George Mason University is mourning the loss of one of its greatest leaders with the recent death of John Toups, a retired entrepreneur, civil engineer, and legend in the Northern Virginia business world.
Toups died on July 14 at the age of 92, with his wife Nina and family members at his side.
“This is an immense loss for George Mason University,” said Janet Bingham, Vice President for Advancement and President of the George Mason University Foundation. “John Toups is one of the giants in the history of Mason. He has been among the foremost figures in the generation of builders and businessmen who realized that Northern Virginia needed its own, world-class university—and he did everything he could to make that vision a reality. Most importantly, John was also a wonderful, kind man. Our sympathies go out to the entire Toups family.”
A founding member of the 123 Club, a group of Northern Virginia business leaders who since the 1980s have promoted and supported the university, Toups was an early advocate for the establishment of an engineering school at Mason. When fundraising efforts were in their infancy, he served as chairman of the George Mason University Foundation. In 2003 John and Nina led the initiative to expand and renovate lab spaces for Mason nursing students. He received the George Mason Medal for outstanding service, the university’s highest honor, in 2006.
In 2017 he established and endowed the John Toups Medal for Excellence in Teaching, which will be awarded annually to an outstanding member of the Mason faculty. Most recently, this year the Toupses pledged $1.5 million to support a teaching lab in the Sid and Riva Dewberry Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering Department. The lab now bears his name. Their gift also supports faculty fellowships and enrichment and study opportunities for graduate students in the Volgenau School of Engineering.
John Toups’ record of public service extended far beyond Mason. A U.S. Army veteran, he received a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for his service in World War II. After moving to Northern Virginia from California, he became the chairman and CEO of Planning Research Corporation (PRC), one of the region’s leading government contractors. He served as chairman of the Inova Foundation and chairman of the board of Inova Health System.
His many honors and awards for community leadership and service include the James M. Reese Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Legend of Northern Virginia Award from Northern Virginia Family Services, and being named Washingtonian of the Year in 2013 by Washingtonian magazine.
Toups is survived by his wife Nina, four children, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, two sisters, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 28 at 11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean, Virginia. The family has requested that guests please consider memorial contributions to the Life with Cancer program at Inova, George Mason University, Capital Caring, or another charity.
July 27, 2018 / RR