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Remembering the Homecoming for Sherrie Snead McLeRoy

The Madison Heights Branch of the Amherst County Library hosted a Homecoming for Sherrie Snead McLeRoy on Oct. 4. A big thank you goes out to the library and staff for organizing this historic event.

In recognition and appreciation for Sherrie’s contributions, County Administrator Dean Rogers presented a resolution from the Board of Supervisors. Vice Mayor Rachel Carton presented a resolution from the Town of Amherst. From the Amherst Historical Museum, Director Octavia Starbuck presented a framed reprint of a historic photo of Sweet Briar Station which subsequently was relocated to the campus of Sweet Briar College. Representatives of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Hill City Writers group attended.

Sherrie is a 13th generation native of Virginia. She and her husband William R. “Bill” McLeRoy, a former professor of history at Central Virginia Community College, now live in his native state of Texas.

Sherrie graduated from Amherst County High School in 1970. She earned a B.A. with High Honors from Sweet Briar College in 1974 majoring in History and Anthropology. The subject of her senior thesis was the creation of a museum, which came to fruition. Sherrie became the founding director of the Amherst County Historical Museum in 1975.

Sherrie’s first career, from 1974 until 1988, was in museum administration. Her resume includes Director of the Galveston (Texas) Historical Museum, first staff Curator of the Galveston Historical Foundation, and Director of the Sherman (Texas) Historical Museum. Sherrie is an international award-winning author and has written, co-written, and contributed to twenty-four books. She is currently Archivist of The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth and will be writing its Centennial history for release in 2023.

In 1977, Sherrie and her husband W. R. McLeroy self-published the book, Passages: A History of Amherst County. This book was a profound gift and the first book written on the history of Amherst County. Recall, there was no internet back then. IBM did not introduce the PC until August 1981. Thus, the careful and precise research for Passages was all done manually. The Lynchburg News & Advance included this book as a line item on their timeline of Amherst County historical events.

In 1979, Sherrie and Bill moved to Texas. In 1993, they adopted a daughter through the Gladney Center for Adoption, Fort Worth, Texas. From this experience and resulting friendships, Sherrie later wrote the book, Texas Adoption Activist, Edna Gladney: A Life & Legacy of Love. History Press, 2014.

In Fort Worth during World War I, many women left the home to work and support the war effort. Edna Gladney opened a daytime nursery to care for the children of these working women. Sherrie tells the Edna Gladney story of how her nursery evolved into the Gladney Center for Adoption and helped launch adoption reform which has changed the lives of families and children the world over.

In 1993, while living in Texas, Sherrie and her husband Bill published another Amherst County book, Strangers in Their Midst: The Free Black Population of Amherst County, Virginia. If not for Sherrie‘s chance discovery of these all but hidden historical records, the information in this book would probably remain unknown. Sherrie said that finds like these are the joys of historical research. Although written in 1993, Sherrie still receives inquiries about this book from folks researching their family genealogy.

In 2004, with Dr. Roy Renfro, Sherrie co-authored Grape Man of Texas: The Life of Thomas Volney Munson, which was named “Best Wine History Book in the World for 2004” by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards of Madrid, Spain. In 2008, Gourmand honored the second edition, Grape Man of Texas: Thomas Volney Munson and the Origins of American Viticulture, as one of the 100 best food and wine books of the previous decade.

The historical significance of T. V. Munson’s life and work can not be overstated. In the late 19th century, a Phylloxera epidemic essentially wiped out all grape vines in Europe. T. V. Munson developed the Phylloxera-resistant rootstock that re-established the grape vines and wine industry in Europe. In 1888, Munson was the second American, after Thomas Edison, to be named a Chevalier du Mérite Agricole by the French government. Today, all of the grape vines in Europe are of the Phylloxera-resistant rootstock that was developed by T. V. Munson.

Sherrie’s generosity and good will are ever apparent. At the Homecoming, Sherrie inscribed a copy of Grape Man of Texas, a gift to the library.

Also, Sherrie inscribed a copy of Grape Man of Texas, a gift for Settemaggio, a family vineyard and winery near Belinzone, Switzerland. Settemaggio’s Vindala 2017 recently won the “Grand Wine Award for Beef” at the “Wine Pairing Contest 2021”, organized by the Tokyo Wine Complex.

Sherrie’s Homecoming talk was peppered with frank wisdom and humor. Sherrie stated that she still uses the word ”Amherst” in her computer password. Professionally, attending Sweet Briar College has opened many doors.

One finds Sherrie to be humble and gracious. She credits the lion’s share of her success to her husband Bill, her first reader and first editor for everything she has written. Bill helped her overcome the miserable dread of public speaking.

An ACHS Class of ‘70 classmate shared this which Sherrie vividly recalled. Go way back in time to Mrs. Myers Latin II class. There was a site translation and it was Sherrie’s turn in the hot seat. Her translation was “Caesar wore no cloths twice,” but in the moment Sherrie translated “Twice, Caesar wore no clothes.”

Mrs. Myers almost fell on the floor. It was quite a moment. Everyone had a good laugh and poor Sherrie turned beet red. We were not laughing at her but with her. Ah, the days of innocence are so far behind us. Sherrie said, “They are never going to let me forget that story.”

A closing observation. In Roman Catholic theology, the seven deadly sins are vices that spur other sins. Deadly sin No. 1 is pride. That said, one can’t help but observe how lightning-quick Sherrie is to serve up photos and stories of her grandchildren. Surely, pride is no detriment here.

RICHARD TIM JORDAN,

Madison Heights

Republicans reflect better values

I have never understood Republican or Democrat. I understand morals, values and I understand that many young people have died for the freedoms the American people have.

So from what I gather, the Democrats promote abortion, a lawless society, government control over the freedoms Americans once had, open borders, and it does not matter who comes into America (to include drugs, terrorist and diseases that were eradicated in the USA (ex. measles)). On the other hand, the Republicans want law and order, birth control over abortion, a safe community for you and your family and parents to get involved in what their children are learning in school.

So even though no human is perfect, I would bet the Republican Party will work harder toward freedom rather than government control, work harder toward a safe country than a very dangerous and drug-infested one, vetting those who wish to come here and come through America’s laws rather than a open border.

America was built on sweat and hard work, so why are so many not working? I will say this: Yes we all want more money, but I was raised, “It’s not what you make, but how you spend it.” Those who receive Democrats’ government handouts are allowing themselves to be controlled by the government. If we all get a government handout (which the Democrats call free), sooner or later the controls they will have over your life will be unstoppable: what you eat, what you say, what you wear and how you think will be their decision instead of yours. When you work for an employer to earn your keep, some require uniforms; this is your income provider, so you comply. When the government’s handout is your income, they own you. Get a job, lazy is killing America. God, please help.

KARA JONES, Madison Heights

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