Ben Lomond Community Center Renamed for Local Activist

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Provided by Prince William County

Pat White

Pat White

​People say Pat White was a woman who knew how to get things done. One of the things she wanted done in the early 1970s was to turn the old Sudley Barn, at 10501 Copeland Drive in Manassas, into a community center. As president of the Westgate Women’s Club, White led the effort to organize the “Save the Barn” campaign with the goal of saving the historic dairy barn and turning it into a community center.

In October, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously to endorse the renaming of the Ben Lomond Community Center to the Pat White Community Center at Ben Lomond.

At the recent renaming ceremony, Prince William Supervisor Pete Candland said White, who was instrumental in getting the community center built, contributed to making Prince William County “a wonderful place to live.”

A newspaper article from the Manassas Journal Messenger, written in 1971, stated that the three acres of prime real estate where the barn sat was slated for town houses. White, who saw the barn as a place where “young people could gather and meet” organized a weekend petition drive, which gathered more than 2,000 signatures. The signatures persuaded the then Prince William Board of County Supervisors to call for a feasibility study to save the structure and turn it into a community gathering place.

When the barn proved to be structurally unsalvageable, White led the voters to approve a $300,000 bond referendum to build a new Ben Lomond Community Center. PWL The community center opened in 1974.

Candland said White was an example of someone who worked to make the community a better place. “Prince William County would not be this wonderful place if it weren’t for the hard work of such people like Pat White. Time will not forget her because now we have the opportunity to name this building after her to commemorate the work that she’s done. Pat White is a testament to what one dedicated individual can do for a community. Her passion and commitment to the Manassas area resulted in a community center that has been a valuable resource for the area for over 40 years.”

At the renaming ceremony, Prince William Supervisor John D. Jenkins said White was so active in the community that she was a “de facto” supervisor because of community service that extended beyond the work she did to save the barn. “I am here today to bring to you, from the rest of my colleagues on the board, this tribute to Pat White. She was a dear friend and her legacy lives on in her children and her husband; and I am just proud to be here to help pay tribute to her today.”

Pat White’s husband, Don White, a former Gainesville District Supervisor, also spoke at the ceremony and said he was “really blessed to be married to a woman like Pat.”

Pat White held dozens of positions on various local and statewide committees and boards between 1971 and 1999. Among other things, Pat White was a member of the Prince William Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, a news reporter for WPRW – a local AM radio station, a reporter and editor of several community newsletters and a contributing columnist for the now defunct Potomac News. Pat White also served many years as a member of the Prince William Chapter of the American Red Cross and as an aide to State Senator Charles J. Colgan. She was also chairman of the Prince William Electoral Board.

“Every position that she held was always geared to public service and serving someone else; and she had a great leadership ability,” Don White said. “She was a visionary. She could look at something and know how she wanted to approach it and what the end result was going to be.”

In preparing his comments for the ceremony, Don White said he came across some of the notes his wife wrote to herself and one of the notes was a quote by Norman Vincent Peale, which said, “It’s always too early to quit.”

“That was her,” Don White said.

 

 

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