Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

In the good old days when I was a mere lad, stopping at a “service station” was quite a different experience from what today we might call pulling into a “gas station.” 

Back then, the driver remained seated in the car, and an attendant came out, took the order for how much gas the driver wanted, filled the order, then proceeded to wash the windshield and check the oil gauge to see if the oil supply was low. The concept of self-service had not dawned.

Also in those days, when we were only part-time residents of the Northern Neck, our other home was in Chevy Chase, in Northwest Washington. While living there, my father patronized a service station across the border in Bethesda. During the summers one of the attendants was a young man who gave exceptionally good service. He was a college student at the University of Maryland, and we learned that he was the son of the owner of the company.  

By the time I had a driver’s license, he had moved on beyond his summer employment, and later when I would be pulling in to fill up as a driver myself, other attendants had replaced him. I subsequently learned that he had succeeded his father as the president of the company.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and my neighbor and predecessor in writing the weekly column for the Rappahannock Record, Captain Gene Rook, stopped to tell me that he had sold his home on Barrett Creek to a “nice young couple,” and he would be moving to Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury. Shortly thereafter, one day in the post office I met my new neighbor.  

As we spoke, I came to think that I had known him previously, then I experienced a eureka moment and realized that he was the adult version of the young man I remembered from my childhood who had spent his summers working at the gas station. He was Bill Reisner, a native Washingtonian, and he had come to the Northern Neck as a result of having married his wife, who was the former Anne Thorndike of Wicomico Church.

Over the ensuing years, Bill and I had many chats reminiscing about our family’s patronage of his father’s service station. Thirty years ago, when I was serving on the Northumberland County Board of Supervisors, Bill told me he would like to be appointed as a Northumberland representative to the regional Community Services Board (CSB). I presented his request to the board, and we appointed him, thereby beginning a new day for those served by the CSB.

Bill was a man of vision, in no sense a wallflower. Once on the CSB, he began working to establish residential housing for its clients. He spent three years dealing with obtaining the grants necessary to acquire property and build and equip the homes. He was eager and enthusiastic in the pursuit of the ideal he had envisioned.  

After prolonged bureaucratic negotiations, the result of the CSB’s efforts, largely driven by Bill, was the New Horizons Apartments complex on Church Street in Kilmarnock, an institution for which our community can be justly proud and grateful. He also worked as a board member of Bay Aging to get affordable transportation options for many of our residents who had no other means of travel.

Last month Bill died at the age of 83. Throughout his life, he retained the same qualities that characterized his youth. He was motivated to help people in any way he could, all the while enjoying the passage of life himself. He retired at a young age and directed much of the leisure time that followed to doing and caring for others. He has left the Northern Neck a better place for all his good deeds.

William Frederic Reisner, May 23, 1939 – February 17, 2023. R.I.P.