Betsy Burke Parker
Betsy Burke Parker photoMelvin Poe was born in a rural corner of northwest Fauquier County, VA in late summer 1920. Following the footsteps of father Ollie, Melvin Poe grew up riding and hunting, following hounds around fields and forest of his virtually limitless neighborhood near the center of Hume. Some nine decades later, he's still at it, and Poe celebrated his 93rd birthday Sunday in a predictable way: going foxhunting.
Along with a dozen neighbors and family members, Poe hunted hounds from his Ozark Farm Aug. 25, drawing a favored wooded copse across from the post office and finding it “full of game,” Poe said as his seven-couple of hounds pronounced the presence of a late-to-bed night-fox. Rapidly warming conditions made scenting difficult, Poe said, as the morning hours passed.
Poe knows from experience the vagaries of trying conditions– he's worked in hunting for 66 years, first whip then huntsman at the Old Dominion Hounds and later, from 1964 to 1991, at the Orange County Hunt. In 2011, Poe was inducted along with younger brother Albert to the sport's Hall of Fame – the Huntsmen's Room at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting.
After riding all morning, friends gathered at Melvin and wife Peggy's farmhouse for cake and to discuss Poe's secrets to nearly a century of success.