Remembering Special People at Christmas
|Mary Wakefield Buxton|
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— There are many people in Middlesex County who inspire others. They are often just everyday people we run into during our day that for one reason or another leave us better off than we were. They inspire us to improve attitude or behavior, become more tolerant of others, work harder on pursuit of goals or, by their own example, encourage us to do more to help others.
Here are just a few fellow citizens that I have admired and the reasons why. You may have known and loved them too.
Dr. David Nichols: All doctors help us change harmful habits to improve health, but Dr. Nichols did much more. He spent 30 years of his life taking care of the medical needs at Tangier Island along with caring for his mainland practice. Before dying at an early age of melanoma, he built a new clinic and set up a foundation to help continue health services for the islanders. He was a trusted friend and advisor who put great faith in individual happiness, and he urged patients to follow their dreams and never give up on the pursuit of happiness.
Lee Weber: The first woman to be an elected member of the Middlesex Board of Supervisors, she was a wise and gracious lady. She had great reserves of patience in listening to the needs of her constituents and serving on an otherwise all-male board. She never lost her cool.
She stood up for her convictions even if they were unpopular with some citizens. Once she voted against granting extra holiday time off for county employees because she believed that since the private sector had to work that day, the public sector should be at work, too. Voting against the wishes of any public sector interest group takes great courage.
John Upton: One-time minister of Urbanna Baptist Church, he is known for his sermons. Once while I was visiting his church he said that to “get to God” one had to slip through a very narrow door and leave all baggage behind . . . envy, anger, lust, pride, sloth, gluttony, and greed . . . the usual human weaknesses that prevent living a Godly life. He was right, but I wish it were easier to follow his advice.
Father John Boddie: Priest at the Church of the Visitation, he jokingly called me “Catholic-lite” since I was Episcopalian. I always laughed. I loved him simply because he was always “in trouble” with the bishop for his liberal views. I think a priest should always be in trouble with his bishop.
With solid Baptist roots, which stayed with him in spite of a Catholic education, he was a profound thinker who stood up for what he believed was right. He thought priests should be allowed to marry, he gave communion to all who came to his altar (including non-Catholics, divorced and remarried Catholics, and homosexuals) and he supported women priests. My kind of man.
George Morris: George Morris is a conservative, black Republican who lived and worked in the county as a teacher and minister. A black Republican is as rare as a purple moon; it’s equally rare to have different views from one’s peers.
He also recovered from painful family history which is never easy. His ancestors had been slaves at Hewick Plantation and he had suffered rage since childhood over this fact. One day he and his sons walked the fields his people had once tilled, and he prayed to God for deliverance from his anger. It worked. Purged of the poison, he has moved on to a life of great success.
Dr. Brockett Muir: Retired from private medical practice in Chevy Chase, Md., after moving to Middlesex, he promptly offered his services to public health. He worked long and hard serving the needs of patients in 10 counties. I once asked him why he worked so hard. “Earning a place in heaven,” he told me. He worked up until six weeks before he died of cancer. Deeply opinionated, a treasured “writer’s writer” for me, he was also a beloved friend.
John Warren Cooke: Longtime editor of the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette Journal and Speaker of the House in the Virginia General Assembly, he was a fine southern gentleman with a kind and gentle heart. His father was a Confederate officer in the Army of Northern Virginia, but even though he was immensely proud of his background he was sensitive that his family history might be hurtful of others. A sign of greatness is someone who puts needs of others ahead of himself.
All the above shared similar traits: strong convictions, exquisite manners, provocative ideas, and deep love and understanding for their fellow man. They enriched our lives.
Mary Wakefield Buxton is taking the winter months off and her One Woman’s Opinion column will return in March. She wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.