Former county resident gifts Virginia property to land conservancy
A ceremony, hosted by the Department of Parks and Recreation of Chesterfield County, Virginia, was held September 23 to publicly receive a gift of 113 acres from the estate of the late Paul and Anna Shue Atkins.
Anna Blanche Shue was born October 4, 1918, on Droop Mountain, the oldest of nine children of Emery E. and Pearline B. Williams Shue.
Anna married Paul J. Atkins on February 27, 1943.
"Paul bought the wooded acreage in Chesterfield, Virginia, in 1948...on George Washington's birthday in 1949, we moved to a yet unfinished house on our land,"Anna wrote.
The land, located along Courthouse Road, will eventually be developed into a public park.
Through the efforts of the county and the Capital Region Land Conservancy, the Atkins' land will remain predominantly forest, wetland and open spaces, with areas for the public to enjoy for years to come, said Amy Sheets in her County Comments article.
The Atkins worked with the county and with the CRLC to protect the land from future development, and to ensure that the land the Atkins lived and worked on for 60 years will remain intact and environmentally protected, Sheets said. Through an agreement with the Atkins, the CRLC and the county, 30 percent of the land will be developed into a park, with the remaining 70 percent proteced in its forested, natural state.
Family, friends and Chesterfield County representatives participated in the Atkins Remembrance Ceremony, sharing memories and telling tales.
"This event was an opportunity to give thanks for the Atkins' generous donation of property to the County and a wonderful opportunity to remember two very extraordinary people," wrote Michael Golden, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Golden included the following comments and stories in his correspondence to the media and attendees.
Jane Myers of the CRLC worked with Anna in preparing the gift to the county.
Mrs. Atkins did not want development on her land... Her well had gone dry in the past due to development and she knew how development could stress natural resources, Myers said in part.
One young couple, John and Caroline Coe, said they wanted to move out of an apartment and into a house where they could have a garden. They answered a "for rent" ad, placed by the Atkins, and got more than a garden space.
"Miss Anna grew up in West Virginia and was able to live off the land," John said. "Both Mr. Paul and Miss Anna were very frugal. Miss Anna sewed her own clothes, gardened, and canned fruits and vegetables."
John talked about Mr. Paul's intellegence and strength and how he built his house and dug his well by hand.
And remembered Miss Anna saying she was "born before plastic, pantyhose or ball point pens."
Born at a time when college was not a given for young women, Anna attended West Virginia University, received her BSSS from Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary and her M. Ed. from Virginia Commonwealth University and taught in Chesterfield County and Richmond, Virginia, public schools.
With all of her education, travel and life experience, a part of Anna's heart remained tied to Droop Mountain, and she looked forward to reminiscing about the old days at the annual Shue Gabfest.
A power outage during a thunderstorm brought together a fitting combination of Anna's two homes as she died peacefully July 29, 2010, in her Chesterfield home in the flickering light of a kerosene lantern.