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March 23, 2016

Faces of Fauquier: He ensures things sound right

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Bob Rankin works as a part-time media specialist for Fauquier County government.
When I first moved here, there were no shopping centers in Fauquier. There were four drug stores on Main Street. There was a movie theatre. You could buy candy for a penny on Main Street.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
His behind-the-scenes work archives Fauquier County supervisors’ and school board meetings.

A kind, laidback technology veteran, Bob Rankin handles audio and video production for meetings, community events, school plays, the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase races and even gubernatorial inaugurations.

Mr. Rankin’s fascination with audio, radio and other media started with his appearance as a 5-year-old on “The Art Lamb Show” in Washington, D.C., where a WTTG (Channel 5) studio cameraman let him look through the viewfinder.

“When I was 7, I built my first radio with help from my uncle and, when I was 9, I built a short-wave radio and I just kept on going,” Mr. Rankin said.

A 59-year county resident, Mr. Rankin grew up near New Baltimore and attended the then-new Fauquier High School from eighth grade through graduation.

“You got to meet everybody,” Mr. Rankin said. “There were so many students there, you couldn’t get through the halls.

“I hated school, and I told my wife when I walked across the stage for graduation that I would never set foot in that building again,” he joked. “I have the keys to that building in my pocket right now.”

In high school he owned a PA system, rare for a student back then, he said.

Mr. Rankin’s radio knowledge prepared him for the draft during the Vietnam War. He served eight months as a radioman there with the U.S. Army Security Agency in 1970.

“We were an aviation company, so we flew fixed-wing airplanes and ended up at the back end of every airbase in Vietnam.”

When he returned to Fauquier, Mr. Rankin continued to work for Bell Atlantic, later to become part of C&P Telephone and then Verizon, for 33 more years.

Today, as a county employee, he focuses on balancing audio and video recordings at supervisors’ and school board meetings.

“I’m listening to make sure they are hearable on the tape and the live-stream feed,” Mr. Rankin said of the supervisors’ meetings in the former dining room of the old Warren Green Hotel, remodeled for government use. “The most rewarding part of it, I just really enjoy watching people that take a lot of their time out of their lives to try to help things here.”

He also works part time for GW Sound, providing services for horse races and other events.

“I’ve been part of the audio crew for the last three governors’ inaugurations” — Tim Kaine, Robert McDonnell and Terry McAuliffe, Mr. Rankin said.

• Age
68

• Home
Marshall

• Work
Part-time, audio/video/media specialist, Fauquier County government (including school board meetings), 2003 to present; audio/video technician, Fauquier County Public Schools, 1992 to 2015; part-time technician, GW Sound, working at events that include Gold Cup, Foxfield Races, Montpelier Races and gubernatorial inaugurations, 1998 to present; Middleburg Broadcasting, 1995-2015; technician, Verizon, 1968 and 1970-2003; radio technician, U.S. Army, 1968-70, including a tour in Vietnam.

• Why do you do the job?
I started it just because I had never done any real video stuff before, and I got to the point where I liked it. It’s really interesting. You get to know the people who are on these boards and, since I’ve been doing this, the school board and board of supervisors, every person that has been on every one of these boards has been nice. They are just regular people who want to make a positive change for the county.

• Family
Wife, Carol; four children, Jennifer, Anne, Stephen and Caroline, and12 grandchildren.

• Education
Fauquier High School, 1968.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Member, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Warrenton; audiovisual specialist at the church since 1976.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Since 1957.

• Why do you live here?
I just like it here. My children live in Fauquier or Prince William County. Our friends at church. We like it. Where we live right now, our neighbors are cows. I’ve never lived around a lot of livestock, but it’s peaceful. When I first moved here, it was a lot more rural than it is right now. Route 29 was a two-lane road.

• How do you describe this county?
A lot has changed in Fauquier County. When I first moved here, there were no shopping centers in Fauquier. There were four drug stores on Main Street. There was a movie theatre. You could buy candy for a penny on Main Street.

Growth, as far as business, kind of jumped Fauquier County and went from Prince William pretty much to Culpeper. Wherein lies a problem, because you don’t have a business base for your taxes. You have tax eaters, which are homes. That’s one of the problems why we don’t have the money we need to keep our schools in good shape.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
The Internet is a fact of life in the world now. You can’t do anything without the Internet. I think we make life difficult by not having (adequate) Internet, and we make life difficult because we seem to be so opposed to building whatever it takes to have the Internet. Being a radio guy, I love towers, but I can understand why people don’t. We need to be able to provide Internet access and cell service for the entire county.

• What do you do for fun?
My hobbies are anything to do with radio. I videotape a lot of stuff. I like to try to come up with ways that make broadcasting and PA system work easier and better.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
I like the rural areas. My wife and I just drive around. There are beautiful places in Fauquier County.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
A lot more housing, hopefully some business growth, but still try to hold onto the character of Fauquier County as it is now. I’d like to see the town do something with the Mosby Museum. Fauquier County has a great deal of history, and we need to make that into tourism. I think tourism is our biggest industry now.

• Favorite TV show?
“M*A*S*H.” I’m a big World War II history buff. I like the History Channel and National Geographic.

• Favorite Movie?
“Casablanca”

• Favorite book?
I’m really interested in English history from the 800/900s to 1500/1600s and Virginia history.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Ocracoke, N.C.

• Favorite food?
Steak and potatoes.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I had run into a captain who wasn’t very nice. My first sergeant in Vietnam told me, you’re going to run into mean people no matter where you are. And he was right. Instead of dwelling on it, you need to move on.

• Who’s your hero and why?
Men and women in the service who provide the cover of protection that we all lie under that allows us to be the greatest country in the world.

