In honor of service to the Arlington community in the judiciary that is coming to an end with his retirement, the Sun Gazette reprints this article from November 2010, when Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge George Varoutsos was honored with the William T. Newman Jr. Spirit of Community Award by the Arlington Community Foundation.
With the exception of seven years spent in undergraduate studies and law school at the University of Richmond, George Varoutsos has lived his entire life in Arlington.
“I’ve come a long way – I’ve moved across Glebe Road,” Varoutsos joked as he was presented with the William T. Newman Jr. Spirit of Community Award by the Arlington Community Foundation at a ceremony Nov. 18 at the Sheraton National Hotel.
The packed Galaxy Ballroom included professional colleagues, personal friends and even Varoutsos’s 91-year-old mother, who still lives in the house in which she raised her family.
“I’m proud to be an Arlingtonian,” Varoutsos said. “Arlington has been a great place to grow up . . . and if you’re a grown-up, it’s a great place, too.”
Varoutsos has served for the past 12 years as a judge on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and has won acclaim as a protector and advocate for children and families.
“You can see the type of person George is, being an advocate not only for the kids, but for improving the administration of justice,” said longtime friend and fellow attorney Jonathan Kinney.
Kinney cited what he called Varoutsos’ two legal passions: working with teenage drivers getting their first licenses, and support of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, which trains laypeople to work one-on-one with children and appear in court on their behalf.
(Kinney also could not help but kid a bit, noting that few other judges would put “attended last 20 Super Bowls” as a citation on their résumés, but that sports nut Varoutsos has it on his – and then wondering aloud why a judge needed a résumé, anyway.)
The Spirit of Community Award has been presented since 1993, and several years ago was renamed to honor Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman Jr., who founded the Arlington Community Foundation.
Newman said Varoutsos had “shown leadership and made significant contributions” to his hometown.
“He is truly a worthy recipient – he has done much to make Arlington a better place,” Newman said.
The event’s keynote speaker was Justice Charles Russell, who served on the Virginia Supreme Court from 1982 to 1991 and continues to hear cases as a senior justice. Although he no longer lives in the county, Russell, too, has deep ties to Arlington, having practiced law in Arlington from 1951 until 1967, when he was elected by the General Assembly to the Circuit Court covering Arlington and Falls Church.
Russell gave a lively history of the county and its judiciary, and spoke of the late Paul Varoutsos – George Varoutsos’s father and a noted local attorney himself.
“He’s looking down today, beaming, and he has every right to,” Russell told the day’s honoree. “You’ve certainly earned the applause.”
Russell noted that Arlington has a long tradition of high-quality judges, dating back to the legendary Circuit Court Judge Walter McCarthy. “He was the finest judge and one of the finest men I’ve ever known,” Russell noted.
Varoutsos noted that he’d learned much from his predecessors and contemporaries on the bench, particularly those who treated all who come before them with respect.
“If you learn right when you start out, it will carry you through your career,” he said.
“If you enjoy what you do and you’re trying to help people, even when you’re not going to be able to solve their problems, you really feel good about what you do,” Varoutsos said. “I look forward to coming to work every day.”