by Henry Lane Hull

Two of the Northern Neck’s most notable sons have died recently. The first was Bobby Crowther, an iconic figure in the automotive industry for over half a century, having spent his entire career in his family’s business, Crowther Ford in Kilmarnock. Bobby was the eldest son of Bob and Ruth Crowther, and he inherited two of their distinctive traits.

From his father he maintained a lifelong interest in the political scene, whether at the local, national or global level. Early in every conversation he would turn to the topic by saying, “What do you think about what’s happening?” In retirement he listened to the news all day long and absorbed every tidbit put forth by the media. By no means does that imply that he agreed with all that he heard, but from his retirement home across from the carnival grounds in Kilmarnock, he could discuss the world at large.

A few years ago when he built his new home, friends asked him how he would like living across from the week-long hubbub of activity each summer, to which he replied that he looked forward to it as it afforded him the opportunity to see many friends he otherwise might miss all year. 

Bobby was extraordinarily gregarious and lived to be with people. Each morning he enjoyed breakfast at Lee’s Restaurant, sitting with his friends, catching up on their news and offering his own analyses of world events. After all his decades in the automobile business, Bobby never lost interest in what new models were coming out, which dealerships were prospering, which were not and what was the best value for the customer. After three generations in the car world, the automobile was in his DNA. From his mother Bobby learned to be both resourceful and neat, maintaining his home to a level of perfection that few homemakers achieve. Ruth was known for the quality of her home life, a tradition she passed along to Bobby. 

Bobby died last month at the age of 80 without ever becoming “old.” He was actively involved in doing his part helping others, giving to the community and being a friend to all.

Robert Edward Crowther, III, October 28, 1936 – July 25, 2017. R.I.P.


The other iconic passing was that of Herbert Hammock of Burgess. Herbert was a master printer, truly the old fashioned kind, one who took pride in seeing his work on paper. He and his wife, Phyllis, operated Hammock’s Print Shop on Northumberland Highway in Burgess, where they produced printed work of the highest quality. Herbert was a perfectionist and all of his work reflected the ideals he set for himself, but although respected and appreciated by all of his customers, Herbert was better known for his community service.

For many years he was a Deputy in the Northumberland Sheriff’s Office, dispatching fellow officers to various assignments, acutely listening to the scanners and telephones to remain on top of whatever was happening across the county.

In his spare time, Herbert was the “Volunteer Par Excellence,” giving truly untold hours, days, indeed years of his time to the Northumberland Rescue Squad and the Fairfields Volunteer Fire Department, in both of which he was a life member. Whenever a crisis occurred, Herbert could be counted upon to be among the first on the scene, offering his expertise, talent and reassurance to everyone involved in ameliorating the situation. 

Over the course of his decades-long service, innumerable individuals received better, often life-saving, treatment because of Herbert being involved in the early, critical stages of their care. At the same time many peoples’ homes and businesses were saved from destructive fires because Herbert gave up his own pursuits to fight the fires that threatened their property. His energy level was remarkable, giving of himself both to the the rescue squad and the fire department, asking for no reward other than the satisfaction of knowing he had done his utmost to help those in need. 

Herbert was a modest and humble man, who expressed himself in a gentlemanly manner, which merited him the gratitude, respect and appreciation of all who knew him.

Herbert Booker Hammock, June 25, 1943 – July 31, 2017. R.I.P.