William Standley Stokes IV, of Alexandria and Upperville, a widely-respected business consultant with a background in international trade and national security issues as well as a loving partner, father, son and brother, passed away Monday, January 3, 2022. He was 57.
Mr. Stokes was born Jan. 5, 1964, in Washington, D.C., to Mary Stokes and the late William S. “Tommy” Stokes III.
He was a graduate of The Hill School in Middleburg, Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the College of William & Mary. He also pursued graduate studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and studied at the University of Trier in Germany and Georgetown University.
Mr. Stokes was considered a brilliant critical thinker and spoke German well enough to get himself into serious trouble. He launched his career in Washington, working at think tanks that eventually led him into business consulting. Over the years he worked with a number of U.S. and international clients to address their business, human resources and leadership needs.
An exceptional connector and people person, he was the founder and chairman of the Washington Network Group (WNG), a Washington-based organization of senior-level executives and professionals from the private, public and independent sectors. The WNG membership includes leaders in companies, professional service firms, associations, nonprofit organizations, multilateral institutions, the Congress, government agencies, foreign embassies and the media.
He also served as a leadership development coach and mentor to numerous organizations, including the BMW Foundation's RESPOND Accelerator, the Founder Institute, Accelerate Athens and the Exonian Mentors program of Phillips Exeter Academy. He was a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader and a past BMW Trans-Atlantic Forum (TAF) Fellow. Additionally, he served as a Professional Networks Leader for the College of William & Mary.
Mr. Stokes was a past board member of the George C. Marshall International Center (GCMIC), the World Affairs Council of Washington (executive committee), the Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni Association of Washington (president) and The Hill School Alumni Association (president). He was a founding member of First Tuesday Washington, RecruitDC and the International Business Council of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. He served on the board of directors of the German-American Business Association (GABA) and was director of the Manfred-Woerner-Seminar for German-American understanding, a leading transatlantic exchange program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Mr. Stokes leaves a lasting legacy of leadership and loving relationships and lived his life fully and lovingly every minute, to the very last day.
His family and anyone who knew him will recall and miss his bright mind, quick wit, love of music, gardens, travel, the farm and horse racing. He loved the outdoors and being in nature, and was well-known for his generosity, empathy, devotion to civility and social impact, a winning smile, unforgettable laugh and twinkling blue eyes.
Mr. Stokes is survived by his mother, Mary Merchant Stokes, of Upperville; his brother, Claiborne Merchant Stokes of Mobile, Ala. (Leder Lamar); his sister Stormy Buchanan Dudley (Philip) of Upperville; his son, Will Stokes of Arlington; his beloved life partner, Cathy Puskar of Alexandria, and nieces and nephews, Peter, Thomas and Forbes, Clara Leder and Tommy.
The visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, January 20, at Everly Wheatley funeral home, 1500 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, January 21, at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Upperville, Buchanan Hall in Upperville.
Donations in Mr. Stokes memory may be made to Buchanan Hall and The Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association.