In Memoriam

In fond memory of those Board Members that are no longer with us.

Bob Heittman

May 19, 1937 — May 10, 2004

It was inevitable that a highly motivated individual like Bob Heittman would wind up in Franconia at a time when history was changing rapidly and needed one more advocate for positive community change. Bob and his wife Elaine and young son settled in Windsor Park off Beulah Street in 1975. Over the next 29 years, he would be a positive force in community improvements and growth, working with Supervisor Joseph Alexander and a host of other hard-working community leaders who helped maintain Franconia and Lee District as vibrant, convenient and comfortable places in which to live despite explosive growth.  A native of Massachusetts, Bob joined the Air Force and served for 21 years. A self-made expert, Bob worked as a graphic designer for Air Force Intelligence at the Pentagon as both a member of the military and a civilian over a career that spanned 42 years. His many friends say Bob really earned his wings in the Franconia community. Each transportation issue that surfaced saw Supervisor Alexander impressing his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors with maps and charts prepared by Bob. They often had questions, but few suggestions for improvement.  Why he even helped VDOT explain the intricacies of the complicated mixing bowl at Springfield. So much so that the bridge carrying traffic from the Beltway portion of I-95 to the continuation of I-95 South was named in his honor. A replica of the sign naming the bridge for Bob is located in the Franconia Museum.  Speaking of the Museum, Bob was one of the founders in 2001, just a few short years before his untimely death. Many of Bob’s accomplishments are hidden by transportation designs and construction.  More await funding before they come to fruition. In the meantime, Bob’s legacy and love for Franconia lives on at the Museum. He would appreciate it if your travels would take you to the Franconia Government Center and the Museum. After all, he spent many hours there advising the Lee District Supervisor, County staff and VDOT as well as working with highly effective civic organizations. He is survived by his wife, who returned to her home state of Minnesota where she married a young Air Force enlisted man in 1959 and started the to travels that led to Canada, Texas and North Carolina before settling in Virginia. They have one son, Robert Sean Heittman. He and his wife Alison live in Williamsburg.

Herbert Anderson (Andy) Higham

December 27, 1942 — March 30, 2012

In his own quiet way, Andy Higham epitomized the core of Franconia. He valued his family, his church and his community with a dedication that sometimes is lost in today’s hustle and bustle of just trying to keep things together. Andy was always together, whether it be as a husband, father, businessman or supporter of his community. The Highams already were an institution in Franconia by the time Andy was born, the second son of William and Dorothy Anderson Higham. He and his older brother Bill, Jr., continued in their dad’s footsteps in the construction and painting business. Both would be high school football stars, Bill at Annandale and Andy at Lee when it first opened. Andy would meet his future wife Jane Devine, at Lee. After he graduated from what is now Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W. Va., they settled in Franconia and raised three daughters, Suzanne, Julie and Jennifer. Andy served as president of the Franconia Rotary and was a vestryman at historic Olivet Episcopal Church. He was instrumental in organizing and coaching youth sports in Franconia. He joined the Franconia Museum Board of Directors in 2004 and later coaxed Jane into taking over as the Museum’s treasurer in 2006. For a number of years, Andy was the volunteer chef for the Museum’s annual History Day, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs was part the fund-raising food service that helped offset the cost of the program.  Some years back, Board member Carol Hakenson christened his culinary effort as “Andyburgers”, and the name immediately became a tribute to his effort, rain or shine, to make the day a success. Andy became ill and succumbed after a long battle with front temporal degeneration, a form of dementia. His services were conducted at the Jefferson Funeral Chapel in Franconia, one of his numerous commercial real estate projects. Andy’s footprints in Franconia are huge, and no member of the Museum’s Board of Directors will ever eat a hamburger again without thinking of him!

