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ArlingtonFiscal watchdog, nature-center booster Bostwick dies at 81

Fiscal watchdog, nature-center booster Bostwick dies at 81

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Burt Bostwick was a man who believed the Arlington County government could simultaneously provide ample services while keeping spending in check.

Active in a host of roles through the years with the Arlington County Civic Federation, Bostwick was a voice that acknowledged there could be benefits to an expansive local government, but that it needed to be achieved without breaking the bank – or the backs of local taxpayers.

Bostwick died Nov. 23 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 81 years old.

“Burt was a rare, kind, patient and brilliant soul,” said former Civic Federation president Stefanie Pryor. “He served as one of the most polite watchdogs on our Arlington County budget. Arlington has lost a wonderful man.”


“Always a gentleman with a ready smile and a quick wit, for over 20 years Burt was generous with his time, always offering to lend a hand when help was needed,” said Suzanne Smith Sundburg, who also is active with the Civic Federation and penned an appreciation for its newsletter.

Bostwick had several roles with the Civic Federation, including secretary and member and chair of the executive committee (now the board of directors). But it was probably his service on the federation’s Revenues & Expenditures Committee, including chairing it from 2005 to 2008, that made Bostwick part of the community conversation over county-government priorities.

The Revenues & Expenditures Committee traditionally has favored a more conservative approach to government budgeting, often through the years calling for tax-rate cuts when appropriate and pushing, successfully, for semi-autonomous auditor positions to be created for the county government and school system.

Bostwick represented the Old Glebe Civic Association at the Civic Federation. Last year, he was honored by then-federation president Allan Gajadhar for his years of service.

“I relied on your counsel,” Gajadhar said, referring to both Bostwick and Michael Beer, a longtime chair of the federation’s education committee who also was stepping away from a leadership post that year.

“It’s been a long and interesting time,” Bostwick said then of his tenure, promising that “I’ll be keeping an eye on the county budget as well as the Civic Federation budget.”

While Bostwick’s civic endeavors included budget issues, his civic heart remained in a natural surrounding. He helped to co-found Friends of Gulf Branch Nature Center, serving both as president and treasurer in recent years. (Donations in Bostwick’s memory to Friends of Gulf Branch Nature Center can be made. For information, contact Duke Banks at duke.banks@gmail.com.)

Burton Lane Bostwick was born on Sept. 16, 1941, in Baltimore. Upon graduation from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1963, he attended the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. After active-duty service in the Navy, he worked for the Overseas Private Investment Corp. for 30 years before retiring in 1997.

Bostwick met his future wife, Mary Lynne Reinkober, while he was assigned to the Naval Communication Station in Norfolk in the 1960s. Their 55-year union produced two daughters, Lynne and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be held on Jan. 14 at noon at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church. Funeral arrangements are by Advent Funeral Home in Falls Church.

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