By Olan Beam, Photography By John Walsh

bbt_perspectives_ripleys_feature

We all have differing opinions and visions of what champions look like, but when you meet Lynn and Bob Ripley, it won’t take long to realize you’ve found a couple that knows how to champion a cause they believe in.

By the late 1990s, Lynn and Bob had already championed a range of causes through hard work and with integrity, but their priority had turned toward their future retirement. Enjoyment of hunting, a passion for animals and nature, and Bob’s avocation for training his dog, a Master National Retriever Club qualified Chesapeake Bay Retriever, led Lynn and Bob to some specific interests and parameters as they started to look for the perfect spot to retire.

Finding a Place Like No Other

“In addition to finding a place where we wanted to retire, having acreage and water access was important for me to work with my dog,” explained Bob. Yet, both Lynn and Bob were looking at more than just the physical features of a property: it also had to feel right. “It had to give us a feeling like we were home,” said Bob. “We were already familiar with the area, so we took a map and during an almost four year period, went up and down about every road that led to large acreage tracks with water frontage. We knew about this one, as it was the first property we tried to visit, but had heard that the family wasn’t interested in selling. Later, when Lynn learned it was finally for sale, she jumped into her car and went to see it. Then we got a call . . .”

The call from the owners was to invite Bob and Lynn out to visit. In brief, the meeting was a success. “A wonderful retired couple owned the property and they were ready to sell – but it had to be to the right people,” explained Lynn. “They wanted the new owners to love the property as much as they had and to keep the property intact. We met them and their whole family. We courted for a few months, but I think we all knew from that first meeting that this was it. Bob and I certainly felt like this property would be our home. I remember telling Bob, ‘I’m going to live the rest of my life here.’”

The Cause Finds The Ripleys

As you hear Bob and Lynn tell the story about finding their home, it’s hard to believe there isn’t something special here that draws the right people to it. Bob and Lynn happened to be just the right people to reveal to the world how special their new home is – and was.

After moving, as Bob and Lynn walked their 264 acres and ran their dog, Lynn’s keen eyes were drawn to items strewn throughout the property. On every walk, it seemed Lynn returned with several unique items. Lynn found shards of Native American pottery, arrowheads and other uniquely shaped or colored items. “I never saw a thing, but Lynn could almost sense where items were located. They just seemed out of place to her,” said Bob. “As her collection grew and we discussed them with folks in the area, the interest in and awareness of the finds grew. Eventually, some local archaeologists came out to see what Lynn had found. The quantity and quality of the Native American artifacts found told them that Lynn had discovered something extraordinary.”

Werowocomoco Rediscovered

At that point, the local archaeologists invited E. Randolph Turner, III, Ph.D., of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for a visit. He is an expert on Native Virginian culture and a recognized authority on Werowocomoco, the long lost seat of power of Chief Powhatan and the political center of the Virginia Algonquian Indians.

“I’ll never forget our first meeting with Dr. Turner,” said Bob. “He got out of his car with a big smile on his face, looked at our property and viewed the artifacts in Lynn’s lab. Then he said, ‘I believe you’ve found Werowocomoco.’ I can’t tell you how captivating that revelation was for both Lynn and me. We had no idea.”

Werowocomoco was a large village on the York River and the home of Chief Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas, and in 1607 they crossed paths with Capt. John Smith – all historic figures later made famous by books, movies and folklore. The village had been the secular and religious center of the Powhatan people until the early 1600s, but soon afterward it vanished from all English language historical accounts for almost 400 years.

With Turner’s involvement and belief that the site was indeed Werowocomoco, the Ripleys really started to consider the implications of the discovery and how making the knowledge public would impact them and their home. “We put a lot of thought into what we wanted to happen and what we believed was the right thing to happen,” said Lynn. “We were of the same mind from the beginning: this site, the Algonquian’s heritage and our nation’s heritage had to be preserved. We wanted Werowocomoco to be a national park.”

bbt_perspectives_ripleys_at_home

Lynn exploring the site; Bob in this “thinking” room.

Sharing History the Right Way

That decision began a more than 15-year process to achieve the objective. Martin D. Gallivan, Ph.D., of William & Mary and the students in his many field schools, along with the collaboration of many groups and individuals, played a part in helping Werowocomoco become a national park. For all involved, it was a labor of love and it seemed fate had brought them together. “Just like when we first found our home, this whole process has felt destined to occur. We always found the right people to help or more often they seemed to find Werowocomoco,” said Bob.

