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Part 2

100 Movers And Shapers

Webster S. Rhoads
(1858-1941) b. Reading, Pa.;
Linton O. Miller
(1860-1917) Reading, Pa.;
William B. Thalhimer
(1888-1969) b. Richmond

When downtown was the hub of social life, shopping trips to Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers were rites of passage for many Richmonders. Trousseaus were selected, luncheons in the tea room were hat-and-glove affairs, and attentive customer service was paramount. Rather than carry their purchases while shopping, ladies had their parcels wrapped and delivered free by the stores' fleets of trucks. Popular goods included Sara Sue hats, black-and white checkered boxes of cakes and pastries, and all manner of household items and clothing. The meeting place of choice was beneath the giant clock on the main floor of Miller & Rhoads. Racial segregation was a standard practice until 1960, although Thalhimers permitted persons of color to try on clothes in its dressing rooms when even some Northern department stores would not. Both stores eventually revamped their policies to permit integration. Three decades later, they closed, and the flagship stores remain empty.

Thalhimers was the city's oldest department store and grew out of a dry goods store begun in the 1840s. Three generations helped to run it until it merged with Hecht's.

Jacquelin P. Taylor
(1861-1950) b. Orange;
William T. Reed Jr.
(1904-1966) b. Richmond;
Ross R. Millhiser
(1920- ) b. Richmond

Founder of Universal Leaf Tobacco Company in 1918, Jacquelin P. Taylor operated the world's largest tobacco firm, founded his own tobacco company and became a bank chairman. His Monument Avenue home is one of the few there to remain in the family continuously since its construction in 1914.

William T. Reed Jr. led Larus & Brother Co. Inc. tobacco company and was known for his business acumen in banking, insurance, utilities and farming. His proudest accomplishments included organizing the news operations for WRVA radio and WWBT-TV and his work for Sheltering Arms Hospital, MCV and the Richmond Community Chest. He offered fishing privileges on his Dover Lake property to all Richmond police officers and firefighters. As his funeral procession moved from St. Paul's Church to Hollywood Cemetery, officers stood on every street corner, saluting the business and civic leader with gratitude for his support and hospitality.

The man behind Marlboro helped raise Philip Morris' profile from the smallest of Richmond's six tobacco companies to the world's largest consumer goods corporation. Ross R. Millhiser's marketing savvy and calculated risk-taking proved that postwar smokers wanted a premium blend cigarette, packaged to appeal to men and advertised with real people, from cowboys to tennis players. Millhiser worked his way from the machine rooms to marketing, became president of Philip Morris USA and retired in 1985. Millhiser vigorously supported the Red Cross, in part because of its help in shipping food supplies while he and others were prisoners of war in Germany during World War II.

John Mitchell Jr.
(1863-1929) b. Henrico County
Influential journalist and political activist John Mitchell joined The Planet in 1884. (The paper would later merge with the Richmond Afro-American.) He railed against such issues as erection of the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee in 1890 and racial inequality of the courts system. In 1909, he founded the Mechanics Savings Bank, which was in existence until 1922. He served on City Council and in 1921 ran for Virginia governor on an all-black ticket.

Bishop James Cannon Jr.
(1864-1944) b. Salisbury, Md.
If you think Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have political influence you would be amazed at the power wielded by Bishop James Cannon Jr., Methodist bishop and leader of the Anti-Saloon League. In defiance of the rules, he arrogantly roamed the floor of Virginia's General Assembly and pushed through anti-liquor laws. In the late 1920s, H.L. Mencken described him as "the most powerful ecclesiastic ever heard of in America." By the time of his death, his fame and power had faded. He is buried in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery.

Mary-Cooke Branch Munford
(1865-1938) b. Richmond
A lifelong proponent of educational opportunities for females, Mary Munford was the first woman to serve on the Richmond School Board. An award-winning elementary school on Westmoreland Street bears her name and carries on her mission of equality for all students. She helped establish a women's coordinate college at University of Virginia, but it wasn't until 32 years after her death that U.Va. opened all departments to women applicants. Munford was active in the Urban League and in many civil rights causes.

Lila Meade Valentine
(1865-1921) b. Richmond
Married to Benjamin B. Valentine, Lila Meade raised Richmonders' eyebrows and their consciousness in the early 1900s of the city's need for change in areas of education, race relations, health and women's rights. Known for her curiosity and breadth of vision, she worked as an early advocate for raising the bar of Richmond's public schools. Valentine focused her attention on social issues important to her. She rallied for women's right to vote and was chosen the first president of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Her dedication and leadership in timely but controversial spheres caused her to be shunned by some of the city's aristocracy. But whether fighting for better schooling conditions, equal rights or a cure for tuberculosis, Lila Meade Valentine never succumbed to popular opinion. A true pioneer, she is the only woman honored with a plaque in Virginia's Capitol.

William C. Noland
(1865-1951) b. Hanover County;
Henry Baskerville
(1867-1946) b. Richmond
and H. Coleman Baskerville
(1905-1969) b. Richmond

William C. Noland, first president of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, designed the wings to the State Capitol and worked with Henry Baskervill to design such landmarks as St. James's Episcopal Church, Beth Ahabah and Second Baptist. Under Coleman Baskerville's guidance the firm designed such landmarks as the Medical College of Virginia Hospital (1939). The firm of Baskervill & Son is still active today.

Douglas Southall Freeman
(1866-1953) b. Lynchburg
A man of intellect and a man of words, Douglas Southall Freeman was an early-edition workaholic. Throughout his tenure as editor of The Richmond News Leader, from 1915 to 1949, he reportedly pulled 17-hour workdays. Always on the move, Freeman indulged his interests in people and communication. He wore many hats as editorial writer, teacher, biographer, historian, radio broadcaster and public speaker. Freeman's biographies of George Washington and Robert E. Lee garnered national attention. He won a place in the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame and more impressively, he earned the Pulitzer. Freeman was a regular speaker at college commencements and an avid archivist. Anyone interested in Richmond history should peruse the Freeman file at the Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University. A man of warmth and ingenuity, Douglas Southall Freeman was a legend in his time.

Charles M. Robinson
(1867-1932) b. Loudon County
Many generations of Richmonders have attended schools designed by Charles M. Robinson. After practicing architecture in Pennsylvania, in 1906 he established a firm here and designed most of the city's schools. These included William Fox, Ginter Park, Highland Park, Chandler, Albert Hill and Thomas Jefferson. It's a testament to his talents that most of his schools are still being used today. He also designed the Cannon Memorial Chapel at the University of Richmond and numerous buildings at William & Mary and James Madison University. Robinson designed the exuberant Mosque, now the Landmark Theater, with fellow Mason Marcellus Wright Sr.

Maggie Lena Walker
(1867-1934) b. Richmond
Maggie Walker is perhaps best remembered as the nation's first female bank president. The bank grew out of a Broad Street department store, The Saint Luke Emporium, and her passionate and well-established commitment to social reform and economic opportunity and prosperity for blacks. From 1899 to 1934, Walker headed the Independent Order of Saint Luke, a fraternal organization. In 1901 she established a weekly newspaper, The Saint Luke Herald. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank was opened in 1903. It was the forerunner of today's Consolidated Bank & Trust Company (the nation's oldest black-owned bank). Today, Walker's home on Leigh Street is operated as a museum by the U.S. National Park

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