‘Over­look­ing the land he loved’

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT -

Those of us who cher­ish Rap­pa­han­nock and Vir­ginia’s North­ern Pied­mont owe a debt of grat­i­tude to Dick McNear, who was buried last week­end on a hill­top in Gid Brown Hol­low over­look­ing the land he loved.

Forty some years ago, I was a new re­porter, cov­er­ing Fauquier and Rap­pa­han­nock coun­ties for the weekly Pied­mont Vir­ginian news­pa­per. Dick McNear was the direc­tor of plan­ning and zon­ing for Fauquier and the de facto plan­ning ad­vi­sor in Rap­pa­han­nock, where he lived and farmed.

He was funny and forth­right, hon­est and in­formed, and he al­ways took the time to ex­plain. A re­porter’s treasure.

Dick was one of Vir­ginia’s early ad­vo­cates for sen­si­ble and man­aged growth.

He saw the link be­tween ecol­ogy and econ­omy, the value of farm­land and open space, the worth of pre­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing nat­u­ral re­sources. He wrote and im­ple­mented lo­cal or­di­nances to ad­vance those goals. He gave the North­ern Pied­mont and be­yond a frame­work for bal­anc­ing devel­op­ment and preser­va­tion.

That was Dick McNear’s pub­lic per­sona. Pri­vately, he was a Good Sa­mar­i­tan who qui­etly and with­out fan­fare helped neigh­bors in need. At his me­mo­rial Sun­day, his daugh­ter af­firmed that grow­ing up in the McNear fam­ily, the creed es­poused and lived by their dad was “Do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.”

Dick made a dif­fer­ence — in his own time and for the fu­ture. If they don’t pave par­adise and put up a park­ing lot here, Dick McNear gets a big share of the credit for pre­serv­ing this spe­cial place on the morn­ing side of the Blue Ridge. DAPHNE HUTCHIN­SON Washington

To the writer of this anony­mous — but thought­ful — let­ter about change and Rap­pa­han­nock County, we want to share your views with fel­low read­ers. How­ever, all let­ters must signed. Please let us know who you are.

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