After 40 Years, the Dumfries Town Crier retires

Town Crier Gary West rings his bell. Photo: Historic Dumfries, Virginia.

Hear ye, hear ye, after 40 years Gary West is hanging up his bell and revolutionary war outfit and retiring at the Dumfries town crier.

No more ringing the bell, marching in the Christmas Parade and being the man with the voice around the Town of Dumfries. He’s a long-time resident of the town, and after turning 80, it was time for someone else to take on the duty.

“I thought it was time to give it up,” he said.

His wife Nancy West was the interim Mayor of Dumfries back in 2011 so they have a certain dedication to the town that fit in with his town crier curriculum.

“I love Dumfries, I’m loyal to Dumfries, I love Virginia and I honor the flag, and I love this country,” West said.

He’s done everything from riding in the sheriff’s boat out into the river to greet another boat to recognizing the Potomac Senior High School basketball team when they won the championship.

“I read the proclamation, it was quite a to do,” he said. “I’ve had a varied experience,” he said.

That varied experience is going to be missed by the town, said Keith Rogers, Dumfries town manager.

“He was well known in the community and had an enthusiasm for doing it,” Rogers said.

It all started in the 1970s when he went to the annual parade in Dumfries and noticed there was something missing. He was a school teacher at the time and felt it needed a historical element, so the town crier idea came to mind.

“I volunteered to be the town crier and it stuck with me,” he said.

West got parts of his outfit from another old-timer in Dumfries years ago and then got out a school bell he already had from his days as a teacher. In the past, he taught grade school in the Fairfax County Public School System at Woodlawn and Gunston Elementary Schools, and then Fort Belvoir Elementary School before retiring, and going on to a job with the Fairfax Federation of Teachers.

Off and on, he substituted at a few Prince William County Schools.

As the town crier, he read a proclamation when the Marine Corps museum opened in Quantico, at the Boys and Girls Club dedication in 1997, and again at the Sean Connaughton Plaza ribbon cutting at the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.

He’s also done some things with the Weems Botts Museum in Dumfries and “I’ve done several things with the with the historical society,” he said.
The town knows what level of dedication he provided, and honored him on January 7 with an official proclamation that read:

PROCLAMATION RECOGNIZING GARY WEST FOR HIS SERVICE AS TOWN CRIER FOR THE TOWN OF DUMFRIES

WHEREAS, Gary West is a long-time resident of the Town of Dumfries; and

WHEREAS, Mr. West served as the Town Crier for the Dumfries Annual Christmas Parade since 1978; and

WHEREAS, in 2019, after 40 years of distinguished service, Mr. West relinquished the role of Town Crier; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Dumfries desires to honor and commemorate Mr. West for his years of service to the community as Town Crier; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Dumfries hereby recognizes Gary West for his dedicated years of service to the Town.

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