The 100 most influential Richmonders of the century 

Movers And Shapers

Neighborhoods, politics, sports teams, shopping, parks, schools, bars and restaurants all make a city. But, in the final analysis, what gives any city distinction are its people: the big shots and the little guys.

The eve of the 21st century is an obvious time to step back and ask a question: Which individuals during the past 100 years have been most influential in shaping how Richmond looks, operates, thinks and behaves?

Who were the movers and shapers - the leaders, visionaries, entrepreneurs and benefactors without whom the city would be a different place?

Few personify these movers and shapers better than Theresa Pollak, a Richmond artist and independent spirit who lives in Henrico County. Born in 1899, she is just a few months short of having witnessed the entire century. Seventy-one years ago, educator Henry Hibbs asked her to teach an art class for 20 pupils. That class grew and became the school of the arts at Virginia Commonwealth University - today, one of the nation's leading art schools.

Some people, such as Thomas Fortune Ryan and Carter Glass, were neither born here nor ever lived here. Both hailed from western Virginia and built their reputations elsewhere - Ryan on Wall Street and Glass in the U.S. Senate. But each helped to establish Richmond institutions that are integral to the city fabric. Ryan built the glorious Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in the Fan and U.S. Senator Carter Glass was a founder of the Federal Reserve Band: He made sure that Richmond landed one of the 12 highly prestigious district headquarters.

Other efforts were more modest, but no less enduring: Virginia Randolph, a daughter of slaves who founded a public school for African-Americans on Mountain Road where she taught for 57 years. Or Thomas Cannon, a benevolent postal worker, who regularly gives much of the salary away to charity.

In some of the 100 entries, more than one person is listed because others contributed to building upon a single activity or idea. For instance, Richard S. Reynolds was a tobacco tycoon turned Wall Street investor turned industrialist. In 1938, at the height of the Depression, he moved Reynolds Metals here and grew it into one of the world's major aluminum producers. In the 1950s, his son, Richard S. Reynolds Jr., built the handsome corporate campus on West Broad Street that heralded Richmond's suburban expansion.

The movers and shapers are listed in chronologically by year of birth. The first entries included some Richmonders who grew wealthy in post-Reconstruction Richmond and shared their largesse by endowing cultural and social institutions. A parallel theme emerges: individuals of more modest means responding to pressing social issues - women's, workers' and civil rights.

Throughout the century, individual talents appear who either worked here (writers Ellen Glasgow and Patricia Cornwell) or moved on but never forgot their native city (Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Tom Wolfe).

Also, civil rights and race relations are critical themes: Curtis Holt's challenge to annexation, Henry Marsh's and L. Douglas Wilder's symbolic political victories as Richmond's first African-American mayor and Virginia's first African-American governor, respectively.

As the century ends, individuals continue to respond to pressing social needs - Dr. Lisa Kaplowitz delivering care to AIDS patients in much the same spirit that earlier in the century Grace Arents provided for healthcare for urban children. Or journalist Ray Boone ensuring that other voices can be heard through his Richmond Free Press in much the way John Mitchell added an independent voice through the Richmond Planet.

What themes emerge from our 100 entries? To dispel a misconception, you obviously don't have to be a native Richmonder to make an impact here. Nearly 60 percent of those listed were born elsewhere. And for all the talk that Richmonders are still fighting the Civil War, 27 percent of those listed are not native Southerners.

Of course, any list is subjective. Some of the entries could easily represent the efforts of hundreds of others. But this roster may jog readers to think of other individuals who made indelible marks on the civic life or spirit of 20th-century Richmond - and help us all remember that one person can make a big difference.

We are delighted to present...

"Movers and Shapers: The 100 Most Influential Richmonders of the Century."

James H. Dooley
and Sallie May Dooley

Joseph Bryan
John Stewart Bryan
and David Tennant Bryan

Grace Arents

Thomas Fortune Ryan

Rosa Dixon Bowser

Eppa Hunton Jr.

John Barton Payne
and John Garland Pollard

Virginia Randolph Ellet

The Rev. Walter William Moore

Carter Glass

Webster S. Rhoads
Linton O. Miller
William B. Thalhimer

Jacquelin P. Taylor
William T. Reed Jr.
Ross R. Millhiser

John Mitchell Jr.

Bishop James Cannon Jr.

Mary-Cooke Branch Munford

Lila Meade Valentine

William C. Noland
Henry Baskerville
and H. Coleman Baskerville

Douglas Southall Freeman

Charles M. Robinson

Maggie Lena Walker

Frederick W. Boatwright

Lucy Randolph Mason

Irene Langhorne Gibson
and Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor

Ellen Glasgow

Frederick William Sievers

Virginia Randolph

Dr. Edward N. Calisch

Dr. J. Fulmer Bright

May Keller

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

James Branch Cabell

William Harry Schwarzschild

Richard S. Reynolds
and Richard S. Reynolds Jr.

Adele Clark

John Powell

William Lawrence Bottomley

Dr. William Sanger

Charles F. Gillette

Frederick Otto Seibel

Henry H. Hibbs

Anthony Dementi

Calvin Lucy

Thomas C. Boushall

Wilbur Havens,
and John Shand

Mary Wingfield Scott

Dr. Theodore F. Adams
and Dr. Peter James Flamming

Floyd Dewey Gottwald

Theresa PollakElisabeth Scott Bocock,
Louise Fontaine Cadot Catterall
and Mary Ross Scott Reed

Virginius Dabney

Cabell Luck
and Beattie C. Luck

Oliver Hill Sr.

Paul Mellon

Lewis Powell

Eddie Weaver

Samuel S. Wurtzel

Leslie Cheek Jr.

Julien Binford III

David Silvette

E. Claiborne Robins Sr.

Edward Eugene Willey

Howard Hearns Carwile

Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" Workman

Ray Dandridge

Angus Powell

Joseph Ukrop
Jacquelin Ukrop
James Ukrop
and Robert Ukrop

Edmund A. Rennolds Jr.
Mary Anne Rennolds
and Emma Gray Trigg

Paul Sawyer

Mary Tyler McClenahan

Alden Aaroe

Sydney Lewis
and Frances Aaronson Lewis

Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr.

Robert Watkins
and Stoner Winslett

The Rev. Curtis Holt Sr.

Newton H. Ancarrow
and Ralph White

James C. Wheat Jr.

A. Linwood Holton

Dika Newlin

Nina Friedman Abady

The Lambert Family

Neilson November

Thomas Cannon

David S. Kilgore
Nancy Tanley Kilgore
and Muriel Joyce McAuley

Bishop Walter F. Sullivan

David N. Martin

L. Douglas Wilder

John Shelby Spong
and Jack D. Spiro

Tom Wolfe

Thomas Bliley Jr.

Henry Marsh

Miller & Rhoads Santa Claus

Raymond H. Boone

Eugene P. Trani

Arthur Ashe

Jeff MacNelly

Bruce Miller
and Phil Whiteway

Sidney J. Gunst Jr.

Dr. Lisa G. Kaplowitz

Patricia Daniels Cornwell


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