Susan Elsie Specially for Register and Bees
Most likely, if you grew up in the Danville public school system from the 60s, until after the turn of the century you at some point encountered Robert “Bob” Huskins.
Haskins worked as a social science teacher at Robert E. Lee’s former junior high school from 1962 to 1969, then worked in 1969-70 as principal of Stonewall Jackson Elementary School. Then from 1970 to 1973 he worked as the principal of E. A. Gibson High School.
From 1973 to 74 he worked as an assistant director at GW, then became director from 1974 to 1989. Leaving GW, he became director of school finance until 1993, when he missed contacts with students and teachers and became director of OT. Boner High School in 1993. He remained there until his retirement in 2003.
“I enjoyed every moment of my career,” Haskins said, recalling the years. “I liked the teachers and students, and I liked the direct interaction with them. It was comprehensive. “
He said his father was almost absent because there would be a director at every game and concert.
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In those years he was a director at GW and then at Bonner, this was not required but the directors were expected to retire at the age of 65. So he did.
Looking back on his career, he thinks leaving GW was a mistake. He didn’t like downtown politics when he had to choose between what looks good rather than what looks good.
But the thought of being close to students and teachers, even with all the evenings required by the principal, evokes good memories.
He said he learned a lot about human nature during the school integration years in Danville in the early 1970s and remembers relying on Curtis Richardson, Gibson’s black school principal. Richardson later became an assistant school superintendent.
In 1992, Huskins and his wife, Anne, bought a 30-acre farm in Pittsylvania County and enjoyed the activities the property brought to their lives. He and Anne, a physical education teacher, met at Robert E. Lee School in 1962 and were married a year later.
For many years she was at home with her mother and then returned to teaching.
“She likes to take care of her grandchildren and me,” he said with a laugh. “She is such a good person. She rises after me. “
They both loved going to antique auctions.
“I’ve always wanted to have a farm,” he said. “I started the equestrian business when my daughters were young to interest them in something other than boys. Even the kiosks were cleaned, so the guys didn’t smell it. “
According to Haskins, the transition from learning to ride a horse to owning a farm is a slippery slope.
“First we rode someone else’s horse, then they demanded that you buy a horse,” he said. “Then you buy a trailer to carry horses, not take in someone’s trailer. Then you have to buy a big pickup truck to drag the trailer. Then the other daughter wants a horse.
“Buying a farm was much easier.”
When he first retired, Haskins traveled with his daughters to numerous equestrian shows. Now they mostly take horses for inspection – to “see if they are moving properly and how they are collected like a horse.”
Now they have six horses, two of them breeding mares. Their horses are mostly Hanoverian and Oldenberg breeds, and one of them even won a gold medal. They raise one to two foals a year.
“We are now exclusively a breeding farm, not an exhibition farm,” he said. “We don’t have many horses, but we have high quality.”
Their daughter Angie lives down the road from them and does most of the work with horses, he said. Their eldest daughter, Carrie, works as a nurse in Chesterfield County, and their son Brian is an attorney for the Commonwealth of Pitsylvania County.
“So the law and medicine apply to me,” Haskins said.
They have five grandchildren with Anne.
Surrounded by beauty
The Haskins Farm overlooks a valley near Mount Harvey County. The step to the front porch brings it to a view that is so beautiful that it almost resembles a picture. At this time of year he can see both the east and the west, standing on his porch.
“I’m just amazed by the scenes we get,” he said. “Mount Harvey was a center of Indian worship where they enjoyed sunrises and sunsets.”
When they first moved to their farm, Haskins planted 40 dogwood trees and still has 34 of them. They also planted “lots of rhododendrons” in one place where they seemed to grow best, and lots of beautiful plants in tubs and pots on the porch and around the yard.
His house has a lot of antiques, most of which belonged to his grandmothers.
“Both of my grandmothers left everything to my mother, who lived in a large Victorian house outside of Raleigh,” he said.
One of his valuable treasures is a painting painted by his pro-pro-pro-aunt.
“It’s a school picture,” he explained. “At that time the girls went to school at the age of 15, which for her was in the 1850s. Her school project was a painting. “
He shows and explains the bullet hole in the picture.
“Around 1865, General Sherman was driving through North Carolina, and some of his men passed through Nash County, where she lived. They came to the plantation, and everyone ran away inside, ”he said, recalling the story of his family. “So the soldier took out a gun to get everyone’s attention. He fired a pistol and hit the picture. “
He said women in his family line keep excellent records, he said.
Haskins has a frame with mounted arrowheads, from where he walked his dogs around the edge of the mountain and picked up artifacts. He quickly says he never dug for them and never thought it right to dig in the graveyard of Indians on his property.
He also has a large collection of nativity scenes displayed on shelves he built in his basement “Human Cave”.
“It started with my mother in her big old Victorian house,” he said. “There were bottles in her house.”
Haskins also has a hobby of carving beautiful sticks that he does not sell but gives to his family members.
“I make snake canes, mostly from dogwood or oak – that just grows,” he said. “A man named ‘Amos’ in Chatham Autumn Potpourri had sticks, and I became interested in them.”
He’s pretty much self-taught and even had to make a couple of tools for a hobby.
“It’s mostly snakes from Virginia, and I make maybe one or two a year using a book with National Geographic snakes,” he explained.
A new hobby
Finally, Haskins loves Facebook and brings to Facebook almost daily a group of good news and photos of the area called “Living in Danville and Pittsylvania County”. It is famous for its pictures of sunrises, sunsets and beautiful flowers that surround it during the growing season.
“The pandemic brought me to Facebook. I needed something to do, so my daughter bought me a phone that takes great photos, ”he said. “Then I got on Facebook, and now I’m posting too much. My daughters say I’m obsessed, but my son is a little more diplomatic.
He said he gets 7 to 10 people a day who want to be his friends on Facebook, so he checks requests and people to make sure he isn’t hacked.
Most of his Facebook posts express gratitude to God for the life he is living now. After so many years of happy participation in the lives of teachers and students in Danville, he now enjoys everything that gives him a slow life.
In a recent post he shared, he stated: “After 30 years of living in a city with houses about 50 feet on all sides, for me it is a happiness to live the last 30 years with wide spaces. Thank you, God, for my piece of heaven on earth. ”
Elzey is a freelance writer for Register & Bee. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-791-7991.