By Taylor Boyd
Patrick & Henry Community College’s (P&HCC’s) training facility in Stuart now honors two Patrick natives.
The facility is now called the Gerald L. Baliles and Richard S. Reynolds, Sr. Learning Center – so named to honor the two donors who supported expanding education in Patrick County.
The college began using the space in 2019 to expand courses offered in the county, particularly manufacturing and industrial certification classes.
Baliles served as the 65th Virginia governor. He also served in the Virginia House of Delegates, and as the Commonwealth’s attorney general.
Richard S. Reynolds, Sr. was the founder of the U.S. Foil Company and nephew of Richard Joshua “R.J.” Reynolds.
At a dedication ceremony last week, Dr. Stewart Roberson chairman of the Patrick County Education Foundation (PCEF), said the dedication celebrated Baliles and realized his vision for more local education.
“Governor Baliles always remembered and honored his roots. He embodied and extoled the inexplicable connection between education, community, and individual vitality. He pushed for investment in education,” Roberson said, adding that Balilies founded the PCEF to pursue his passion for education in the county.
As many members of the foundation gathered for the event, Roberson noted that “the last time any of us gathered here was with Gerry Baliles. Robin, his caring and loving partner, was present giving him the inspiration to hold forth as he described the history of and the vision for the Education Foundation, for this center, and for Patrick education generally.”
Robin Baliles said her husband would have been humbled and honored, particularly by “placing his name with that of Richard S. Reynolds Sr. on this building where advanced manufacturing and workforce training will happen.”
Quoting from her late husband’s speech when the training facility opened in 2019, Robin Baliles said, ‘We hope the citizens of the town and county will fill the classrooms for the Patrick County Education Foundation believes that as education goes here so goes the future of this place that many call home.”
Richard “Major” Reynolds III, grandson of Reynolds Sr., said he and his family felt privileged to be part of the ceremony.
“This learning facility is going to have a significant effect on the economic and workforce development of Patrick County going forward,” he said.
Reynolds believes Reynolds Sr. and Baliles also would feel honored, because they spent most of their lives working hard to create better economic opportunities for others.