The Washington Post

M. Jane Seeman, former mayor of Vienna, Va., dies at 76

Mrs. Seeman died Feb. 23 at 76. (Photo by Laura Magane Goyer)

M. Jane Seeman, who entered Virginia politics in 1996 when she filled the unexpired Vienna Town Council term of her late husband and went on to serve 14 years as the town’s mayor, died Feb. 23 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She was 76.

The cause was lung cancer, said her daughter, Linda Colbert.

Mrs. Seeman, a former preschool teacher and library volunteer, won full terms on the Vienna Town Council in 1997 and 1999. She became mayor in a 2000 open election after the death of Mayor Charles Robinson Jr., who had held the office for 24 years. In the next six races, Mrs. Seeman faced minimal or no opposition.

She was diagnosed with cancer last year and announced in January that she would not seek an eighth term.

Vienna, a Washington bedroom community in Fairfax County, has a steadily climbing population of about 16,000. Mrs. Seeman’s tenure was largely focused on development issues, including sidewalk construction and parking needs. The redevelopment of the Tysons Corner area had a significant impact on town politics and policies.

In January, Mrs. Seeman told the Vienna Sun Gazette newspaper that the development of the Town Green, a project conceived by the Town Council, was the highlight of her mayoralty.

“It makes my heart swell when I see people out there, not just during organized concerts but during the day, with kids walking around and talking with each other,” she said. “That’s what it’s for. That’s been a huge asset to the town.”

Madena Jane Chittenden was born in Hays, Kan., on June 1, 1937. She was a 1959 business and economics graduate of what is now Fort Hays State University in Hays.

She settled in Vienna in 1968 because of her husband’s civilian job with the Army Corps of Engineers. Ten years later, she began working with the preschool program at the Vienna Community Center. She was director when she retired in 1998.

Her husband, Rodger Seeman, died in 1996 after 37 years of marriage. Survivors include three children, Thomas Seeman of Leesburg, Va., William Seeman of Fairfax Station, Va., and Linda Colbert of Vienna; a sister; and five grandchildren.

Colbert is now a candidate for the Vienna Town Council.

Adam Bernstein has spent his career putting the "post" in Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person” and to write stories that are “complex yet stylish.”

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