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Joseph Gerald Hebert
February 13, 1949 ~ September 7, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old
Joseph Gerald Hebert (Gerry), Voting Rights Attorney of Alexandria, Virginia passed away at the age of 74 on September 7, 2023.
Gerry was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to Joseph Gerald Laurie Hebert and Adeline Agnes Whitehead Hebert on February 13, 1949. A graduate of St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Gerry went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Stonehill College and Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.
A respected Civil Rights and Voting Rights attorney, Gerry worked in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division from 1973 to 1994. While at the DOJ, he won acclaim for his work in school desegregation cases and served as the lead attorney in voting rights and redistricting lawsuits, including several cases decided by the U. S. Supreme Court. Post-DOJ, Gerry spent time in private practice specializing in election law and the Voting Rights Act. His expertise led him to the Campaign Legal Center in 2004, serving as Executive Director until 2018, before retiring from the organization in 2021. During this time, Gerry was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and developed a thriving intern program for CLC. He also taught at University of Virginia, American University, and New York Law School. He was awarded the Wasserstein Fellowship at Harvard Law School and Mentor in Residence at Yale Law School. In 2015, Gerry spearheaded the CLC effort to establish the Voting Rights Institute (VRI), a partnership with the American Constitution Society and Georgetown Law, which created opportunities for law students and graduates to learn how to litigate voting rights cases.
Gerry's advocacy extended beyond his professional career. He served as PTA president at George Mason Elementary School, where he was a fixture in the hallways for years, his voice on the loudspeaker delivering the morning announcements. He worked particularly hard to ensure that families of color were involved in their children's education, and that the needs of George Mason Elementary were made known to the School Board.
As ASA soccer coach to many of Alexandria's youth, Gerry shared his own athletic skills, always ending a weekly practice - at the request of the team - punting the ball straight up in the air, multiple stories high.
A man of strong faith and an enthusiastic choir member, Gerry served the Fairlington United Methodist Church community in many capacities including lay leader.
Gerry worked tirelessly to help Alexandrians in need, volunteering with ALIVE! Inc. since 1986. He dedicated his time and talents, serving as ALIVE's president, director of development, chair of the furniture program, and Last Saturday food distribution coordinator. Earlier this year, Gerry was awarded Volunteer Alexandria's 2023 Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Service Award for his commitment to ALIVE!'s mission, specifically for his work to open both of ALIVE!'s beautiful and welcoming food hubs, ensuring that Alexandrians maintained their integrity while receiving food and critical services.
Gerry approached his personal life with the same passion and purpose. He was omnipresent in his children’s lives as he filled the roles of brown bag lunch maker, short order breakfast cook, and overprotective parent. He could be found lifting his grandchildren to top the Christmas tree, eating Oreos and drinking straight from the milk carton in the middle of the night, or dancing in the street with Victoria during a red light at the intersection of Braddock and Russell. He would “give you a nickel” if you could name the artist from the 60’s singing on the radio. He’d send you recipes for the perfect pork chop, articles about the latest threat to justice and democracy, and a heads up about recent sunscreen recalls. He was deeply devoted to playing the guitar, discovering the best deal on good wine, and playing the lottery. He never said goodbye without also holding up his hand to sign “I love you.” He had the timing of a stand-up comedian, all the wisdom of a perfect storyteller, and an unfulfilled desire to travel the world. He was just beginning to discover what retirement was like and between the Rock 'n Roll cruises he took with Victoria, his long ponytail, and his Bohemian pants, he confirmed his family’s suspicion that he really did dream of being the next great American folk singer. He was a lively wedding dancer, a proficient recaller of sports stats, and even attended MLB professional umpire school. Gerry was an expert magician, the friend you were thankful to call yours, and as far as his family knew, he was “the strongest man in the world.”
Gerry is preceded in death by his mother and father.
Gerry is survived by his wife of 37 years, Victoria, his children, Christy Przystawik (Tom Przystawik), Greta Gordon (Jim Gordon), Brooke Harris (Ben Harris), Josh Hebert, and Marlea Hebert (Anthony DiBerardinis). His brother, Tom Hebert (Maria Hebert), and his ten grandchildren Gunter, Annika, Amelie, Harper, Sadie, Bailey, Brighid, Adrian, Tyler, and Abe.
A funeral service will be held at 11AM on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at Fairlington United Methodist Church.