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July 17, 2020

Faces of Fauquier: He takes pride in moving dirt

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“Coming over Paris Mountain into Delaplane is possibly one of the most beautiful sites I think you see anywhere I’ve been to in the world,” Richard H. “Dick” McCarty III says.
There’s some satisfaction in knowing that you have created something that other people depend on. It gives a sense of accomplishment and gives people pleasure.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
In a way, the successful excavator owes his career to a dream never realized.

From early childhood through his late teens, Richard H. “Dick” McCarty III worked beside his father on the extended family’s 300-acre farm near Delaplane and hoped someday to take over the operation.

But things didn’t unfold the way he expected.

“When I graduated from high school, I remember my rude awakening,” said Mr. McCarty, 64, smiling broadly. “I had always been interested in farming. So, I started telling my dad, ‘You know, we ought to put this field in corn and we ought to do this, we ought to do that’.”

The father patiently listened to the son’s grand ideas.

“Then he said, ‘All those are really nice plans’,” Mr. McCarty remembered. “But he said, ‘Honestly, this farm is just big enough for one person for farming. The problem is I was here first’.”

Mr. McCarty couldn’t believe what he had just heard.

“‘What do you mean?’” he questioned his father. “‘You aren’t stepping aside?’ He said, ‘No. I’m still farming’.”

Not long after that, the 19-year-old and his future wife Florence Whorton went to the Prince William County Fair.

“As we were walking through the concessions, this guy hands me a book of matches that said ‘IBEW,’ which is International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and he said, ‘Why don’t you become an apprentice?’ ”

Mr. McCarty inspected the matchbook and decided on the spot that he would give the electrical trade a try.

“I needed to do some to something,” he said.

Mr. McCarty served a four-year apprenticeship, worked for two companies, got his master electrician’s license and started his own business — McCarty Electric Co. Inc., in 1985.

But in the early 1990s electrical “work was very difficult to get” because of the recession, and he decided that the company needed a different and more dependable revenue stream.

“We had this equipment we had to put to use,” Mr. McCarty explained. “A friend called and wanted to know if we could put in a drainfield. I’d never done one but figured, ‘Sure. If other people can do it, I ought to be able to do it’.”

Before moving a grain of dirt, he consulted a savvy old-timer and friend who talked him through the drainfield installation process.

“That’s basically what got me started in excavation,” Mr. McCarty said of the drainfield project. “Then one thing led to another and another and another. And then we ended up with other equipment and started doing other things.”

He added: “It was nothing necessarily by design. It just started happening that way.”

Mr. McCarty serves as company president and his wife vice president. Mrs. McCarty, who co-owns the business, also works as a financial analyst for Greystone Servicing Co. in Warrenton.

Trading as McCarty Contracting, the company constructs drainfields, builds roads, installs and repairs ponds, clears land, develops home sites, creates water systems to serve livestock and does some electrical work.

The company has six employees and about 10 pieces of equipment.

“We’re small but take pride in the work we do,” Mr. McCarty said.

• Age

• Home 
Near Delaplane.

• Work
President/co-owner, McCarty Electric Co., trading as McCarty Contracting, Delaplane, 1985 to present.

• Why do you do the job?
There’s some satisfaction in knowing that you have created something that other people depend on. It gives a sense of accomplishment and gives people pleasure — whether it’s a pond, a house site or a road or clearing off land.

With farmers, it was having a barn full of hay. My dad always said he slept well when you know the barn was full of hay.

For me, it’s knowing that I’ve done a job for somebody and given them something that they’ve wanted, or something that they needed to help them get along their way.

• Family
Wife, Florence; five children, five grandchildren.

• Education
Fauquier High School, 1974.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
All my life.

• Why do you live here? 
Probably because of being so deeply rooted here with my family — the McCarty side and the Delaplane side. All these relations around here, I mean the whole area is home. I never had the desire to move anywhere else. I like being here.

• How do you describe this county? 
It’s a beautiful county, there’s no denying that. Coming over Paris Mountain into Delaplane is possibly one of the most beautiful sites I think you see anywhere I’ve been to in the world.

All the green and the ponds, it’s just pristine. That’s a precious, precious view.

There are changes, of course. Even here, I think the count is up to eight new houses I can see from outside our yard — more so than when we were kids.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
I would love to be able to give my children property from the (family) farm so that they could build a house. But we can’t change the zoning law. So, I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to with that, or how that will change.

• What do you do for fun? 
Spend time with my family. I like to socialize with my friends — ones that moved away and ones that are still here.

I enjoy going to church. We just started going back to (Delaplane’s Emanuel Episcopal) Church. Last Sunday was our first Sunday back since the coronavirus. It was an outside service, of course. And lots of concessions had to be made — 6 feet apart and wearing masks.

But it just felt so good to be back. It almost felt like a homecoming of a sort.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
I think one of the prettiest places — you have almost a 360-degree view — is coming out of Rectortown, headed towards Upperville. As you get out of Rectortown, you get at the peak of that hill and you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains all the way around.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
I can’t see — with the current attention there is being paid to conservation — a lot of change to what you see now.

I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of new houses. I think you’ll see just different owners of what we have.

• Favorite TV show?
“Andy Griffith

• Favorite movie? 
“Oh, Brother Where Art Thou”

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Emerald Isle, N.C.

• Favorite food? 

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My dad. Do unto others as you would have the do unto you. Treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s what I try to live my life by. I try to treat people respectfully.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My wife is a good hero. When we got married — we were both working — she decided to go to college. And she never quit, never gave up. And at the age of about 50, she finally got her bachelor’s degree (in finance from the University of Mary Washington in 2007).

That, to me, is an example for so many of what someone can do when they don’t lose track of their goal.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
What’s the saying? You keep farming till the money runs out.

Have a suggestion?
Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? Email Don Del Rosso at or Lou Emerson at
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