Local businessman and pastor is grand marshal of Urbanna Oyster Festival
by Larry Chowning
The Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation Board of Directors has named Edward P. Harrow Sr. of Deltaville grand marshal of the 2013 Urbanna Oyster Festival that will be held Friday and Saturday, November 1-2.
“I love people. I hope I’ve helped people because I will tell you this . . . a lot of people have helped me,” said Harrow, a longtime county businessman and minister.
Harrow, 80, is chairman of Lawyers Title Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Agency Inc. and Middle Peninsula Insurance Agency Inc. but he is most noted around Middlesex County and throughout Virginia for his longtime dedication to the ministry. He is currently the minister of Hermitage Baptist Church in Church View.
A Middlesex native, he graduated in 1951 in the second graduating class of Middlesex High School. Syringa and Saluda high schools consolidated during the 1949-50 school year to create Middlesex High School in Saluda.
Born and raised in Deltaville, Harrow graduated from Bluefield College and attended the University of Richmond before entering the seminary at Vanderbilt University. Although Harrow was deferred from going into the service, he joined the Army and was stationed in Butzbach, Germany, a town 40 miles from Frankfurt.
He was elected to two terms as Middlesex County Commissioner of Revenue and served in that position from 1960 to 1968.
When leaving the county job, he and his late wife Beverly bought his uncle’s insurance business (J.A. Johnson’s Insurance Agency). They built the business into one of the largest agencies in the region. Today, one of his sons, Joe, runs the business.
Harrow and attorney Jimmy Ward later founded the Lawyers Title Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Inc. in Saluda, and another of Harrow’s sons, Eddie, runs that business.
About 30 years ago, Harrow went back to the ministry and has been pastor at Glebe Landing Baptist, St. Stephens Baptist, Poroporone Baptist, Harmony Grove Baptist, and Fairfield Baptist churches. In 2008 he opened the Virginia General Assembly with the invocation. “The last 30 years in the ministry have been some of the happiest days of my life,” he said.
Harrow is on numerous boards of directors for banks and other organizations but he is most proud of his work as chairman of the Piankatank River Boys Camp Commission in Hartfield, a Baptist camp on the Piankatank River.
Harrow remarried after Beverly’s death, and he and his wife Sondra have six children and 15 grandchildren between them.
Harrow thanked the foundation for honoring him and said he looks forward to participating in all the Urbanna Oyster Festival activities.
A longtime friend and business associate, Buddy Moore, said the reason the Oyster Festival Foundation selected Harrow as grand marshal is because he is “a man whose life has offered him the opportunity to experience many facets of life, which has given him the ability to relate to everyone he meets.
“Edward Harrow was born and raised in Middlesex County and has enjoyed triumph in life and suffered tragedy,” said Moore. “He was born with the innate ability to communicate with people and it has served him well in business and as a pastor.
“He has done more to help Middlesex County than anyone I have known in the 60 years I’ve been associated here,” Moore said. “He is a man who has served his family well, served his country well, and served his Lord well.”
Russell Sibley worked with Harrow when he was minister at Harmony Grove Baptist Church. “I worked with him very closely when he was interim pastor at our church,” Sibley said. “He was a great interim pastor and he’s just a good people person. All ages feel comfortable around him. The young people love Edward because he is never too busy to listen to what they have to say.
“He is not judgmental and he has a way to bring out the good in any situation that comes forth,” said Sibley. “He always seems to have a way to bring out the positive side.”
Oyster Festival Foundation board member Charles Bristow has known Harrow his entire life. “Edward has done a great deal for families here in the county and in surrounding counties,” said Bristow. “And he has done it in a very quiet way, often in the most difficult times of their lives. Edward is just Edward—waiting to help someone in need.”