Martinsville, Va. — A portion along the newest section of the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, known as 6B, was named for a former president and a founding employee of The Harvest Foundation.
Allyson Rothrock, serving as president of the foundation from 2008 until her retirement in 2020, didn’t have a dry eye throughout the dedication ceremony, which took place on Zoom Tuesday, April 13. She was asked to join the call under the ruse of providing historical information on the local business park Commonwealth Crossing.
“I am speechless,” she said. “In my retirement, I walk this portion of the trail almost every day. As all of you know on this call, the only way any of these projects happened was because of all of you. I’ve told people countless times: you can throw money at stuff all day long and it’s not going to have an effect unless there are true and genuine partnerships in place.”
Joining the call were community partners, past and present members of The Harvest Foundation Board of Directors and staff, and members of Rothrock’s family. Several participants on the call spoke offering their congratulations to Rothrock on her retirement, and they shared fond memories of working with her on various projects and programs. Speakers included Henry County Administrator Tim Hall, Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki, Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson, Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams, former Harvest chairmen Paul Toms, James McClain II, Dr. Paul Eason and David Stone, Harvest President Kate Keller, and Harvest Chairman Bill Kirby.
Hall thanked Rothrock for being a wonderful teammate throughout the years and leaving a legacy of caring for the community.
“I have never met another person who is more passionate about his or her community than you,” Hall said. “You brought out the best in us; I know you brought out the best I had to offer on many different occasions… At the end of the day, you have made an impact. Maybe you don’t even realize that, but we’re here to say thank you, and to let you know we would not be as well off as we are without Ally Rothrock. And it’s been an honor to serve next to you.”
Towarnicki echoed similar sentiments of working with Rothrock on community projects.
“You were always committed to the betterment of this community,” he told Rothrock, “and I think you put your interest in the community ahead of everything else. I can’t think of a better tribute to a very special individual that’s been close to a lot of us in the community.”
Lawson called Rothrock a person of “vision” who always looked at how something would benefit the community. Adams also praised Rothrock for her “focus and direction” that brought the trail project together.
“You’re leaving a legacy of building hope when this community needed it the most,” Adams said. “Thank you, Ally, for making our community a better place to live, work, and play.”
While Rothrock’s legacy is evident in the community projects, programs, and partnerships built throughout her time at Harvest, Keller highlighted her work in building a strong organization.
“I don’t know if it’s as clear to everyone what an awesome impact she (Rothrock) had internally in this organization,” Keller said. “I was blessed to step into her shoes and take over an organization that runs like clockwork, that knows what they’re doing, and that has a team that functions like a family. So not only was she impactful throughout the community, she has built a strong organization for us to lead.”
Rothrock thanked everyone on the call and pointed out her granddaughter, who joined the call with her sons. “Maybe you know that (my granddaughter)is the only thing that could make me step away, but my heart is always with you. I think of you all the time, and I thank you for all your kind words. This is amazing to me.”
Kirby closed the dedication by offering his congratulations to Rothrock and saying, “Having known Ally and worked with her for years at Harvest, it’s one thing to witness her dedication from afar and another to see it up close. There are few people I’ve met who are that driven once they’ve decided something is important to them. Ally is leaving this community better than she found it.”
Pictured below is the plaque welcoming visitors on the Dick & Willie Trail to Ally’s Alley.