Wayne and Angela Valis continued their philanthropic support of the Fairfax County Park Foundation in 2021 by donating more than $26,000 to the Stewardship Education Center (SEC) that will be built at Ellanor C Lawrence Park in Chantilly, VA.
The Stewardship Education Center is designed to be a “Living Building,” one of a few in the region and approximately 30 in the world! It will be sustainably designed to rely solely on renewable forms of energy and will operate year-round in a pollution free manner. It will be created from environmentally friendly materials and designed to be accessible to all regardless of ability, age, or socioeconomic status. The Valis’ donation will help fund the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) features in the educational Learning Observational Outdoor Pod (The LOOP). The STEAM learning pods will provide unique educational opportunities and the SEC programs will promote education for the restoration of natural areas on park land.
Prior to their donation to the Stewardship Education Center, Wayne and Angela Valis contributed significantly to the Pinecrest Golf Course in Alexandria. Nearly 60 years after his first visit here, he still celebrates a well-played shot with the exuberance of a lottery winner. “I got it in,” he cheered recently after sinking a 30-foot chip shot on the 9 th hole. “Did you see that?”
Valis first started playing here in 1957 with his father, a WWII veteran, and his brother. At that time, Pinecrest was a privately owned course situated on what used to be farmland. “It’s the only place my father could afford to have a family outing that wouldn’t break the bank,” he said. Years later, Valis donated original, framed scorecards to Pinecrest as well as memorabilia from the course’s grand reopening as a Fairfax County Park Authority course on May 18, 1986. “They opened that first day with 1957 prices,” he recalled. “Hot dogs were 25 cents. Soft drinks were 15 cents, and a round of golf was a couple of dollars.”
Valis has come a long way since his modest, middle-class upbringing near Bailey’s Crossroads. As a successful businessman, he owns homes and has played the game on iconic courses across the globe, including golf’s birthplace, St. Andrews, Scotland. Yet, he returns to his roots with such fondness recalling the friendships he made on this course, the memories he shared with his daughter, Maura, as he introduced her to golf at Pinecrest, and the life lessons the game taught him – lessons that have served him well throughout his career.
“No sport reveals character more than golf,” Valis said, “and golf is a good game for business, politics, networking and for learning about a person’s character. You’re interacting with your playing partners 95% of the time, and you can tell how well someone deals with adversity and whether they’re honest.”
Valis courted his wife, Angela, on this golf course in the early 1990s where he noted some of her endearing qualities. “She was very sweet and got enjoyment just from the personal pleasure of making a great shot,” he said. Angela recalled what she admired about her husband during their 5 p.m. dates for nine holes of golf at Pinecrest. “He was very smart about course management, intelligent in decision making and had no temper tantrums on the golf course. He is always looking forward, and doesn’t focus too much on the past, and that’s what I’ve always admired about him.”
As the Valises look forward, they have a shared vision of ensuring that Fairfax County families can enjoy this course and other parks for generations to come. Together they are donating $50,000 to the Fairfax County Park Foundation to renovate the instructional area of the Pinecrest clubhouse and to build a much- needed picnic shelter at Burke Lake Park, where his grandchildren had so much fun riding the train. It’s the Valis’ way of giving back to a community that gave them heart. “I’ve had wonderful times here,” Valis said, “and I hope other people consider sending in a donation and take an interest in improving and preserving Fairfax County Parks.”