Noted for his compassion, vision and professionalism, he led the county’s administration from 1984 to 1992
Henrico County is honoring the life and service of retired County Manager William F. “Bill” LaVecchia, whose warmth, sincerity, vision and expertise allowed Henrico to prosper through decades of considerable growth.
Mr. LaVecchia, 95, died peacefully at home Thursday while receiving hospice care. County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has ordered the Henrico County flag to be lowered to half-staff at all county buildings and facilities through sunset Friday, Nov. 26.
“Bill was a wonderful, kind person and clearly one of the giants of Henrico County,” Vithoulkas said. “He had that rare combination of gifts that distinguish outstanding leaders. He exuded personal warmth and compassion for people. He also had unmatched expertise, professionalism and attention to detail. Through his vision and leadership, Bill truly helped make Henrico County the great place it is to live and work today.”
Mr. LaVecchia served as county manager from 1984 until his retirement in 1992. He was the sixth person to lead Henrico’s government administration under its county manager form, which was adopted in 1934. He joined the county’s staff in 1959 as its second planning administrator, after having served as city engineer and assistant city manager in Athens, Tenn., and as town manager of Blacksburg.
Soon after his arrival, Mr. LaVecchia played a critical role in what would shape Henrico’s growth for decades to come. Drawing on his experience in Blacksburg, Mr. LaVecchia encouraged then-County Manager Edward A. Beck to attend hearings that would determine Interstate 64’s route through the Richmond region. Mr. Beck and Mr. LaVecchia were the only administrators from the region to attend and they were ultimately successful in lobbying for a northern route that would extend the highway through Henrico, positioning the county for development, jobs and investment that continue today.
In 1978, Mr. LaVecchia was promoted to deputy county manager for planning and inspections as part of a reorganization by then-County Manager Frank A. Faison that established three deputy manager positions. The Board of Supervisors elevated Mr. LaVecchia to acting county manager when Faison resigned in May 1984. He was formally named county manager a month later.
Mr. LaVecchia was credited with bringing compassion and calm to the position. He emphasized routine, sincere communication between department leaders and employees and between the county government and residents. He interacted with employees, expressed interest in their well-being and placed for their use a suggestion box in the lobby of the Administration Building – a feature that continues today.
Mr. LaVecchia also wrote letters to employees to celebrate the anniversary of their employment and pushed for enhanced health and sick leave benefits and bonuses for exceptional performance. He established an advisory committee to ensure the county was responsive to the needs of businesses and residents.
Henrico continued to experience significant residential and commercial development during Mr. LaVecchia’s tenure as county manager. The county’s population jumped by 21% from 1980 to 1990. The county kept pace with the community’s needs by improving roads, schools, libraries, fire stations and other facilities. In 1988, the county opened the Eastern Government Center to provide more convenient access to services for residents of the county’s eastern areas.
Mr. LaVecchia announced his retirement in January 1992 and was lauded by the Board of Supervisors for his focus on people, his honesty and compassion and his keeping the board apprised of important matters. He was succeeded as county manager by Virgil R. Hazelett, who had served as chief of staff and deputy county manager for administration under Mr. LaVecchia.
Mr. LaVecchia’s survivors include his wife, Frances, sons Donald and David, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.