Page 1

We are Here because

Dr. Gary L. and Nam Rhodes Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Dr. Gary L. Rhodes, President of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, and his wife Nam, an artist and a native of Vietnam, have been living in Powhatan County almost five years, having moved here from Hanover County. This is why they live here. NR: We always had a desire to live on a lake, and we are both golfers. One day Gary and I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if some day when we get a little older to find a very simple golf course right on the lake.” And that would be our dream. We found an ad for Mill Quarter Golf Course, so we just went out there for 18 holes for fun and we found a property. Like miracles. We knew right away that this was what we want. We were blessed. GR: It was a little serendipitous that we found this property. Nam and I [have] lived in California, Maine, Minnesota, and now here. It’s everything from the people to the rural atmosphere, to the greenery, to the change of seasons, and a lot of it’s Virginia, not just Powhatan, but this just happens to be the corner where we landed and we’ve made just a wonderful, high quality of life place.

“I have travelled all over the country, lived in different parts of the country, and of all the places I’ve ever lived this is the only one I’ve literally fallen in love with.” NR: Gary’s job is 24/7. I mean, he’s going to be interacting with students, staff, community people, political people, chamber of commerce, everything, so having a place here is really relax-

ing. We both work very hard and on weekends we can decide [to] golf, kayak, enjoy. GR: This is sort of our respite, to reflect and think and enjoy nature again. I saw four snakes kayaking last week. How often do people get to see four snakes on one trip? Even the drive, it’s quality thinking time for me. I’m with people all day, on the phone, meetings, so the only time I’m really by myself is in my car. Some people think it’s a drive, but frankly, it’s a plus for me because it is that quiet time that I don’t have anywhere else. NR: What I like the most is that I feel peaceful all the time. GR: I have travelled all over the country, lived in different parts of the country, and of all the places I’ve ever lived this is the only one I’ve literally fallen in love with.

I AM Here because

Anita Cook Ridings

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Anita Cook Ridings is the co-owner of The Teachers Aide. Except for going to college at Longwood, in Farmville, she has lived in Powhatan her whole life. This is why she lives here ACR: My grandfather, Walter Columbus Cook, came here from Mount Airy, NC in 1916 and he started his tobacco farm and had a very large family. My father had 16 brothers and sisters. I think I have close to fifty first cousins and about 80% of them still live in the county. It’s not like I’ve never been anywhere and didn’t have any idea of anything else. I’ve traveled the world and been to many different countries and all across the United States. I love to travel but this is my home. If you choose to be in a neighborhood you can. [Or you can] choose to be further out and more secluded. I like the fact that you still have that choice here. You have enough conveniences but it’s not like living in the city. I like to see the stars at night. I used to spend the night [at] a girlfriend of mine [in Chesterfield] and I couldn’t sleep; there were lights coming in the windows and the traffic noise and it just isn’t my thing. I suppose the reason I stay is my faith. I was raised under the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do onto you. I try to live

“I know if I ever need anything I have someone close by that will help me and I try to help other people as well.” my life with that philosophy. It might not be donating all your time and money to every cause but helping an elderly person open a door or being polite. I know if I ever need anything I have someone close by that will

help me and I try to help other people as well. It is the type of community that Powhatan is. I was baptized last year in Cartersville River; we don’t have a [building] yet at the Powhatan Community Church so we [go] down to the river and have to scoot over when people unload boats and load. Last year I happened to have been baptized on the hottest day of the year—it was like 100+—people who weren’t even being baptized got in the water! I belong to the Powhatan Community Church. Two reasons: Powhatan…community. Part of the name. They do things right here. They do things I believe in. Doing things for the community. That’s really why I stay.

