of the “new kids” that year, so I wanted to reach out to this tall stranger and be his friend to help his transition into a new environment. Mikey was from Reston; he had just transferred from Lake Anne Elementary, a rock’s throw from where he lived.

Soon after befriending Mikey, I’d be invited over to his parents condominium off North Shore Drive. We’d spend our days walking around, to and from the Hidden Creek golf course, through the many paths between condos and houses, through the woods, through everywhere. I’d tilt my head and be taken with it all. I was struck even as a young boy with how architecturally profound this town is.

This was years before I’d take dates to Lake Anne and show them how stunning Reston was. This was years before meeting Thomas, another best friend, another “Restonite,” with whom Mikey and I would film many movies using Reston and its myriad communities as a backdrop. If you wanted a city scene, you had it; a forest scene, you had it. A lake scene? You had five (and then some).

Not to forget Joey, the dearest friend I have, with whom I’d spend countless nights wandering around Reston’s many attractions, meeting new friends, enjoying meals, breathing in the air. He and I would be less if it weren’t for this town. We might have atrophied if it weren’t for how many opportunities we had to just experience life together here.

Last year, I’d finally meet the father of Reston, Bob Simon, as he walked around his Lake Anne. Bob appeared to be marveling at it all, probably knowing that this special place, his place, fostered relationships that will never die—relationships that will impact my children (when they arrive), relationships that will cause my kids to want similar relationships in their lives. Unbreakable ones. Ones founded in an extraordinary place.

Weeks later was one year ago today, the day Bob passed. I do regret not telling him how impacted I’ve been by his marvelous town. But something tells me I didn’t need to. It’s not that he could magically tell from our short interaction; it’s that a place that you’d opt to build and grow old in is surely a place that’s worth more than words can say.

I’d like to end this with a list of Reston’s core tenants:

  1. That the widest choice of opportunities be made available for the full use of leisure time. This means that the New Town should provide a wide range of cultural and recreational facilities as well as an environment for privacy.
  2. That it be possible for anyone to remain in a single neighborhood throughout his life, uprooting being neither inevitable nor always desirable. By providing the fullest range of housing styles and prices – from high-rise efficiencies to 6-bedroom townhouses and detached houses – housing needs can be met at a variety of income levels and at different stages of family life. This kind of mixture permits residents to remain rooted in the community if they so choose – as their particular housing needs change. As a by-product, this also results in the heterogeneity that spells a lively and varied community.
  3. That the importance and dignity of each individual be the focal point for all planning, and take precedence for large-scale concepts.
  4. That the people be able to live and work in the same community.
  5. That commercial, cultural and recreational facilities be made available to the residents from the outset of the development – not years later.
  6. That beauty – structural and natural – is a necessity of the good life and should be fostered.
  7. Since Reston is being developed from private enterprise, in order to be completed as conceived it must also, of course, be a financial success.

Contemplating my story of Reston, Bob nailed it.

Cheers to you, Bob. You built the city that’s after my own heart. I cannot thank you enough, and you are very missed, but you do live on in us, and in our Reston.

You can follow Mark Hoover on his local food blog Peripheral Chew or @peripheralchew on Instagram.

Would you like to share your own thoughts on Reston? We love guest posts and strive to make this website a voice for the community. Please contact us at [email protected] with your ideas. We’d be happy to hear from you.

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