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FairfaxBusinessLate Vienna leader lauded for boosting economic development

Late Vienna leader lauded for boosting economic development

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The late Town Business Liaison Committee (TBLC) chairman Robert Leggett bolstered local businesses and helped the committee navigate its emerging role after the town hired its first economic-development manager, Vienna leaders said.

A U.S. Coast Guard veteran who later became an analyst and senior executive at the Central Intelligence Agency, Leggett died of chronic lymphoma leukemia July 16 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He was 80.

“He actively helped connect struggling businesses with resources to help them survive COVID-related economic hardship, and that made all the difference to their survival,” said Mayor Linda Colbert.

Born Sept. 16, 1941, in Nanticoke, Pa., to the late Lester and Faith Leggett, Robert Leggett became president of his class at Catasauqua High School in Pennsylvania and later graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

According to his family, he was vice president of his Coast Guard class, broke the basketball scoring record and pitched the only no-hitter in the academy’s history.

He was inducted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and named the “Distinguished Alumnus” at his 50th reunion in 2013.

On his third assignment as a Coast Guard officer, Leggett was commanding officer of an 82-foot-long Coast Guard cutter as part of Operation Market Time, a long-running operation in the Vietnam War that aimed to prevent North Vietnamese forces from sending troops, supplies and war material into South Vietnam using rivers, the ocean and coast. He later received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V.

Following his service in Vietnam, Leggett enrolled at Lehigh University, where he received a Ph.D. in economics. While pursuing his graduate degrees, he coached basketball at Lehigh University and taught economics at Lehigh and at Lafayette College.

His work at the CIA initially focused on the economy and military capability of the Soviet Union. He later served as the liaison officer of congressional affairs, deputy national intelligence officer for global and multilateral issues, and academic coordinator.

After retiring from the CIA, he worked as a program manager at consulting firms and as a consultant for the intelligence community and law-enforcement agencies.

The Vienna Town Council appointed Leggett to the TBLC in 2017 and he became its chairman three years later.

“Bob cared deeply about the business community,” said Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou. “He understood the value of the TBLC’s institutional knowledge, and he made it a point to foster collaboration between the TBLC and the Economic Development Office to problem-solve and to define emerging roles.”

Leggett was “truly a Vienna town treasure and asset” who enjoyed attending grand openings of new businesses, said Peggy James, executive director of the Vienna Business Association.

Leggett always was enthused to bestow the Carole Wolfand Community Service Award to a civic-minded local business at the annual Mayor’s Volunteer Recognition event, she said.

During the past two years, Leggett championed mentorships between local businesses and high-school students through the WINGS program at James Madison High School, James said.

“He was very dedicated to bringing opportunities to young people in an effort to help them find their paths in life through local work opportunities,” she said.

Mayor Colbert said her relationship with Leggett went beyond a mere focus on town-governance topics.

“I enjoyed talking and laughing with Bob about various topics and I think we really enjoyed each other’s company,” she said. “He was a good man, and I will miss him dearly.”
Leggett coached and managed many Vienna Little League and Vienna and McLean Youth Basketball teams.

He was married to Carol (Burkholder) Leggett for 57 years. She worked at The Washington Post for 38 years and was executive assistant to famed editor Ben Bradlee for 25 of those years.

Leggett was predeceased by his brother George and son Greg Leggett. He is survived by his wife; daughter Beth Sokohl of Gettysburg, Pa.; son Chris Leggett of Vienna; and grandchildren Tucker, Ella and Greysen Leggett.

Services will be held July 22 at 11 a.m. at Vienna Presbyterian Church, followed by a reception at Westwood Country Club in Vienna.

Donations may be made to the Bob Leggett Memorial Fund, 127 Center Street, South, Vienna, Va. 22180, which will be used for projects in Vienna that Leggett had supported. For more information, visit www.viennava.gov/LeggettMemorial.

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