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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

Jenny Guo

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Jenny Guo has been living in Powhatan for almost five years. She and her husband own the China Taste and Asiana Bistro restaurants. This is why she lives here. JG: My name is Miao Yan Guo, but everybody call me Jenny. I [came] from mainland China [from] a little city call Fuzhou. It’s in southern China. It’s not like a Powhatan [where] we have like acres around and between the houses. My daddy have the restaurants all over the place. He owns restaurants in Jersey City and in the capital of Michigan, in Lansing; it’s all big-city so Powhatan is the first place I’m going [that] is country. At first I don’t have much friends here [but] we have of lots of good customers and they say you can come to our house for a picnic or have fun, you know, on the weekends. The Goodwyns, he is one of our customer, he always like tell us, “go to his house and have some fun, BBQ, or I was going to be here working seven days a week.” It’s going pretty good, still, it’s hard for sushi… it’s hard to start with. Everybody come here and try at least. I really thank the Richmond TimesDispatch interview; [it] bring us lots of business. We have lots of customers come in here really often, like once a week, twice a week. What’s special about Powhatan County? How fresh air! It’s just like standing in the front door— you can feel it like fresh; it’s not like the city, you

“It’s just like standing in the front door — you can feel it like fresh; it’s not like the city, you know” know, you smell it or like gas around or the steams. It’s fresh! I like it a lot! I go back to New York very often because New York has lots of things to buy of. Always going there, visiting families and getting our “real” Chinese food. I guess we always being to New York [but] it’s just not as comfortable as here; you always have traffic no matter what—daytime, nighttime—there always traffic. Here, we hear some bird sounds and then we have some in the night time; we hear some froggies and doggies; New York they

have ambulance around, police around, and lots of other people playing music in the streets. We have the families and they come here to visit us. [My brother] like a lot so he gonna be stay here, he not gonna to be nowhere else. He don’t like [to go] back to Michigan. It’s cold, really cold. In the winter time they have the snow all day long, you know, never stops. So he like it here a lot, too. So we try to helping him and am getting another restaurant going [on] the Hull Street where people can take Thai food, Japanese food, and Chinese food at the same time. It’s gonna be hard, I think, to start with, but I gonna be really excited, too! I am between somewhere business and family woman because I care about my business, at the same time I care about my family, and I hope that everybody have a happy smile on their face.

I AM Here because

Wade McClintock

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

Wade McClintock moved to Powhatan on October 15, 1988 and has been operating the McClintock Service Center on Route 60 since August of 1998. This is why he has stayed here. WM: A while back I was looking for a particular person and I was scrolling down through the [customer list] and I didn’t realize that there was that many different names and different folks who have come through over the years…it kinda reads like the telephone book. This is pretty much the only profession I’ve ever been in. Dad will tell a story every now and then that he had an old Jeep or something (I’m a little foggy on the on the memory of it cause I was so young) but he come home and I had it jacked up—up on jack stands—all four wheels. I more or less worked in the Midlothian area or the Richmond area in a couple of different shops over the years and you get to know people from working on their cars for years. As a matter of fact the landlord here was actually one of the customers I was doing a lot of work on their company vehicles, family vehicles, and he comes up on day and says, “See here, let’s see if we can work out a relationship here where you have your own place to work out off.” So it seemed to work out. We really get such a large variety the around here. One customer has an early 80s Cadillac out here that’s her pride and joy and another cus-

“It’s more of a smalltown atmosphere, you tend to know more people by their name. It makes it more comfortable.” tomer of ours has a year-or-two-old one of these really fancy Mercedes. [We] get lots of trucks, small cars, big cars—it’s just a large variety. As far as that goes, you get some farm equipment. I come in one day and there was a pavement roller sitting in front of the front door and that had a note on it that said, “It’s broke.” I just like the feel of the area. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. A number of people I’ve known over the years, friends, family, the rural atmosphere. I really don’t like

the idea of “in the city.” I like to stretch my arms out a little bit. Like where I live over there; I know a few of the neighbors but none of us are close enough to annoy each other. It’s more of a small-town atmosphere, you tend to know more people by their name. It makes it more comfortable. What do I like to do when I’m not working on cars? Working on cars. Working on cars or either hunting. I kinda enjoy the shooting sports. That’s kind of my recreation, what I like to do different than turning wrenches. All I try to do is be fair and honest in what I’m trying to do and it just so happens that I have a knack of working with this stuff. I would never be a type to go to blow my own horn—it’s just not the way I am. Actions speak for what I do rather than what I say, if that makes sense.

I AM Here because

C.T. Crouch

Interview and Photography by Skip Rowland

C.T. Crouch was born in Powhatan twenty-seven years ago. He’s a community activist with political aspirations. This is why he lives here. CC: [I recently graduated from] John Tyler Community College, Midlothian campus, with a degree in political science. It took me eight years to get that degree. A lot of hard work, though, but it finally did pay off. From a young age I want to learn about American history and the presidents and historical facts and the growth of American political conservatism in the Republican party back in the 60s going into the 80s, and, mostly Virginia politics. I met Doug Wilder and George Allen, Jim Gilmore, and Randy Forbes, Bob Beasley, and of course my hero, Lee Ware. I’ve known Lee Ware since I was a student in Powhatan High School [10 years ago]. I’ve known him for all these years and I’ve come to understand and respect him. He gives me advice on how to get into the political arena and how he sees politics; and he knows the ins and outs of the General Assembly based on the issues that he votes on. And I did an interview of him one time by the phone when I was in high school for an English report. I explained where he was born and [who his hero was] (Winston Churchill). He’s a great guy. He’s the essence of this county. Whenever there’s a problem he’s always there to help us. I like to interact with people. I like to see myself one day maybe start running [for office] at the local level. Board of Supervisors or School Board. Maybe see myself run for maybe Governor, maybe Senator, or maybe one day, maybe Virginia could use another president. But right now I’m just being a citizen politician. I like to go these meetings and

“I get a sense of pride and a sense of belonging here in this county.” understand how this county operates and functions. And I’m also involved in my church, ushering and greeting, at Red Lane Baptist Church; and I feed the homeless and I also help on the Virginia Society for Human Life. And there’s one other organization that I’m always committed [to] cause it comes from at my own level and it ain’t got nothing to do with politics but it’s a form of public service and that’s the Special Education Advisory Committee. That’s the organization that deals with people with disabilities in the public school system and people with autism and how we can share what their struggles are

in the school system and can help them achieve their potential and goals. It’s a lot of fun being on that committee. I started going there since 2008 and this is my second year on the committee and I’m just thrilled to be part of it. [live anywhere else?] Absolutely not. I mean Richmond, Washington DC, they’re great places, right, but I prefer living here, that’s where my friends are. I feel like Powhatan is a great place to live. I feel like where we’re sitting right now, the nature, the woods, everything else that revolves around us, it gives us like a real feel for this community. I think that Powhatan is a great place to live and work and how you interact with people in the community and the friends that you meet every day. I get a sense of pride and a sense of belonging here in this county.

I am Here Because  

This is a collection of conversations with citizens of Powhatan County, Va, discussing their connections to the county.