Betty Jean Plaugher Nalls


January 25, 1932 - April 1, 2012

When the Angels sing their Heavenly tunes, they will be accompanied by Betty Nalls on the organ….or the piano….or the accordion…..whatever Betty decides. And if the House of The Lord needs some repair work by her husband and master craftsman Buddy Nalls, he will be sure that Betty has arranged for all the materials, gotten all the permits  and scheduled the work. Betty died in her own home on Steinway Street in Franconia, just as Buddy had done less than a year earlier. Of course, Betty had prearranged both funerals.

Both were from well-known Franconia families.  Betty was popular for her outgoing spirit and personality that drew everyone to her. Buddy was a hard worker whose excellence is exhibited in many homes he either built or restored in the area. They are survived by three sons, Arthur, Jr., Cary and David, and eight grandchildren. Arthur, Jr., currently is in the real estate business in Washington, D.C., Cary runs Nalls Produce on Beulah Street across from his mom and dad’s home place, and David operates a produce business near Berryville, VA.

As a youngster, Betty was a dynamo who loved life to the fullest. Her parents owned Ward’s Corner, which had a restaurant, store, gas station, movie theatre and other businesses at Old Rolling Road and Franconia Road on land now occupies by three gas stations, a McDonalds, a skating rink and several businesses. She worked in the restaurant and the movie theatre, won many ribbons in local horse shows and later became an accomplished pianist and organist and studied interior decorating. The interest is music no doubt was fueled by the many country music performers who appeared at Ward’s Corner in the 1950s and 1960s.  Names like Roy Clarke, Grampa Jones, Jimmy Dean and the Stoneman Family graced the stage at Ward’s.

Betty was a member of the Franconia Museum Board of Directors. She also was an active member of the Franconia Lunch Bunch, a group of long-time residents who meet monthly to share memories of their community. She attended a lunch shortly before her death. Betty help the Museum collect stories, articles and artifacts from Franconia over the years. The family has helped perpetuate her and Buddy’s memories by sponsoring Volume VII of Franconia Remembers, a collection of books about the area’s history. The latest issue is focused on the Franconia Volunteer Fire Department.

Jacqueline 'Jac' Cooke Walker


Debbie Wilson

September 23, 1923 — November 7, 2009

Founder of the Franconia Museum

The Franconia Museum is greatly saddened by the death of Jacqueline 'Jac' Walker, our matriarch who helped establish the museum and continued to inspire all who knew her to learn the wonderful history of our area. The Board of Directors will continue Jac's passion for Franconia. Jac grew up here and never left. She attended the first classes in the current Franconia Elementary School, the last classes in old Lee Jackson High School  and the first classes in what was then the new Mount Vernon High School on Richmond Highway. June 2010 will mark the 70th anniversary of Mount Vernon's first graduating class. She served as secretary at Franconia Elementary. In later years, she coordinated the gathering of all things Franconia as the editor of the museum's book series, 'Franconia Remembers'. Read her recollections of the Cooke and Walker families in her own words in Volume IV. Recent months have been hard for Jac as she struggled to overcome cancer through a long series of treatments. She was able to attend the October gathering of her beloved 'Lunch Bunch' and the monthly Museum Board meeting. She is survived by her husband, Donald, who also has deep roots in Franconia, sons Kenny and Phillip and a daughter Pam. Another son, Mark, passed away last year.  Although Jac is gone, she will not be forgotten and her work will continue. She would like it very much if you would join the effort.

June 1, 1951 — April 10, 2016

Debbi lived in Franconia VA from 1951 until she moved to Centreville VA in 1990. She received her schooling in Franconia and was active in local Franconia activities all her life, including being a majorette for the Franconia Volunteer Fire Department, and serving on The Franconia Museum Board.

In addition to loving her local history, she loved art, music (especially the Blues), drag-racing (NHRA) and was always proud to tell you "I was at Woodstock and survived."

She worked in the Fairfax County Lee District Supervisors Office (in Franconia) for 28 years under The Honorable Joe Alexander and The Honorable Dana Kauffman and finished her working years between DTA and Channel 16 with Fairfax County.