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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

For many of us, a day trip up and back from Washington is a daunting experience. For a number of years, for Alf Braxton, it was routine, five days a week.

Alf and his late wife, Charlotte, were natives of North Carolina who married while still in their teens, and moved to Fredericksburg when Alf accepted a position with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, where he remained for over three decades. 

Both Charlotte and Alf enjoyed coming to the Northern Neck on getaways, which led to their buying a cottage near Reedville. Ultimately, they decided to move down permanently, and they purchased the Bailey-Cockrell House near the end of the road in Reedville, where they opened an historic house B&B. 

The only hitch in their venture was the fact that Alf had not retired from the government. As a result, Monday through Friday each week, he left home in the middle of the night, drove to Heathsville, parked and boarded a van for downtown Washington. At the close of the workday, he reboarded the van, and reversed course. This situation went on for quite a few years. In the meantime, Charlotte was operating the B&B, which was one of the most elegant places to stay in the Northern Neck.

Alf’s daily treks came to an end with his retirement in 1995. For the next six years, he joined Charlotte in running the inn, until they re-retired in 2001, and the house became a private residence. Even prior to opening the B&B, Charlotte had opened an antique shop in Burgess, as she previously has done in Fredericksburg. She named the business The Country House, and after moving to new quarters, renamed it The Burgess House.

In retirement, Alf was a mainstay of her business, and the shop became a social scene as well as a retail outfit. They sold items such as Kotton Klenser that were only available at their shop, and both were a joint wealth of information on all aspects of their trade. Four years ago, they re-re-retired for the last time. They considered returning to their roots in North Carolina, but as their family was in Virginia, they stayed in the Northern Neck.

Alf was an astoundingly talented individual in many respects. He was a genuinely committed Christian who used his abilities to bring others to the Lord. Music was one of his profoundly impressive gifts. He could walk into a strange place, sit down at a piano, and produce a concert for all those present. He had an innate ear for music, and he used it to impress and inspire his listeners to nobler and greater thoughts and deeds.

He was a lay leader and preacher at his church, one who could address countless topics with knowledge and fluency. Any conversation with Alf automatically resulted in the exchange of knowledge. He truly delighted in his life and was a totally grateful person.

Last June, Charlotte died after almost 60 years of marriage, a loss that Alf accepted with resignation to God’s will. He continued with his missions and was joined by their friend Carole Jett. Alf believed that people were created to be happy and to bring happiness to others. In the latter arena, his life was a brilliant success.

One day when the Elder B.E. was 6, I was speaking with Alf, and when we parted, I said, “Good-bye, Alf,” which caused the B.E. to ask me if he was the subject of the song, “What’s It All About, Alfie?” His question amused us all.

Joseph Alton “Alf” Braxton, June 27, 1942 – May 8, 2023. R.I.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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