Immeasurable Service: Murdered Couple's Legacy
Michael and Ginny Spevak, who were found murdered in their Chevy Chase D.C. home Saturday night, led lives of almost unfathomable service. In a time when so many people have drawn inward, this Washington couple turned their energies and passions to the community around them in ways that could fill a catalogue.
Ginny, who taught middle school for many years at Green Acres School in Montgomery County, was an appointed member of the District's Corrections Information Council, a failed effort to create citizen monitoring of the city's inmates. Spevak and other members of the panel resigned in frustration when the District failed to give them the tools and access they needed to provide oversight as D.C. prisoners were shifted from local to federal control.
She also worked closely with a D.C. group that sought to ease the transition back into the working world for inmates who had been released. She was a foster parent and a tutor at the Anacostia Community Outreach Center.
Closer to home, she served as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the 1970s and 80s and was active for many years in the Friendship Neighborhood Coalition, where she remained a strong voice on development issues as recently as this year. In the 70s, she led the neighborhood commission as it struggled to deal with violence and residents' opposition to rowdy clubs on Wisconsin Avenue that featured nude waitresses.
Even closer to home, she and husband Michael turned their own house on Belt Road NW into a showcase for solar power, opening the house to public tours to demonstrate how they had added solar roof panels. Last year, Ginny Spevak traveled with friends from Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church to rehab houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
At the church, where she served as an elder and a deacon, Ginny taught a course on adopting "simpler, less exploitive lifestyles." She was active in Needlechasers of Chevy Chase, making quilts to give to needy immigrant families.
Mike Spevak, a psychiatrist who specialized in dealing with troubled adolescents, lectured on emotionally disturbed inmates, and worked from his house on Belt Road. He served for some time as block captain for his neighborhood organization and was active in fighting suburban sprawl, instead encouraging denser development near transit stations in urban areas. The couple lived just a couple of blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro station; in the early 1980s, Mike Spevak led a petition drive to press Metro to get that station up and running.
By Marc Fisher |
November 23, 2008; 12:29 PM ET
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