Kathy and Larry Grove live in the bucolic Rappahannock countryside, Woodville to be exact, in a home built in the early 1700’s with later additions in the 1800’s and today. The home reeks of history and secrets, the walls once plastered over, revealed themselves under Kathy and Larry’s stewardship, rich timber, a log cabin with character. They live amidst their 200 acres speckled with 40 head of angus cattle, chickens and pigs, producing naturally raised beef, pork and eggs.
Which leads me to why so many folks in Rappahannock know both Kathy and Larry. They are the quintessential volunteers, folks who emulate all that is good in the county, all that is about giving back, and giving back is something they both do exceedingly well.
Larry has been on the school board since 2014, Kathy interim superintendent in 2013, and also Head of Wakefield Country Day for 8 years; my son Hans Doxzen, an alum, continues to hold her with the utmost respect and considers her an amazing leader and mentor. Upon hearing that I was interviewing her for this column, he laughed good naturedly and suggested I ask her if he still needed to tuck in his shirt. Doug Schiffman of RappU fame, calls her “the Dean.” She and Larry are active in the Lion’s Club, Headwaters, the 4 H Club, the Sperryville Fire Department and Rescue Squad, and their volunteerism goes on.
Both are educational gurus, highly respected in counseling and teaching, and Larry knew as a young boy, indeed as early as the 5th grade, of his chosen career path as an inspiring teacher of children. He still remembers the name of his mentor, whom he tells sparked his direction, Mr. Costello. Kathy was a psychology and English major, then moved on to earn her Master’s, adding the fine discipline of education. He’s of German stock, Kathy of Irish, a wonderful blend of history and rich ancestral roots.
Kathy’s family hails from Red Oak Mountain, as in the early 1700’s, the Gores and Johnsons. Many know Tom and Cole Johnson, active in the community and Kathy’s closest living relatives. Larry comes from a farming background in Fauquier.
Both held a variety of positions in the Arlington Public School systems, Larry a principal for many years, Kathy an assistant superintendent. Upon retiring they yearned to return to this county, to her family home in the Blue Ridge, where Larry could return to farming, his dream to raise cattle. A country home in the hamlet of Woodville, 40 years vacant, went up for sale and within a day the deal was done. Many an improvement later, including an outbuilding appointed with a castle’s table long enough to fit their five grown children, spouses and seven grandchildren for myriad holiday celebrations.
In their home, one cannot miss walls plastered with 150-year-old photos depicting a rich ancestral history. Kathy shares several stories of lore: “Grandmother Crim” in Luray, where the family earned an income rolling cigars; family cemeteries on Red Oak Mountain, where children are buried; and the recent discovery that Great-Aunt Johnson actually lived at one time in the home they so now enjoy.