At Volunteer Fairfax we love all of our volunteers. But there is a special place in our hearts for these two gentlemen. Both are military veterans. Both are dedicated family men. Both are busy retirees. Both are looooong-time volunteers with Volunteer Fairfax.
Meet Bing Van Nuys:The son of a prominent lawyer, Francis Bingham Van Nuys grew up and attended Washington & Lee University as geology major. Two days before graduation, he enrolled in law school. As a rising senior, he went on a blind date and met his future bride, Betty…and proposed 5 weeks later! Post graduation and with the need to support a new wife, Bing enrolled in Naval Officer Candidate School in 1962. With candor, Bing says, “It (NOCS) was hell.” Many flunked out. But Bing said he “…had to succeed” and so he did, earning a Commission of Lt, jg. He requested assignment “anywhere out west” and was sent to USNS Kodiak, Alaska, where he served as base legal officer and where, during the Great Alaska Earthquake, he escaped death twice in one evening! Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Van Nuys welcomed a son and a daughter. Bing was discharged from active service in 1966 swearing never to darken the door of the government again but then took on a series of Federal Civil Servant positions AND remained in the Navy Reserves staying another 21 years! Commander Van Nuys fully in the early 90’s. One day Bing walked into the VF bungalow looking for “something to do” and he has never left. That was 1993. There were 4 people on staff. Bing became our “computer guy” designing programs for VF and supporting the ACS (Alternative Community Service) program. Bing also volunteers at the National Archives, and is a Virginia certified mediator. He drives a super cool, fully-restored ’73 VW bug and is a mad skier. Leisurely retirement? Not in Bing’s vocabulary.
Meet Don Brown: He was born in new London, Ct, but the Brown family home moved often. His father was a Naval submarine officer in the Pacific WWII and spent his career from 1934-68 serving his county. There were 3 boys and 1 girl in the family and “we were a handful.” Don went to Bowdoin College (ME) where he majored in economics. In 1963, he took a job as management trainee at Casco Bank. After a year at the bank, Don decided the military would be a “better fit” with “more meaning” but he didn’t want “to work for my father” (meaning Navy) so he joined the Army. He spent 1964 in Okinawa with Army Civil Affairs but it didn’t take long before he decided to get home and marry his high school prom date, Michael Ann. In 1965, while based in Okinawa, Don was sent to Vietnam where they showered when it rained, lived for months on rice and ketchup. In 1969, Don was again “in country” (Chu Lai, Vietnam) with tactical communications duties. Navy cruisers sometimes fired over their heads and one day the Navy drove into the phone lines knocking out communication. Don was called in front of the colonel. “You couldn’t tell him it wasn’t your fault…it was always your fault.” Don spent the rest of his military career in various locations including New Jersey, Hawaii, Korea, Norfolk, and Washington DC/Ft. Belvoir. They sent him to school to study engineering, computers and communications. When asked how he felt about the Vietnam War, with some tenseness in his jaw, he said he is “disturbed about the way it ended.” Don retired in 1992 and he and Michael Ann took up residence in the Falls Church house they had purchased some years before. He was immediately offered a civilian job. “No, thanks!” But, he was determined to do something when he saw a notice in the paper about Volunteer Fairfax. So he walked in one day and asked “What can I do?” Since then Don has diligently served the Alternative Community Service program, supported our events, and even opened his home hosting a VF holiday party.
When asked separately why they stay with Volunteer Fairfax, Don and Bing’s answers were very similar…it’s the people! “Great people!” “All have been wonderful!” “People have come and gone but there hasn’t been a bad one!”
We are so grateful to Bing and Don, and others like them, who continue to give — long into their golden years — when it could be said that they have given enough. Don and Bing say volunteering keeps them young! To stay young in your golden years, contact Nadia with the RSVP the 55+ volunteer program at firstname.lastname@example.org.