Albert G. Van Metre
Albert G. Van Metre Sr., 82, a real estate developer and philanthropist who
built more than 15,000 homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial space in the
Washington area, died of interstitial lung disease March 2 at his Arlington
Mr. Van Metre was chairman and chief executive of Van Metre Cos., the
Burke-based business that he founded in 1955 and that became one of the largest
privately held real estate companies in the area.
The firm's planned communities include Broadlands in Ashburn, Stone Ridge in
Loudoun County and Lansdowne on the Potomac. It also builds custom homes,
apartments, condominiums and townhouses. Its commercial properties include
Fairfax Square, Burke Professional Center and Hayfield Center in Alexandria.
Mr. Van Metre also was a world-class yachtsman who won just about every major
event on the East Coast and a major philanthropist. He combined those interests
when he helped found the Hospice Cup Regatta, which has raised $8 million for
nonprofit hospices in the region. His firm also raised and donated millions to
Northern Virginia charities, including the Children's National Medical Center,
the Loudoun Community Free Clinic and Prince William Interfaith Caregivers.
His primary philanthropies were hospices, Children's Hospital and the Naval
Academy Foundation, but Mr. Van Metre supported everything from youth sports
teams to homeless shelters, fire and rescue departments to high school
post-graduation parties. In 1986, he had a 45-ton rock moved from one of his
developments to West Potomac High School in southeastern Fairfax County, which
one of his sons attended. The 15-foot-wide boulder was to be used as a student
A man who never distinguished between work and leisure, Mr. Van Metre's goal
each year was to double the number of homes he'd built the previous year.
"Al was a driven man, full of integrity and a thirst for life and success in
life," said Laurence Bensignor, trustee of the family trust. "He never did
anything halfway. When he decided to enter the competitive ocean-racing world,
he ended up winning 200 races over a 10-year period. . . . On a Sunday
afternoon, you'd find Al driving [around] the jobs, and there'd better not be so
much as a cigarette lying on the lawn in front of the model homes."
He was born in the District, the son of a Navy commodore and descendant of three
admirals, and grew up around the country. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy and
graduated from George Washington University.
He enlisted in the Army during World War II. After graduating from Officer
Candidate School, he served in postwar Europe. Returning to the Washington area,
Mr. Van Metre worked as a surveyor for several builders until he started his own
He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young in 1995 and received a
lifetime achievement award from the Finest for Family Living Award in 2004. Last
year, his firm was recognized by J.D. Powers for having the highest overall
customer satisfaction in the region.
He was a member of the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation and the
Naval Academy Foundation. He was a past board member of St. Stephen's School in
His marriages to Charlotte Crofford and Patricia Rogers ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Joan Harmon Van Metre of Arlington; two children
from his first marriage, Albert G. "Beau" Van Metre Jr. of The Plains and Alison
Van Metre Paley of McLean; a son from his second marriage, Thomas Earle Van
Metre III of McLean; five stepchildren, Brad Gable of Manassas, Jeff Gable of
Markham, Julie Gable of Sterling, Randall Wade Everett III of Nokesville and
Whitney Williams of Severn; a sister, Evelyn Thompson Hoermann of Alexandria; 17
grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
From: The Washington Post - March 5, 2008.