The inclusiveness of the process to rediscover all aspects of Werowocomoco was particularly important to one group. Early in the process, the Ripleys and the Werowocomoco Research Group (the group of archeologists and researchers formed to study the site) decided that they wanted the descendent Native Virginia tribal communities involved in the research planning, activities and interpretation. They approached the Virginia Council on Indians, the state entity responsible for indian issues, and informed them in 2002 about the proposed research.

“The chiefs and tribal leaders were thrilled, thanked us for coming to them first, and agreed to form a Virginia Indian Advisory Board made up of representatives of the descendent community tribes to participate,” said Lynn. “Having representatives of the tribes whose ancestors built and lived in Werowocomoco be a part of its rediscovery has been a special aspect of this process. It has made and will make this site an even more important and better understood part of our history. And personally, I think it’s the best example of how we’ve tried to make sure we’ve done this the right way.”

While the process took time, lots of work and many parties’ involvement, the effort was a great success. In the middle of June 2016, with the support of The Conservation Fund , the Governor’s Office of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Werowocomoco was formally taken under the umbrella of the United States National Park Service.

Staying Home

You might assume the tie with Werowocomoco and the Ripleys would be broken, but as Bob and Lynn usually succeed when they set their sights on something, they were determined that Werowocomoco’s future and theirs would be linked. The agreement reached with the National Park Service allows Bob and Lynn to live in Werowocomoco National Park in their home on the 5.68 acre ‘reserved estate’ to “live the rest of their lives,” just as Lynn had foreseen. So in several years when Werowocomoco is open to the public and you visit our newest national park, you might get the chance to say “thank you” to the champions who gave us back a great national treasure so it will be protected and enjoyed for generations to come.

bbt_perspectives_ripleys_artifacts

Copper fragment from the 1600s; Projectile point from 8500 B.C.

 

Bob and Lynn’s BB&T Wealth advisor is Alfred W. Craft, III. Don Strehle is their Sterling Capital Management advisor.

By Olan Beam, Photography By John Walsh

bbt_perspectives_ripleys_feature

We all have differing opinions and visions of what champions look like, but when you meet Lynn and Bob Ripley, it won’t take long to realize you’ve found a couple that knows how to champion a cause they believe in.

By the late 1990s, Lynn and Bob had already championed a range of causes through hard work and with integrity, but their priority had turned toward their future retirement. Enjoyment of hunting, a passion for animals and nature, and Bob’s avocation for training his dog, a Master National Retriever Club qualified Chesapeake Bay Retriever, led Lynn and Bob to some specific interests and parameters as they started to look for the perfect spot to retire.

Finding a Place Like No Other

“In addition to finding a place where we wanted to retire, having acreage and water access was important for me to work with my dog,” explained Bob. Yet, both Lynn and Bob were looking at more than just the physical features of a property: it also had to feel right. “It had to give us a feeling like we were home,” said Bob. “We were already familiar with the area, so we took a map and during an almost four year period, went up and down about every road that led to large acreage tracks with water frontage. We knew about this one, as it was the first property we tried to visit, but had heard that the family wasn’t interested in selling. Later, when Lynn learned it was finally for sale, she jumped into her car and went to see it. Then we got a call . . .”

The call from the owners was to invite Bob and Lynn out to visit. In brief, the meeting was a success. “A wonderful retired couple owned the property and they were ready to sell – but it had to be to the right people,” explained Lynn. “They wanted the new owners to love the property as much as they had and to keep the property intact. We met them and their whole family. We courted for a few months, but I think we all knew from that first meeting that this was it. Bob and I certainly felt like this property would be our home. I remember telling Bob, ‘I’m going to live the rest of my life here.’”

The Cause Finds The Ripleys

As you hear Bob and Lynn tell the story about finding their home, it’s hard to believe there isn’t something special here that draws the right people to it. Bob and Lynn happened to be just the right people to reveal to the world how special their new home is – and was.

