Washington column for July 24

Smythe retires after 25 years

“Retirement may be an ending, a closing, but it is also a new beginning.” — Catherine Pulsifer

Rose Ann Smythe, the great leader of the Child Care and Learning Center’s children and family programs, retired July 15 after more than 25 years with the center. “It has been a privilege, honor and joy to be at the helm of CCLC for that many years,” said Rose Ann.

Rose Ann Smythe, seen here with her husband Jon, is retiring from CCLC after more than 25 years.
Rose Ann Smythe, seen here with her husband Jon, is retiring from CCLC after more than 25 years. Courtesy photo

Rose Ann graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a degree in special education. She worked as a teacher at Woodrow Wilson, Culpeper and Rappahannock’s public schools until 1989 when she was first hired by CCLC.

Rose Ann volunteered her time for many educational purposes as a Rappahannock school board member, a daycare counselor, chair of the Rappahannock Special Education Advisory Committee and of the Rappahannock Federal Emergency Management Committee, Community Services Board, Early Intervention Council, Culpeper/Rapp Head Start Task Force and CCLC’s board of directors.

Her CCLC tenure started Jan. 2, 1989; she began as an interim director, and shortly thereafter became the executive director. Rose Ann raised her three children while working at the school. She was one busy lady — on the go all the time, helping with all the school’s fundraisers. CCLC was her pride and joy; she left a great legacy behind for others to follow.

“I have never been one to toot my own horn, so if you want to know about any of my accomplishments, you might talk to my staff who have worked alongside me,” said Rose Ann.

Those co-workers and employees had nothing but kind words and praise about her.

“Our esteemed boss, co-worker and friend has left behind a legacy like no other. She has built up this child care and preschool program to what it is today and with her blessings we will continue her campaign to provide quality early childhood education,” said Lisa Pendleton, who is now CCLC’s interim director.

Lisa remembers how Rose Ann was able to pull in donations, grants and scholarships for the center, including helping found the center’s Head Start program. “Rose Ann was instrumental in how our local Skyline Cap Head Start program began . . . It would not have been possible if Rose Ann hadn’t made those first steps to introduce this federal program . . .

“I went to many of these meetings with her as a parent-in-need from Rappahannock County and when she was done, Skyline Cap would serve Madison, Greene, Rappahannock, Warren, Page and Shenandoah counties. She not only made it possible for my boys, Tommy and Ben, to get a strong early education, she paved the way for thousands of kids from our county and the counties around us to get a head start.”

“Our CCLC garden, that is dedicated to the generous and hardworking supporters Ted and Renate Chapman, is in place only because Rose Ann had a vision that our children could learn many things through planting, tending and harvesting,” said CCLC’s Celeste Waggener.

Other co-workers continued to gush over her, praising her devotion and dedication to the center.

“Rose Ann has had many roles in my life over the last two decades,” said Marsha Thompson. “She gave me courage to try different careers and expand my horizons. One position took me away from CCLC for many years, but the center was always an important part of my life. I know that I am a better person because of Rose Ann.”

“From the time she walked in the door until the time she left, she always had energy. She’s our energizer bunny,” agreed Nancy Atkins.

“Rose Ann really cares about every single one of us. She was always willing to help me ever since she met me when I was five years old. She was my ride to CCLC when I was little!” recalled Elvira Yanez.

Kim Goodwin spoke from her heart recalling Rose Ann’s work. “I have always thought of her as more of a friend than as one of her employees. Friendship isn’t about how long you know a person — it’s about who cared and never left your side.”

Rose Ann moved to Luray 11 years ago and has been commuting over the mountain ever since. She said she feels it’s time to turn over the center to someone else, and will be looking for employment on the evening side of the Blue Ridge this fall.

Remember Rose Ann, retirement is a time to do what you want, when you want, where you want and how you want. I wish you happy and fulfilling days as you start life’s next chapter.

The Inn’s wines earn Grand Award

Congratulations to The Inn at Little Washington for yet another accolade.

Wine Spectator recently bestowed its Grand Award on the five-star inn and restaurant. Wine Spectator listed the wine strengths of the Inn at Little Washington as: Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, Spain and Italy. The Inn offers more than 2,400 wine selections from around the world with a strong focus on the wines of Europe and California, according to the inn and restaurant’s website. In the latest round of Grand Award winners, just 74 restaurants worldwide earned the distinction.

Berry season

July is the month for berries. Blueberries come first, wineberries next, raspberries, then blackberries. Blackberries are my favorite. My husband Steve picked enough for his sister Mae to make a cobbler — so good! That cobbler would have won the blue ribbon at any fair, for sure. The bears sure missed out on these berries.

Dwyer reunion

The annual Dwyer family reunion begins at 10 a.m. at the Washington fire hall. Please bring a dish and drink to share. For more information, call Wayne Baldwin at 540-987-8945.

Have a wonderful week everyone!