Nelson County, Virginia
By Tommy Stafford
Updated 12.29.17 – Scroll to end of story for visitation and funeral information.
If you’ve been running a magazine for nearly 13 years at some point you will write this kind of story. I’ve already done several. This is certainly one of melancholy and one of great pride. You see, I was fortunate enough to know Dr. Bob Raynor like so many other countless Nelsonians who came long before me. He laughingly would say he delivered about half of the babies in the county. He probably did at the time!
I not only knew Dr. Bob through the magazine and on a professional level, I knew him on a personal level. We became friends. We became friends with his wife Shirley. We would spend evenings at their home when we first moved to Nelson having a glass of wine and chatting about days old and new. I got to know the man, that in his 70’s when we first met, was still swimming laps daily in his pond on the farm! He was tough as nails. But had a heart the size of Texas. And he was from an era when he and maybe one or two other doctors were all the county had.
“In 1958 My patients were on this side of the mountain, they usually ended up coming to the house. And also there were no rescue squads. And then down the road, the hospitals realized that having a staffed emergency room was profitable. And they began to staff their emergency room and that helped some, as far as patients coming to the house was concerned. But there still were no rescue squads so we still made lots of house calls. Because if someone got sick in the night there was no rescue squad to call, they would call their physician,” Dr, Bob told me in this May 2008 interview as he was preparing for retirement later that year.
Dr. Bob first started his clinic at the intersection of Bland Wade Road and Route 151 here in Nelson back in 1958. As his practice grew along with the county the original building he originally started out in eventually sold and is now The Rockfish Valley Inn. Dr. Bob officially retired from the Martha Jefferson system that was operating the clinic in October 2008. Afton Family Medicine broke ground at its current location in September 2010, opening the next year.
Above top right from our December 2008 (charter publication issue Nelson County Life) where Dr. Bob greeted people at his retirement reception. Click on the lower right hand side of the image above (on fullscreen) to expand and look more.
This evening I spoke at length with his wife Shirley on the phone. We cried, we laughed, we remembered. It’s all so fresh for she and their family, but she has peace because he has peace.
I’ve had some regrets in my 50 plus years here in this life. Not many. But some. One of those was with Dr. Bob. You see as he retired and began enjoying some free time and we began having kids. Everyone got busy doing their thing. We didn’t go back by for a glass of wine as often. Once we moved to the other side of the county instead of down the road we didn’t go back hardly at all. I’d run into Bob and Shirley in a restaurant and we’d always catch up, but the years ticked by.
I ran into his daughter twice in the past several months and she told me he was heading down pretty quickly. I made a mental note to get by the house. I never did.
Thankfully my wife Yvette did get to visit Shirley in Bob’s hospital room on Tuesday before he passed. I never got to see Bob again before he passed. That is a big regret. For he was a pioneer as a doctor in these parts. He was a gentleman. A friend. One I will never forget.
My next glass of Chardonnay Bob, this very night, is in your memory. And your honor, my friend.
Godspeed Dr. Bob.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by McDow Funeral Home in Waynesboro. The late Dr Raynor’s complete obituary here.
Here’s visitation and funeral information:
The family will receive friends from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at McDow Funeral Home.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at Rodes United Methodist Church in Afton, officiated by Rev. Lowell Petry.