John and Judy Tole
John — President, Rappahannock Historical Society (RHS); RappU instructor; coordinator, Civil War Trails Program; former RCPS School Board Chair; Christmas tree farmer; author; retired engineer.
Judy — Executive director of RHS; former coordinator at the Free Clinic; co-founder of Headwater’s Starfish Mentoring Program; computer lab instructor, Rappahannock High School; retired nurse.
John and Judy live in Woodville.
The Spark — Judy: “I love solving puzzles and history. Helping people discover their genealogical roots is what drives me.” John: “A high school teacher ignited my passion for history and music. Living here gave me the opportunity to parlay those interests into my work at the historical society and Civil War history in Rappahannock.”
Proudest Achievement — Judy: “First, my family — two wonderful grown children, and a grandson. Second, expanding and modernizing the RHS database so many generations of Rappahannock residents can learn about their family history.” John: “I think my work on the Civil War Trail markers was most important. The lessons from that period are universal and timeless.”
Biggest Challenge — Judy: “Keeping RHS financially solvent. If it’s gone, it’s gone, and we don’t want that to happen.” John: “The whole idea of a historical society is to ensure that it continues into the future. Keeping it going, that’s our biggest challenge.”
Why It Matters — Judy: “Listening and watching people come in here and discover things about their family history is an incredible experience. That’s when you realize how important it is.” John — “Although we live in a small place, we are dealing with humanity and the collective memories of our community. We can learn from past lessons that can apply to the present and inspire the future.”
Favorite Rappahannock Treasure — Judy: “The people who were born and raised here and whose values continue in the county. Their ancestors gave this place its start.” John: “The peacefulness in our community. There is a sense of peace and calm in the way of life here.”
— by Bob Hurley for Foothills Forum