Dumfries Mayor Fred E. Yohey died Sunday night at Potomac Hospital. He was 63.
Yohey, a retired General Accounting Office analyst, had become ill recently, said Vice Mayor Nancy West. Yohey had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 5, and he had told West that he considered himself lucky to live as long as he had. He recently had been suffering from complications from the disease, West said.
“He told me once that he had really outlived his life expectancy from what his parents had been told,” West said.
Yohey had turned the job of mayor of a town of about 5,000 into a full-time job, West said. He served on the Town Council from 1995 to 2004, before taking two years off and running successfully for mayor in 2006, according to his Washington Post voter’s guide biography. Yohey was a past chairman of the Prince William County-Manassas Adult Detention Center Regional Jail Board among other community involvement.
West said Yohey wanted to see the town grow and had overseen a streetscape beautification project, helped organize the Dumfries Business Association and wanted to help ease the way for a property owner to bring in a high-quality restaurant.
“The job was very, very important to him,” West said. “Being mayor was his life.”
Town Manager Dan Taber said Yohey epitomized the saying “never met a stranger.” He was at Town Hall every day and loved coming to work. Taber said Yohey was particularly excited about the fact that the town has recently hired a director of economic development to spur business.
Yohey also sought to overhaul the town’s police department after years of complaints, West and Taber said. Taber, who had served as police chief before taking over as town manager, said the town had received complaints about officers, but Yohey and others worked hard to install new leadership and overhaul the department.
“The town is in a much better place because of the leadership of our mayor,” West said.
West, as vice-mayor, will become mayor. The town has an election in May, and a mayoral election will take place then, West said. The winner will fill Yohey’s seat for the remaining two years of his term. How the town plans to fill West’s position as vice mayor has not been determined — the town’s code doesn’t specifically spell out a procedure, and the town attorney is researching options, West said.