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ArlingtonRemembering Rich Doud, Arlington chamber president

Remembering Rich Doud, Arlington chamber president

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Rich Doud, who led the Arlington Chamber of Commerce for 23 years before his retirement in 2014, died Dec. 9, 2021, at Virginia Hospital Center.

Among Doud’s achievements during his service as top staffer at the business organization was creation of the Arlington Business Hall of Fame and Community Action Committee, and establishment of Leadership Arlington (now the Leadership Center for Excellence).

The following article, which ran in the Sun Gazette on June 12, 2014, covered Doud’s retirement celebration.

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Rich Doud figured that perhaps six people would show up for a going-away celebration held to mark his 23 years as head of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

His math skills were lacking, as about 150 turned out to the Fort Myer Officers’ Club May 29 to salute his tenure.

“I love this guy!” said local attorney Tim Hughes, who is serving as Chamber chairman in 2014 and oversaw the night’s proceedings.

Hughes praised Doud’s “warmth, generosity and humility,” which he said helped make Arlington the “really special place” that it is.

Doud announced in January he would be retiring from the job he has held since 1990.

“When Rich found the Chamber, he really found his niche,” said Bob Hawthorne, a local banking executive who has known Doud since the beginning of his tenure.

For the party, Hawthorne was recruited to condense nearly a quarter-century of Chamber history into a brief speech. In it, he lauded not only the man of the hour, but those around him.

“Rich is great, but he hasn’t done this on his own,” Hawthorne said. “He has a great ability of hiring and training people. One of Rich’s best attributes is finding good talent.”

That’s an assessment Doud would not dispute. He said his staff through the years “deserves more credit than I do.”

County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was on hand to declare May 29 as “Rich Doud Day” and read a proclamation honoring Doud for his service.

The resolution noted that, since Doud arrived on the job, Arlington had added 14 million square feet of office space, four million square feet of retail space, more than 30,000 multi-family residential units and 70,000 additional jobs.

Fisette couldn’t help but take a few good-natured jabs; the resolution he brought along noted that “Rich built strong and positive relationships and always treated others with respect, despite his mutilation in reading the names of the many award winners at the Hospitality Awards events over the years.” Those who have attended those awards programs could only nod in silent agreement.

Positioning himself as the night’s roastmaster general, Fisette noted that, a few weeks earlier at the Best Business Awards ceremony, speaker after speaker (mostly but not exclusively female) came to the podium to acknowledge that they long harbored secret crushes on Doud.

“I may be the only one in the room who hasn’t had a crush on him,” Fisette deadpanned.

But, the board chairman said in ending on a serious note, Doud “has made a difference and a lasting contribution – Arlington is a better place” for his service.

The accolades and gifts kept on coming: Doud was presented with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, and was honored for exceptional service by U.S. Army Col. Fern Sumpter, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

Doud “has been an outstanding partner and friend – an awesome guy,” said Sumpter, who has led the joint base for the past two years and serves as the military liaison to the Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
As part of the night’s events, the Chamber’s annual scholarship program was renamed to honor Doud.

One question of the evening was not when Doud might break down, but when. “Those of you who had the over-under on Col. Sumpter’s speech win,” Hughes chuckled as Doud gave in to the emotion of the evening during her presentation.

In his own remarks, Doud said he was appreciative of all the kindnesses shown him in recent months.

“It means a lot, it really does,” he said. “I love you all dearly.”

Doud’s last day was May 30. But the Chamber of Commerce moves on: The search continues for a successor, and the organization will be moving back to the Courthouse area in early September after two years in Ballston while the site where it long has been headquarters was razed and rebuilt.

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