Editorial: Of the land

“He loved the land and everything that came from it,” says Washington, Va. attorney Doug Baumgardner of his longtime friend, Ray Cannon, who passed away this week at the age of 93. There can be no greater tribute for a Rappahannock County native son.

For places like Rappahannock to retain their good character and sense of place through succeeding generations, as last week’s editorial suggested, there must be “strong family units, close and abiding community ties, and a strong commitment to the land.”

Those values are reflected not only in the life of Newbill Miller, whom the newspaper featured last week, but also in the life of Ray Cannon, whose passing this week is occasion for mourning throughout the county.

Cannon’s family “went back generations” in the county, according to Baumgardner. Like his father, Cannon served as Castleton’s postmaster for decades.

He donated land and helped organize the Castleton Community Fire Department and held every office from the first chief to president. He also helped organize the Rappahannock Lions Club.

In addition to running his cattle farm, El Rancho Grande, Cannon worked as a Realtor. And so he organized his working life to revolve around the land: “He loved to sell it, to buy it and to farm it,” as Baumgardner puts it.

Thus it was that Cannon remained an attentive and careful student, as well as steward, of the natural world during the almost entire century he walked the land that is Rappahannock County.

Walter Nicklin