After moving, as Bob and Lynn walked their 264 acres and ran their dog, Lynn’s keen eyes were drawn to items strewn throughout the property. On every walk, it seemed Lynn returned with several unique items. Lynn found shards of Native American pottery, arrowheads and other uniquely shaped or colored items. “I never saw a thing, but Lynn could almost sense where items were located. They just seemed out of place to her,” said Bob. “As her collection grew and we discussed them with folks in the area, the interest in and awareness of the finds grew. Eventually, some local archaeologists came out to see what Lynn had found. The quantity and quality of the Native American artifacts found told them that Lynn had discovered something extraordinary.”

Werowocomoco Rediscovered

At that point, the local archaeologists invited E. Randolph Turner, III, Ph.D., of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for a visit. He is an expert on Native Virginian culture and a recognized authority on Werowocomoco, the long lost seat of power of Chief Powhatan and the political center of the Virginia Algonquian Indians.

“I’ll never forget our first meeting with Dr. Turner,” said Bob. “He got out of his car with a big smile on his face, looked at our property and viewed the artifacts in Lynn’s lab. Then he said, ‘I believe you’ve found Werowocomoco.’ I can’t tell you how captivating that revelation was for both Lynn and me. We had no idea.”

BBT_Perspectives_Ripleys_At_Home-mobile-1

Lynn exploring the site.

Werowocomoco was a large village on the York River and the home of Chief Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas, and in 1607 they crossed paths with Capt. John Smith – all historic figures later made famous by books, movies and folklore. The village had been the secular and religious center of the Powhatan people until the early 1600s, but soon afterward it vanished from all English language historical accounts for almost 400 years.

With Turner’s involvement and belief that the site was indeed Werowocomoco, the Ripleys really started to consider the implications of the discovery and how making the knowledge public would impact them and their home. “We put a lot of thought into what we wanted to happen and what we believed was the right thing to happen,” said Lynn. “We were of the same mind from the beginning: this site, the Algonquian’s heritage and our nation’s heritage had to be preserved. We wanted Werowocomoco to be a national park.”

BBT_Perspectives_Ripleys_At_Home-mobile-2

Bob in this “thinking” room.

Sharing History the Right Way

That decision began a more than 15-year process to achieve the objective. Martin D. Gallivan, Ph.D., of William & Mary and the students in his many field schools, along with the collaboration of many groups and individuals, played a part in helping Werowocomoco become a national park. For all involved, it was a labor of love and it seemed fate had brought them together. “Just like when we first found our home, this whole process has felt destined to occur. We always found the right people to help or more often they seemed to find Werowocomoco,” said Bob.

The inclusiveness of the process to rediscover all aspects of Werowocomoco was particularly important to one group. Early in the process, the Ripleys and the Werowocomoco Research Group (the group of archeologists and researchers formed to study the site) decided that they wanted the descendent Native Virginia tribal communities involved in the research planning, activities and interpretation. They approached the Virginia Council on Indians, the state entity responsible for indian issues, and informed them in 2002 about the proposed research.

“The chiefs and tribal leaders were thrilled, thanked us for coming to them first, and agreed to form a Virginia Indian Advisory Board made up of representatives of the descendent community tribes to participate,” said Lynn. “Having representatives of the tribes whose ancestors built and lived in Werowocomoco be a part of its rediscovery has been a special aspect of this process. It has made and will make this site an even more important and better understood part of our history. And personally, I think it’s the best example of how we’ve tried to make sure we’ve done this the right way.”

While the process took time, lots of work and many parties’ involvement, the effort was a great success. In the middle of June 2016, with the support of The Conservation Fund , the Governor’s Office of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Werowocomoco was formally taken under the umbrella of the United States National Park Service.

Staying Home

You might assume the tie with Werowocomoco and the Ripleys would be broken, but as Bob and Lynn usually succeed when they set their sights on something, they were determined that Werowocomoco’s future and theirs would be linked. The agreement reached with the National Park Service allows Bob and Lynn to live in Werowocomoco National Park in their home on the 5.68 acre ‘reserved estate’ to “live the rest of their lives,” just as Lynn had foreseen. So in several years when Werowocomoco is open to the public and you visit our newest national park, you might get the chance to say “thank you” to the champions who gave us back a great national treasure so it will be protected and enjoyed for generations to come.

BBT_Perspectives_Ripleys_artifact-mobile-1

Copper fragment from the 1600s.

BBT_Perspectives_Ripleys_artifact-mobile-2

Projectile point from 8500 B.C.

Werowocomoco: Finding and Investigating a Legendary Site