George J. Kelley, Jr.

Dr. George John Kelley, Jr. (November 29, 1921 – July 31, 1979) was the Fairfax County Executive from March, 1971 to October, 1972.

George Kelley was appointed as a Deputy County Executive in June, 1968.[1] Kelley, a management expert, was previously a consultant who had written a report for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors suggesting a number of reforms in county administration, and the board hired him to carry out those reforms.

Kelley promoted a plan to change the collection of real estate tax revenues from an annual to a semi-annual plan.

Upon the announcement by Carlton C. Massey of his intention to retire, the Board approved Kelley’s promotion to the top spot on September 23, 1970, and Kelley took office in March, 1971.[2]

The problem was, Kelley acted like he was in charge of running the county government, which the BoS took offense to.

Kelley resigned during a meeting of the board on February 7, 1972 when one of the supervisors, James Scott of the Providence district, accused him of withholding information needed to take a decision about handling sewage in the county. Scott said to Kelley that "One might suspect there was something more than bad timing involved." when the board was given a report just before their meeting. Kelley shot back that he himself had only received the report that morning, then added, "I deeply resent Mr. Scott’s statement." before walking out of the meeting.

Kelly and the board kissed and made up a few days later (literally; he was welcomed back with a kiss from Centreville Supervisor Martha V. Pennino), on February 11, with board chairman William S. Hoofnagle saying "We think he’s doing a great job."

However, the love fest between Kelley and the board was short-lived, and would come to an end eight months later, in the board’s October 16, 1972 meeting.

Eleven days previously, on October 5, Kelley, in the company of John T. “Til” Hazel, Jr., had met with Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and Representative Joel T. Broyhill to attempt to delay the takeover by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority of two Northern Virginia bus companies: the Virginia subsidiary of the D.C. Transit System, the WV & M Coach Company, as well as the private AB & W Transit Company, or to amend the bill to allow the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to possibly buy the two companies itself.

Kelly thought that the decision to take over the buses of Northern Virginia by WMATA was rushed and that the cost to Fairfax County had not been sufficiently studied and evaluated, and had lobbied Byrd and Broyhill with those arguments.

However, the majority of the board advocated the takeover, and didn’t like their boy saying otherwise. They began sharpening their knives, preparing to publicly fillet Kelley for going off the ranch.

During a heated exchange with Supervisor Audrey Moore over his lobbying efforts, Kelley stated "I have terminated my discussion of it.", then walked out of the public meeting. He quickly scratched out his resignation on a yellow legal pad, accusing the Board of conducting a "head-hunting effort" (with Kelley’s balding head as the intended trophy).

Just before she voted to accept Kelley’s resignation, Moore decided to give her blade a twist, calling Kelley "one of the most capable individuals I have ever met" and saying that it was "going to be very difficult to find take his place in the county."

The board unanimously accepted his resignation, effective December 20.


  1. Pearson, Richard "George J. Kelley Jr., Former County Executive of Fairfax." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Aug 01 1979. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1995). Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
  2. Curry, William N."Ex-Deputy Promoted by County." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 2. Sep 24 1970.ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1995). Web. 19 Oct. 2012.
Preceded by
Carlton C. Massey
Fairfax County Executive
March, 1971 – October, 1972
Succeeded by
Robert W. Wilson