by Henry Lane Hull

In medieval times, along with the emergence of towns came the new office of mayor, indicating the leading town official. The word derives from the Latin for “bigger” or “more,” meaning that the mayor is more important than any other figure in the town. As all mayors in those days were male, a new term for the mayor’s wife emerged, namely, “mayoress.” In modern times I do not know if a comparable term exists for the husband of a lady mayor.

In Irvington today the populace is celebrating the birthday of the town’s much beloved Mayoress, Theresa Ransone, the wife of Mayor Rannie Ransone, who assumed office in 2010. Theresa is well known throughout the Northern Neck from her illustrious career of nearly four decades in the world of banking. A “local girl,” after high school she went off to Richmond to matriculate at Virginia Commonwealth University, after which she returned to the Northern Neck to follow her professional calling.

I use the term “calling” because it best describes her dedicated service to those clients and customers with whom she dealt. Over a quarter of a century ago she conceived a plan to establish a special cadre of banking customers over the age of 55. Those who joined her in that undertaking received numerous benefits, from discounted rates and fees at local businesses to opportunities for both domestic and foreign travel in the company of their peers and always guided by Theresa.

Theresa truly “adopted” every member of the hundreds in her group. For all of them she was indeed much more than their banker, watching out not only for their financial interests, alerting them of forthcoming interest changes for the planning of their investment portfolios, spending time counseling them as to market changes and most significantly of all, simply being there as a loyal and trusted friend upon whom they knew they could rely.

In her time away from banking, Theresa has enjoyed applying her artistic talent to a wide variety of projects. She has a studio in her home, one of Irvington’s grand old Victorian residences, which she and Rannie have restored and furnished with great attention to detail. On the risers of the treads of her stairway Theresa has attached a variety of yardsticks, thereby creating a tapestry of color and historic interest, as one reads the names of the businesses and places from whence the yardsticks came.

Like her mother, Theresa’s daughter, Emory, a product of Lancaster County schools, has gone on to establish herself in the medical profession as a nurse practitioner. Eight years ago on our family visit to England when we visited Churchill’s War Rooms in the heart of London, the Elder B.E. was wearing his Lancaster High School t-shirt. Emory and her husband, Michael, were there and we met because she saw his shirt and commented that she was a fellow alum.

Theresa’s mother, Anne, now retired from her many years in the real estate profession, among numerous other contributions, is responsible for having saved from deterioration one of Lancaster County’s most historic structures, “Edgley,” in the upper part of the county. For several years while she had the property listed for sale, she went there faithfully to empty the buckets of water that she had placed under many of the leaks in the mansion’s roof, thereby preventing more extensive damage.

Anne is the granddaughter of Captain Archie Long, a steamboat captain. Her knowledge of the lore of the steamboat period in the history of the Northern Neck led to her pivotal role in establishing the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington. Anne also served with dedication as president of the Interfaith Service Council, working to improve living conditions for those in our community in greatest need. Theresa’s father, Henry Whay, is known across the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula from his lengthy career in the sanitation business.

Theresa continues her long family tradition of service to the people of the Northern Neck. She is an extraordinarily capable advocate, a willing listener and a friend to everyone she knows.

Happy Birthday, Madame Mayoress! You are at the “peak of youth!”