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
I’ve only bought two lottery tickets in my life. Buy a house in North Carolina and try to help my kids. If I won a bunch of money, I would probably give most of it away.


Suggest a profile candidate

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• Mary Root works for Remington’s prosperity.

• Law becomes the family business for William Ashwell.

• Eddie Wines logs four decades on patrol with the sheriff’s office.

• Kelly Kraft greets Wawa customers with a smile and a song.

• NAACP leader James Kelly wants to contribute.

• Lora Gookin trades career as civil engineer for that of bakery owner.

• Remington Baptist Pastor David Blevins devotes himself to helping others.

• Civics a passion for Fauquier election poll worker Ben McCartney.

• Philip Mulford makes a career of the search for middle ground.


• “Midland to the bone,” says native Matthew Smith.

• Sherrie Carter’s creativity becomes her business.

• Starting her career, Liberty graduate Judy Heflin wants to be a great teacher.

• Social Services Director Jan Selbo has devoted her career to helping others.

• Jim Cirillo’s call to Casanova extended.


• Don’t tell Angela Deal, Ms. Wheelchair Fauquier, that she can’t do something.

• FHS graduate and business owner Cathy Dodson finds all she needs right here.

• Mike Harvey’s sweet work takes lots of sweat.

• Warrenton native Joan Williams still serving her community.

• Classic cars consume engineer Matt Innocenzi’s free time.

• Wood transformed in the hands of Edward Fox.

• Earl Arrington serves printing customers and his community.

• Michael Hughes wears music, threater and equestrian hats.

• Store in Goldvein part of Susan Leopold’s family legacy.

• County native Maggi MacQuilliam devoted to the great outdoors.

• Health care for the needy Rob Marino’s mission.

• Daphne Latimore focuses on human capital.

• Horses extend Louise Summers’ work as teacher.

• As volunteer coach, Jeff Budd develops young wrestlers.


• Fraces Allshouse’s jobs focus on preservation.

• Jessica Smolinski’s book introduces children to Old Town Warrenton.

• Margaret Rice’s job all about fitness and fun in Warrenton.


• Robert Sturgeon has built his 70-employee businesses in Bealeton from scratch.

• 4-H leader Zach Woodward relishes the lessons of farming.

• Hospital auxiliary volunteer Alison Lee also earned fame in drag racing circles.

• Highland School veteran staff member Lise Hicklin always wanted to teach.


• As 9-1-1 dispatcher, Kateland Rich works to maintain calm during crisis.

• Chaplain Liz Danielsen finds a giving community.


• 9-1-1 response in Rodney Woodward’s bloodline.

• Fast talk a tool of the trade for auctioneer Kathy Shumate.

• Sam Poles takes care of varmits.

• Diane King mentors student performers at Fresta Valley Christian School.


• Lewis F. Lee Jr. followed his father into taxidermy business.

• Edward Payne returns to Orlean and to photography with passion.

• Janet Metzger’s Old Town Warrenton shop a hub of creativity.

• Pablo Teodoro bakes to build community.

• Community trails have become passion for retired VDOT engineer Bob Moore.


• Teresa Reynolds makes transition from butcher to museum director.

• After working in New York and Italy, Christine Fox moved home to open fashion boutique 25 years ago.

• Steve Lewis develops hunting reality show on Dish Network.

• Julia Trumbo grew up in the family grocery business.

• Tax preparer Renée Turner enjoys owning a business in Old Town Warrenton.

• ICU staff Carol Jones values patients’ trust.


• Wilson Sanabria grew up working in his family’s Warrenton restaurant and learning to box.

• One-man band Peter Fakoury quit 9-to-5 to learn from children.

• Liberty graduate Brittany Aubrey works in the smile business.

• Walmart cashier Lulu Baer loves to play violin and several community roles.

• In Sandra Alm, SPCA dogs have a loyal companion.

• St. James’ Episcopal new Rector Ben Maas appreciates community’s embrace

• Bicycles dominate work and play for Brian Larson.

• Teaching music therapy combines Abigail Newman’s passions.

• Brenda Rich leads volunteers who organize and run the Fauquier County Fair.

• 1st Sgt. Greg Harris stresses empathy in his job as a supervisor at the county detention center.


• Chuck Tippett challenges the “rich guy” stereotype about pilots.


• County government employee Surja Tamang previously worked as a Mt. Everest sherpa.

• Woody Isaac found his calling as a chef at age 16.

• Horses take Tommy Lee Jones all over the county.


• Retired nurse Angela Neal continues to volunteer in hospital ER.

• Gilmer Lee really knows high school sports in Fauquier.

• Stage remains central to Tim Bambara’s life journey.

• Bus driver Melissa Strain’s weekend job all about “fun.”


• Bartender Taylor Edgar has a pretty good standup routine.

• A nomad childhood led Paul Schmeling to start a moving company.


• Adam Lynch’s family owns café with local food focus and a special name.

• Patricia McMahon Rice turns passion for art into her livelihood.

• Cindy D’Ambro works as “director of first impressions” at LFCC.

• Ginger Hilleary leads local literacy organization.

• Farmers with groundhog problems call Rod Kirkpatrick.


• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.


• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.


• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.


• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.


• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people


• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.


• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.


• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.


• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.


• Pastor a constant in Calverton.


• She keeps the courthouse spotless.


• He loves working working outdoors at the park.


• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton


Member comments
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ClaireR · March 25, 2016 at 9:49 am
One of the nicest people you will ever meet!
Jim Griffin · March 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm
Bob, you sound like a very interesting guy. I hope we meet! Thanks for your service to the community and happy you have a passion to indulge.
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