This week I have been recalling some of the authentic Northern Neck originals who have left memorable legacies in our midst. They are in no particular order, but represent a broad spectrum of folks who made their own statements.
Practically each evening, the late Raymond “Crow” Lewis came to Tri-Star Supermarket shortly before closing and visited with fellow purchasers. He had been working at his oil company all day, and he enjoyed unwinding and offering his comments on the passing scene. They were always amusing, perceptive and insightful.
Anne Russell, one of the most knowledgeable individuals about the automotive industry, had exquisite penmanship which she augmented with her signature mauve ink. Ann was a prolific writer, and one knew before opening any letter that she wrote that reading it would be an artistic, as well as a literary, experience.
Lou Baker was a local institution, who spent much of his time on the streets of Kilmarnock. He was well-known for his imagination, readily willing to tell his listeners about people he had “encountered.” He was a delightful person, who sadly lost his life when hit by a car as he wandered into the street.
John Norris—who was known by his nickname, “Lonzie”—lived his life without being able to read, but he abounded in common sense on many topics. He knew how to do almost anything in the yard or in the woods. Having him as a friend was an educational experience, as he found pleasure in imparting his knowledge to others.
The Reverend Charles Allen was a retired Episcopalian minister, who retired with his wife Mary to an idyllic spot off of the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout his years here, he frequently preached at local churches, and he assumed the joyful task of being a regular visitor to the hospital and local nursing home where he visited many patients, regardless of their religious affiliation.
The Reverend Joseph Johnston was a retired Methodist minister who had a remarkable gift for preaching to local congregations and at the Community Lenten services. Earlier in his career, he had been the founder of Virginia Wesleyan College, and his erudition was extraordinary well into his 90s.
James Butler was a self-employed farmer, timberman, and all-around man of many talents. He too had beautiful handwriting. When asked if any particular project could be feasible, his uniform reply would be, “I don’t see why not.” He thrived on a complex situation, which he enjoyed working through to a solution.
Jackie Evans retired to the lower Northern Neck, but she was unwilling to sit at home—hence she set up Kilmarnock’s first travel agency. Already a senior citizen herself, she plunged into the business, enjoying sending clients on their jaunts around the world. She would call other agents across the country making reservations, always beginning the conversation with, “Hi, this is Jackie.”
Charlie Lee kindly noted my error last week with respect to the name of my childhood horse, who was a palomino similar to Roy Rogers’ “Trigger,” but his name came from the Lone Ranger’s “Silver.” In that respect, Charlie manifests the legacy from his mother, Ellen Lee, whom I called “Auntie,” who worked at the Rappahannock Record for over 30 years, one of the greatest grammarians I ever knew.