Like many (perhaps most) native sons, F. Preston Pulliam left Rappahannock County at an early age to seek his fortune elsewhere. But Pres, who died on Sunday at the age of 92, never really left, for he kept returning, falling in love all over again and again with the beauty that is the land that is Rappahannock. “There’s probably not a piece of property in the county that Pres had not at one time or another either owned or put a contract on,” says one longtime friend.
Born and reared in Woodville, Pres served in World War II with the Marines in the Pacific Theater, sold insurance in Alexandria, and later lived and worked in Warrenton. And yet his heart was always faithfully wedded to Rappahannock County, his very first and most enduring love. “In fact, I heard he was looking at properties up to two weeks before he died,” says the friend, chuckling.
Unlike many older people (myself included), he was not especially nostalgic about the good old days, but was always open-minded to new ideas and welcomed well-reasoned challenges to conventional thinking. Bill McGibbon, the environmentalist and climate activist, should be U.S. President, in Pres’ opinion. Yes, Pres was not your typical real estate wheeler-dealer! But he was — all whose lives he touched agree — a true Virginia gentleman.
Readers of this newspaper are probably most familiar with Pres from his poetry that was sometimes published in these pages. He preferred anonymity and went by the nom de plume of “The Hazel River Bard.” Of one November election, he penned:
Did we win or did we lose?
Did we send or did we choose?
Our weather now dictates its own strange change,
Like it or no, time to rearrange . . . .
Time to rearrange the human portfolio
Pres was a reader, even collector, of obituaries. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had written his own. In which case this newspaper — of which he was a great friend, if for no other reason than it’s named Rappahannock — should surely publish it. In the meantime, his poem he called “Time — Lifeline” will have to do:
Time — Tempers.
Time — Distorts.
Time — Whimpers.
Time — Exhorts!