I AM Here because

Mike Goodwyn

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Mike Goodwyn, President of R. C. Goodwyn & Sons, Inc. was born and raised in Powhatan. After serving in the military, he came back to work in the family business, a saw mill started by his grandfather in 1932. This is why he lives here. MG: I started working over here picking up bottles when I was like 12 or 13 years old. I’d get me a wheel barrow and go over to the saw mill and pick up bottles and I’d get two cents apiece or a penny a piece for them bottles. There were no aluminum cans back then. I’ve done everything here from picking up bottles to the being president of the company, you know, so I’ve seen a lot of changes for sure. I am here in Powhatan because this is where my family is. This is where I work. This is where most of my friends are. I’ve always liked the small town feeling, anyway. And this is where I grew up. That’s it in a nutshell. What’s really kept me here is this business. I could’ve done something else. I play music, I love music! I thought about one time trying that, going to Nashville, try to make a go at that, but I got started late and that wasn’t in the cards. This [the family business] was in the cards for me. You gotta go where the money is, you know what I mean? If

“I don’t want Powhatan to be too big, but then I want this business to survive and it takes people to make it survive.” you’re not making a decent living you got to stick with what’s working. So I’m looking to the future to see what else we can do to find some kinda niche where we can still survive just like my granddaddy did back in those days. He was hauling his hardwood to David M. Lee down in Richmond. He found a niche there. But that’s what’s going to be challenging for us here, to keep it a family business. I’m a third-generation. My son, he’s

working here, he’s a fourth-generation. Things have changed a lot since my granddaddy to his generation. We just recently put in a new hardware store; we sell plumbing and electrical supplies now. And we still buy and sell a ton of lumber and windows and doors. I think it’s a growth explosion out here in Powhatan and I think they’re doing all they can do to slow down. But it’s hard to stop it. People want to come out here in the country, you know, but when they get here and they want all the conveniences of the city…you really can’t have both. So that worries me a little bit. I don’t want Powhatan to be too big, but then I want this business to survive and it takes people to make it survive. You have got to change with the times and there will probably be another change coming. I can see it in the cards...if we want to make it.

I AM Here because

Ruth Boatwright

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Ruth Boatwright is a business owner and a hands-on community activist. This is why she lives here. RB: I was born and raised here. 72 years. I did live in Bon Air for a year when we first got married. My parents lived here, owned land here, and gave my husband and I some land here so we built a house here and moved back to Powhatan and we’ve been here ever since. The people keep me here. I know so many wonderful people here. I went to school here, I had some dear friends, and a lot of my classmates still live in Powhatan. I came to work at Richardson Harrison Boatwright in 1962 and I really liked what I was doing and I love the job that I had. I never dreamed that one day that I would be part owner of the business. This business is a part of meeting people, helping people. My husband and I didn’t start out to have a farm but we do have a farm today. It’s nice and relaxing. He is retired and I’m still working. When my doctor asked if I was still working and I told him yes, he said, “Good! Don’t retire. Keep working.” I’m involved in Relay for Life which is something that has brought me a lot of satisfaction in knowing that Powhatan County has been instrumental in raising a lot of money for the cure for cancer. I just lost my brother three weeks ago to cancer.

“I feel the Lord has put me here for a purpose and I try every day with all my heart to fulfill that purpose. ” I’ve lost two brothers and two sisters to cancer so I’ve been involved in Relay for Life and the people that are involved in that are just wonderful people. Getting involved with the veterans has been something that again involves people. [In 1995?] I put together a bunch of songs that were patriotic. A lot of the men, and women, too, had joined the Army or the Navy right after school so it sort of brought the community back together and brought those men

and their wives and their families back together. And they loved it! So we continue to do it. We do it every year the Sunday before Memorial Day. We were doing a night show and we got so we had too many people coming and so we did two shows, one in the afternoon and one at night. When the new high school was built and it seated a thousand, I said let’s move it to the high school and do one show. I had one guy drive down here from New Jersey just to come to the show. He said [they] don’t do anything like this in New Jersey. I guess I’m a people person. I’ve never lived anywhere else but I don’t know if I can visualize myself leaving Powhatan. This is home for me. This is where I grew up. This is where I became involved.

I am Here Because  
I am Here Because  

In their own words, the people of Powhatan County, Virginia, describe their connection with the county.