I was born in the oil town of Wood River, Illinois, which was established when Standard Oil built a refinery there, and also built the town. (Today, Standard Oil is known as ExxonMobil). Growing up in my father’s small hometown in the Missouri Ozarks, I was unaware of the significant roles the oil industry, and later the real estate industry, would play in my adult years. But my maternal great-grandfather was a man with holdings in both oil and real estate, and it would appear that some things are just in the DNA, or perhaps it should simply be considered as my destiny.
Since the age of 24, I have been a Virginia resident. Before that time, as a young adult, I lived in Nuremberg, Germany, where my daughter was born, and ten years later, again in Reilingen, a small village near the Hockenheim Racetrack outside of Heidelberg, Germany. As a result of being domiciled in Germany in two separate decades, I have had the immense pleasure of extensively traveling throughout Europe. I have a grown daughter, a grown son, and one granddaughter.
The first time I set foot in Northern Virginia, where I would become a resident for 30 years, and to quote John Denver from one of his songs, I felt as if "I had come home to a place I had never been before". To this day, it still feels as if I belong to "The Old Dominion", and "The Old Dominion" belongs to me. Perhaps Virginia is also in my DNA since I have three ancestral grandmothers on both sides of my family who were of the Cherokee people of Virginia. My other ancestors were among the Colonial families of British Colonial America. My mother’s European ancestors settled in the second Jamestown in the early 1600s, and my father’s Europeans ancestors settled in the Shenandoah Valley near Roanoke in the early 1700s. A hundred to two hundred years later, both families would make the westward trek by covered wagon to Missouri, arriving there in the early 1800s.
When I first arrived in Virginia in 1974, there was only one office building in Tysons Corner, and Fredericksburg was considered to be “somewhere down south”. It was described to me as a charming historic town steeped in our Nation’s history, and someplace one could explore on a lazy Sunday afternoon. (Today, Fredericksburg is considered to be the southern edge of Northern Virginia.) Route 66 had not yet been built between the Washington Beltway and the District. I-95 was a four-lane highway with the Springfield Mall as its only shopping attraction. There was no 234 Bypass around Manassas. There was no DC metro subway. Centreville and Manassas were mostly comprised of sprawling farmland, and Manassas rolled up the streets at 8:00 pm each evening, with only the McDonalds remaining open until 10:00 pm. The Manassas Mall was nothing more than a strip shopping center all under one roof. Those who moved to the area after 1985 may find all that hard to believe. Early on, the locals described Washington, DC and its surrounding Virginia and Maryland suburbs as just a big, sleepy southern town. In retrospect, I have to say that was true compared to the fact that it is now “a city that never sleeps”.
I started my career in Washington, DC, where I was employed by the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), which was housed in the former Dolly Madison House (famously haunted by Mrs. Madison herself and written up as fact in the Washington Post). Her home, which President Madison purchased after he left office, is directly across from Lafayette Park, and just around the corner from the White House. It was there that I would be obliged to receive a former U.S. Vice President who was on probation for the error of his ways, and who was required to report into the Federal Judge who was the Director of the FJC. I watched history unfold more than once during my years there, to include the first terrorist attack which took place on U.S. soil in the District in 1977 when a militant Islamic group bombed the District's Jewish Center (B'Nai B'rith), City Hall and the Islamic Center of Washington. It was sheer pandemonium in the District that day, with most people trying to get out of town as quickly as possible. All buses were fully loaded, and not even stopping where I normally caught the bus for my return home. By 4:00 pm, every FJC employee had left the Dolly Madison House except me. I walked outside and peered around the corner at the White House. U.S. Military snipers were stationed on top of the Old Executive Office Building next door. They were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with rifles drawn and pointing at the streets below. Seeing that, I felt I was in a fairly safe place, and returned to my office deciding that I would lock the doors and spend the night there, even if the ghost of Mrs. Madison was roaming the hallways. Fortunately, one of my neighbors who also worked in the District, called me to say that he had driven his car to work that day, and was stopping by FJC to pick me up. It was a tense and silent ride home as he manuvered his car through the back streets of the District to avoid the traffic nightmare on the main roads.
