She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.
When he first moved to D.C. in 1972, Geoff Grubbs knew a different town than the one we know today. People were moving out of the city and into to the suburbs and the first section of the Metro was being built. It was — simply put — a different time for the city and for Grubbs himself.
Fast-forward to present day and Grubbs lives and works in D.C. as the owner of a small independent environmental consulting firm but now finds himself on a mission. That mission is to help fund the research that will bring about the next generation of drugs not yet invented to help treat his form of lymphoma. It’s this circumstance, he said, that reignited his love for the city in which he lives. Why? The unfortunate circumstances have provided a new perspective, reminding him why he loves living in here and how lucky he is to do so.
What is it about DC that makes it home to you?
I came to DC from west Texas in 1972 for a job I really wanted at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Despite my enthusiasm, I was used to wide open spaces and it was hard to adjust to living in the humid and seemingly crowded East.
But I adjusted fast. It took just a motorcycle and some income to figure out that DC was a far more interesting and fun place than anywhere I had ever been.
More than four decades later, I can proudly say that I still love DC. I’ve made life-long friends and never intend to live anywhere else. DC public schools were great for my kids who are both now grown and thriving. I love the shore, I love hiking in the Shenandoah, I love the people, and most of the time I love the Nationals.
Describe your perfect day in DC. Where would you go and what would you do?
In the spring, an early morning walk on Roosevelt Island to look for warblers and wildflowers. In summer and fall, a morning bike ride with my wonderful wife on the C&O Canal towpath toward Great Falls. In the afternoon, it’s the Phillips Collection near DuPont Circle (I’m a sucker for somebody else’s interesting taste in impressionist and modern art). Finally, in the evening, dinner at Rasika followed by whatever oddball production Woolly Mammoth Theater is doing.
What’s your favorite hidden gem of a location in DC? How did you find it and why do you love it?
Before I answer, I should mention that I have a form of blood cancer. My hidden gem is the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Care Center. While most people have probably never heard of the Lombardi Cancer Center, for me it’s a lifeline. Dealing with cancer is tough but here in D.C., accessibility to top-notch health care makes everything better. I could go on and on about the wonderful restaurants, neighborhoods, entertainment and outdoor activities that I enjoy so much but none of that would matter if I didn’t have the best possible care. Lombardi is one of the top cancer centers in the country and we in DC are very lucky to have it here.
Who’s your favorite DC personality and why?
That’s easy – my oncologist, Dr. Bruce Cheson at the Lombardi Center. Dr. Cheson isn’t about one-size-fits-all solutions, which is incredibly important when it comes to blood cancer. We’re at the frontier of research for blood cancer treatments which are advancing very rapidly and Dr. Cheson is at the forefront of that work. I share Dr. Cheson’s excitement that chemotherapy is rapidly becoming obsolete for blood cancer patients like me and many others in the greater DC area.
Dr. Cheson goes the extra mile, literally. Dr. Cheson and his wife Christine started a charity bike ride in Montgomery County called the Lymphoma Research Ride to raise much-needed funds for the Lymphoma Research Foundation. The seventh annual Research Ride was September 22 and it has now raised nearly $3 million for blood cancer research. I’ve participated every year and thank Dr. Cheson for putting together something that is not only fun, but is helping to fund cancer research that can help people like me.
What would you say has changed the most in DC over the course of your time living here?
People moving back to this wonderful city. When I first came to D.C. in 1972, DuPont Circle was nothing but construction and disrupted traffic as the first six-stop segment of Metro was being built. People were fleeing DC like crazy to the suburbs. As the tax base declined so did the schools and city services, making the simple act of renewing my DC driver’s license something to dread.
But now – Logan Circle? 14th Street? Anacostia? All are on the upswing as people move back in and commerce takes off. Many formerly rundown areas are not even remotely recognizable compared to what they were when I arrived way back when. In the 1990s, my wife and I feared we’d have to move to the suburbs to avoid dilapidated public school buildings and dropping enrollment, but the schools were beautifully renovated and are now thriving just like the rest of the city! The renovation of Wilson High School is sensational, if you haven’t seen it.
DC is making a name for itself and it’s not just about politics any longer. I particularly love all the new restaurants popping up what seems like daily. If you ever find yourself in my Palisades neighborhood, check out Makoto. You’ll never forget the incredible Japanese food nor the experience.