Better than he found it
I didn’t know Louie Hausrath all that well. Actually, on second thought …
I first knew his daughter, Beth, back when I was in the second grade at Crimora Elementary School. “I taught you how to write,” the woman whom I still feel compelled to think of and refer to as Miss Hausrath tells me when she sees me now.
I next got to know his wife of 63 years, Betty, when she was chair of the Waynesboro Cultural Commission, and I was a cub reporter at The News Virginian trying to get people interested in doing something to save the Wayne Theatre. Betty, it turns out, was pretty much doing the same thing from her perch on the Cultural Commission.
I guess I’d already known by then, or come to know, anyway, their son, and Beth’s brother, Bill, from reporting on his efforts to rehab Fairfax Hall, which if you’ve only seen it recently and assumed it was always like that, nuh-uh. Bill took me on a tour at the beginning of the rehab work, and when we got to a certain part of I believe the second floor, we had to stop, because the second floor ended there about midway down what used to be the entire second floor.
The Hausrath who left me with the best impression of Louie was Bill’s son, Louie’s grandson, Alex. Alex volunteered on my city-council campaign earlier this year, and I remember, at the end of a long, hot day knocking on doors, Alex telling me about how his grandfather had served on city council for two terms, one as mayor, back in the ’70s, and how he felt he’d done his part to try to leave the city in better shape than he found it in when he was sworn in.
Aside from that, I only knew Louie, or so I’d thought, from saying hello to him at events, most recently at a Third Fridays event in Downtown Waynesboro. We were both serenaded with a Happy Birthday – his birthday being June 20, and mine June 22.
But the more I think about it, I realize that I knew him better than I would have ever guessed. Louie Hausrath was what Waynesboro is all about, should be all about, anyway. I like to tell people who find out that I am the editor and co-owner of a local magazine and the chair of the local Democratic Party and a member of the local United Way board among other things that Waynesboro’s just a small town, and so we all have to wear a lot of hats. Well, Louie sure wore a lot of hats – in addition to serving on city council, he founded the Waynesboro Municipal Band, served as president of the Waynesboro Community Concerts Association, was an early leader in the movement to build the Waynesboro DuPont Credit Union.
And the list goes on – chair of the Waynesboro School Board, board member of the Waynesboro Symphonic Orchestra, chair of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, active in the Boy Scouts, the Waynesboro YMCA.
But the best thing you can say about Louie is that he helped Betty raise a pretty good family. That I’m here writing these words about him to you is evidence of that. (Thanks, Miss Hausrath!)
His kids, his grandkids, their kids and grandkids, are living his legacy. And Waynesboro is a better place for it.
– Column by Chris Graham