It was also in those days that Iranian nationals were marching on the White House protesting the Shah of Iran. I could have reached out and touched them from my office widow, they were that close. Of course, none of that was as scary as the day I realized I had been in the sites of the Washington sniper, which is quite another story, and like the 1977 bombings, too long to detail here. After my days with the FJC, for a number of years, I worked as a DoD Security Administrator for what we here in this part of Virginia call “a Beltway Bandit” (a company with Department of Defense contracts). The company’s military contracts were mostly for the F-14 and F-18 fighter jets, and the Harrier AV8B fighter jet. And then, once again following my husband’s career, I moved to Germany for the second time. My daughter was then 11 years old and looking forward to her return to the land of her birth, which she did not remember since she was only a year old the first time we left Germany. By the time of our return to Germany, my son, who was born in Fairfax Inova Hospital, was 14 months old.
Upon my return to the States, I was employed by Mobil Oil Corporation, where I rose in the ranks of the administrative field to become an Executive Assistant to one of Mobil’s Executive Vice Presidents. Again, there were interesting times with much contact with the international community. In the year 2000, Mobil merged with Exxon, and became the company we all know today as ExxonMobil (the former Standard Oil Company whose refinery was in the town of my birth). On 9/11, I was in the ExxonMobil building and at my desk when I felt the plane hit the Pentagon, which, as the crow flies, was about five miles from our offices. That was another scary time, especially since my daughter, who worked for WorldCom at Tysons Corner, had her principal client in the District, where she made frequent trips. I could not get in contact with her for most of the day, but when I finally did, she told me that she had been in Tysons Corner all day since she was considered essential personnel. My son was a teenager and a student at Valley Forge Military Academy just outside of Philidelphia, PA. I could not get through to the Academy either, and had no way of knowing whether the I-95 bridges between Virginia and Philadelphia would be bombed, making it nearly impossible for me to get to my son. Fortunately, that did not happen, and he was able to remain at school, and my heartbeat finally returned to normal. The next day, the morning commute was like a funeral procesession at 45 mph, with no one being rude on the road, flags flying from cars, slogans written on car windows declaring our loyalty, fidelity, grief, shock and anger. When I arrived at the ExxonMobil building, the parking lot guards, who normally ignored us, were saluting each car as it rolled into the underground parking. Six months later, in 2002, I took early retirement from ExxonMobil, and then a year's sabbatical from the professional workplace.
Feeling that the real estate arena was my destiny, I gained my real estate license in early 2003. My clientele was initially in Northern Virginia, but because they were moving further south down the Route 29 corridor, I frequently found myself working in the counties of Fauquier, Culpeper and Orange. So, in 2004, I thought it prudent to relocate my residence to Lake of the Woods in Locust Grove, VA, where I still reside. Lake of the Woods is located in the historic area of Germanna, and is halfway between Culpeper and Fredericksburg. While I am affiliated with the Fredericksburg office of Century 21 Redwood Realty, because they have several offices in Northern Virginia, I am still able to comfortably and efficiently work that area and points south, east and west of there.
After gaining my Realtor’s license, I have never looked back, and absolutely love working with houses and people. Purchasing a home is the largest investment most people make in their lifetime, and for many, it can be daunting, if not more than a little scary. I take satisfaction from paving the way for my clients, working out the knots if there are any, and making it a seamless and happy experience for them. I also take pride in my work, and whatever field I may choose to work in, others find me to be a thorough, dedicated professional with an unparalleled attention to detail to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner. The greatest compliment I have ever received was given to me by my grown son, who said, “Whatever or whoever is placed in my mother’s path, she will take care of to the very best of her ability with the resources made available to her.” Century 21 Redwood Realty has made marvelous resources available to me, and I am honored to be affiliated with a real estate brokerage firm that gives me such great resources with which to faithfully serve my clients.
Coffee or tea
Years in Real Estate
The Mists of Avalon
Favorite Sport & Team
Baseball (STL Cardinals)
Rehoboth Beach, DE