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One Woman's Opinion

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Dr. Brockett Muir Jr.

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Good citizens of Middlesex County and beyond. We have lost a great captain of the good ship “Middlesex” this week in the passing of Dr. Brockett Muir Jr. of Saluda. It is right and good that we stop for a moment in our busy lives and pause in honor of his life.

A mighty man, short in stature but great in spirit, this man was truly a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. Few people in today’s world come with such a broad swath of talent, knowledge and interest.

An innately curious man of deeply held conservative convictions, both religious and political, and eccentric down to his toes, Brockett was “an original.” He was a man who needed constant intellectual stimulation. He possessed both high intelligence and a burning desire to learn everything that he could in his lifetime. He was interested in everything.

Born and raised the son of an attorney on a working farm in Maryland of aristocratic French and Scottish lines, he was as refined a man as ever walked this earth; he possessed exquisite manners, perfect language skills, impeccable dress, innate cheerfulness, and innate good will toward his fellow man.

He was much too young, he had just turned 76, to leave us. Upon returning from a 10-day family reunion in Tuscany with 24 members of his family to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary and a 76th birthday, Brockett learned he was gravely ill with cancer.

A Navy pilot, a fine artist who wielded a modernistic watercolor brush to his paintings, a writer (he won the Atlantic Monthly best college writer of the year in both fiction and non-fiction while at UVa), a poet, a veteran of the Korean War, an accomplished  yachtsman (he sailed twice to Bermuda  and enjoyed many trips along the eastern seaboard),  a medical doctor, a farmer, a teacher, a connoisseur of all things fine, and a lover of dogs . . . this man was also husband, father, neighbor and good friend to many dozens of people.

For more 30 years he ran a private practice of OB/GYN in the Washington, D.C., area and over the years cared for many prominent women. He unabashedly loved women, and spent his entire life doing everything he could to improve the quality of their lives. He was proud of his record of very few C-sections being performed under his careful leadership.

Born and raised a Catholic, the good doctor spent 30 years without receiving communion in his church simply for his belief that his patients deserved birth control pills, which he certainly prescribed for them, even though it was against the tenets of his church. At long last, he joined the Episcopal Church in which he spent many happy years as a contented member of Christ Church Episcopal in Middlesex County.

So devoted was he to his profession, even after retirement, that he worked in the Three Rivers Health District, serving 10 counties and seeing patients up to within weeks of his death. He spent a lifetime helping women.

He also cared a great deal about the future development of Middlesex County and served on the board and as secretary of the Middlesex County Museum; with the Deltaville Maritime Museum and Middlesex Forward; as president of Rivers Club; and as a member of the U.S. Sail and Power Squadron, Fishing Bay Yacht Club and many other groups.

He and his wife JoAnn spent several years at Rosegill, filling the historic home with beautiful family antiques. He kept it in spotless condition. While there, he opened the home on many occasions so that the community could see the lovely old place and hear about its history.

Later, he and his wife restored “Leafwood” in Saluda and had the pleasure of personally keeping home gardens and back acreage. “I am a farmer at heart,” he told me many times.

On a personal note, Brockett was precious to me. He came into my life as a dear friend at the death of my father. Through his care and affection, he helped me recover from my great loss. I thought the world of him.

He had the gift of inspiring those that he knew and he had the kind of brain that could relate to anyone, regardless of individual bent. He inspired dozens of comic and lovable characters in a multitude of stories and books that I wrote and shared with him. He was a “writer’s writer,” in that he provided me a constant source of ideas along with a desire to work harder for better writing. I dedicated my 10th book to him calling him “muse, mentor and friend.”

He was deeply loved by his family; wife, JoAnn, four children, Heather, Helen, Madeline and Brockett III; many lovely grandchildren; his beloved dog “Churchill”; and hundreds of relatives, friends, neighbors, business associates, co-workers, patients, and most everyone who knew him.

And so, dear friend; the night has finally come and taken you out to sea. We, who remain on shore, cannot pretend we are not deeply grieved. But morning will come. And on the morrow we shall rise up with the sun. We shall dry our tears. And we shall shoulder on. We do this in your memory; because of your splendid example to us; your innate cheerfulness, your devotion to duty; your dedication to the betterment of women; your constant standards of excellence; your love of your fellow man; and your total commitment to living a life of honor.

“Good night, sweet prince! May flights of angels take you to your rest!” ©2008  

Dr. Muir’s obituary and photo appear on the Obituaries page of this website.

posted 08.28.2008

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