March 2, 2016
Faces of Fauquier: She works for town’s prosperity
“The whole idea of the partnership is to preserve and enhance the cultural and historic charm of Remington and the surrounding areas,” Mary Root says.
When you are in a crowded area like Fairfax County, everybody rushes past you; they don’t want to stop and talk and they are not particularly friendly anymore. I just wanted to get to where there was a little more space and where you could get to know people better.
She takes advocating for the historical preservation of her community very seriously.
Since Mary Root moved to town 22 years ago, she has worked to save a metal truss bridge and a freight train depot through her involvement with the Remington Community Partnership, a non-profit organization.
“The whole idea of the partnership is to preserve and enhance the cultural and historic charm of Remington and the surrounding areas,” Mrs. Root said. “We’re trying to help the Town of Remington’s economy as much as we can with heritage tourism. Otherwise, if you don’t have some kind of economy here, you end up being a bedroom community, where everyone is gone during the day, and that’s not how this town works. The heart of it is the agriculture.”
Stretching over the Rappahannock River, connecting Civil War battlefields in Fauquier and Culpeper County, the old Routes 15/29 Business bridge stands “in a really historically sensitive area,” Mrs. Root said.
“We’ve been trying to get VDOT to repair the bridge. We’re dead against them replacing it with a concrete bridge and demolishing the rock walls,” Mrs. Root said. “They’re doing demolition by neglect, the same thing they did with the Waterloo Bridge, by just ignoring it.”
Mrs. Root hopes to increase Remington’s tourism by bringing public access to the Rappahannock River near the bridge.
In the past, she worked with the Piedmont Environmental Council and other groups to save the Rappahannock Station battlefield knoll.
Last May, she helped save Remington’s 140-year-old freight depot, which will one day house a museum.
A history buff and unofficial spokesperson for Remington, Mrs. Root said she moved to the town because of the 103-year-old house she and her husband Ray bought.
Almost entirely surrounded by townhouses, the house belonged to the community pharmacist, William Walden Ashby.
A surveyor by trade, Mrs. Root began her career at one of the largest surveying and engineering companies in Northern Virginia four decades ago, when few women worked in the field.
“I got chosen for a lot of the cool projects,” including surveying the White House for the National Park Service in the 1980s, a Washington Monument settlement, Hains Point and more.
“I spent three years underground surveying Metro,” she said of an assignment in the 1980s. The work was “very precise.”
The Roots moved to Fauquier from Fairfax County after Northern Virginia grew too crowded for their taste.
She decided to get involved in her community because, “I love this place and I love its people. And because I think on my parents’ watch, they could have fought a little bit harder to save Burke. I was just a kid, and the bulldozers came and it ruined everything. And, everyone left. The whole village got scattered to the wind, and I just thought, ‘Gosh,’ we can’t let that happen in Fauquier, at least not on my watch’.”
Licensed land surveyor, Root Surveys, local surveying and subcontracting firm, 1994-present; member, Fauquier County Architectural Review Board, 2002-present; land surveyor, Dewberry & Davis, 1979-94.
• Why do you do the job?
Being outdoors. The combination of doing precision measuring, turning angles, reading distances and knowing what to look for to build a terrain map for somebody who is 50 miles away in an office.
You are the eyes out in the open field and the juxtaposition of that was seeing amazing things all the time: wildlife, a weather phenomenon or an amazing plant you’ve never seen before. It’s that type of thing where every day is different. Plus, there is the beauty and purity of mathematics. I wasn’t particularly good at math in school, but then I really loved it once I got the right instructor. I found out my grandfather was a surveyor.
Master’s degree, fine arts design, George Washington University, 1983; bachelor’s, art history, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1977; West Springfield High School, 1973.
• Civic involvement
Chairman, Remington Community Partnership, member since its founding in 2001. Wrote brochure for walking tours of Remington and helped develop bicycle tours near Remington; board member, Citizens for Fauquier County; Surveyors Historical Society, editor of its publication “Backsights.”
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
• Why do you live here?
Because it’s not Fairfax. To get to know your neighbors again. When you are in a crowded area like Fairfax County, everybody rushes past you; they don’t want to stop and talk and they are not particularly friendly anymore. I just wanted to get to where there was a little more space and where you could get to know people better.
I was telling high school students who came to visit Remington last week, you need to think long and hard about where you want to be in society . . . . Do you want to be a little fish in a big pond, like anyone in Fairfax would be, or do you want to be a big fish in a small pond. To me, it’s a no-brainer. Why would you want to just be another face in a mall up there?
• How do you describe this county?
Agricultural, historical and plenty of friendly people.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
Make some of the service districts smaller. I don’t think we have enough water and sewer to go around, and I don’t like that the Remington’s service district practically smacks into Bealeton, because if it gets built up at both edges, it’s going to look like sprawl. They are including too much floodplain. Floodplains shouldn’t be in a service district at all.
• What do you do for fun?
When it’s warm we go canoeing on the Rappahannock River and fishing. Camping, hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Under the Lakota Bridge, 10 miles away where Route 651 crosses into Culpeper County. Fish or sit in your lawn chair in the water and read a book and listen to the water.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I imagine it will stay somewhat the same as long as we can keep VDOT from widening all the roads. Hopefully we will have more heritage tourists by then if we can get the (railroad) museum open and the battlefield park open. Then, I can see good things happening in Remington.
• Favorite TV show?
• Favorite movie?
“Remember the Titans.”
• Favorite book?
Before I go to bed, I’m reading Agatha Christie’s “The Pale Horse.”
• Favorite vacation spot?
The beach. Bethany Beach, Del.
• Favorite food?
Whatever Ray makes.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
There was a brand new thing at Dewberry and I brought all the paperwork home to Mr. and Mrs. Root, my in-laws. It was this new program called a 401(k) and they read through it and said do it. That was great advice. As I near retirement, I thank heavens I have my 401(k).
• Who’s your hero and why?
Both my grandmothers. They were born around 1900 and in their lifetimes, they witnessed the financial collapse of 1907 and then when they were of dating age, all the young men they knew went off to World War I, and just before that, the great flu epidemic. The next thing you know, they get married and have kids and their sons went off to World War II. Right before that was the Great Depression. Those ladies were so tough to get their families through those crises. People complain nowadays and I think, good Lord, you have not studied your history.
• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Pay off the house and go on a series of trips — Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia and New Zealand, and explore more of the U.S.
Suggest a profile candidate
Previous Faces of Fauquier:
• 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
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BJ · March 3, 2016 at 10:29 am
Mary Root is my kind of human being! Someone who respects the past, and looks to the future.
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