John Marcus Rector

[this obituary has also been printed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, on Friday, November 11th, 2022]

John Marcus Rector died peacefully in his home in Reno on Sunday, November 6th; he was 84. He is survived by his wife Carol of 62 years, brother Tom, sister Amy, sons Eric and Brian and their families. He was generally known as “Marcus” or “Marc” to his friends and colleagues.

Born on his grandparents’ farm in Logan, OH, Marc was the first son of Martha and Wendell Rector. He grew up in Columbus, attended West High School, and then Ohio State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He served on the USS Tulare and USS Henley as a communications officer. Upon leaving the US Navy he pursued his professional career as an architect in Roanoke, VA, Cambridge, MA, and Jerusalem, Israel.

His seminal work was as project architect for Faneuil Hall Marketplace (FHM) in downtown Boston for Benjamin Thompson and Associates (BTA). This was one of the first, and one of the most influential, of many “festival marketplaces” that revitalized urban centers around the US, and then around the world. In 2009 FHM won the American Institute of Architecture 25 Year Award for “buildings that set a precedent.”

Marc worked on other similar projects — South Street Seaport in New York, Harborplace in Baltimore, and the San Antonio River Walk — before beginning work on the Ordway Theater for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, MN, his last project at BTA.

In 1987 architect Moshe Safdie asked Marc to help move forward a massive project in Jerusalem, Israel called “Mamilla.” He then split time between the Boston area and Jerusalem until the project was put on hold during first Gulf War in 1991.

In 1992 Marc and Carol moved to San Francisco, and Marc opened and operated the Builders Booksource store in Ghiradelli Square. He was also an enthusiastic volunteer for the San Francisco International Film Festival, Foodwise, and Slow Food. Besides his architectural work he was a passionate foodie who wrote a cookbook for friends and family at age 50, then published a food blog — — from age 65 until recently. He loved to dance and to sing karaoke at the drop of a hat.

In 2012 they retired to the Sierra Canyon planned community in Reno, NV where Marc participated in the architectural review committee as well as neighborhood classes and numerous social events. He loved his family, Ohio State, Boston, San Francisco, Reno, and the many friends he met along the way. Marc simply loved life.


Maidstone Ordinary

A 1994 listing for what is presented as a tavern built by early Rectors in Rectortown, VA

The article in the Fauquier County Times-Democrat includes most of the history that I know about this, however the statement about the origin of the name differs from my research. I found that the original German settlers joined up in the town of Maidstone, near the mouth of the Thames River in England, after leaving their homes in 1713. When they discovered that their sponsor was broke they were forced to live and work in and around Maidstone (then a papermaking center) for a year to save their own funding for their eventual trip to the Newe Worlde in 1714. The Richters/Rectors must have had fond memories of that year to name their commercial business after the city that took them in.

The fellow who helped us at the Fauquier County Historical Society — Seth –took me up to an office not open to the public specifically to show me this article, which was all that he knew about the Rectors in Rectortown.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:
A closer look at the many definitions of “Ordinary” including a Virginia specific item!

A look on Google Maps Street View just now reveals a *similar* looking structure at a similar looking intersection in the village called “Rectortown” now — Rt. 710 is also called “Rectortown Rd.” but it’s on the corner of Routes 710 and 624? Perhaps the State has adjusted the Route numbers in the past 30 years. Sure looks a lot like it with the double chimneys!

Oddly, just last night, I watched a 60 Minutes story about a family that “accidently” purchased the house where their ancestors lived. I recommend checking it out…

Did Any Rectors Own Slaves?

John Jacob Rector 1773 Estate (partial) from Fauquier Co. Courthouse records

It was with great interest that I pulled Book 1 of over 100 bound records in the Fauquier (“It’s pronounced “Faw-KEER”) County, VA courthouse after placing all my electronic devices (including my fone) into a locker once I passed through the metal detectors in the lobby of the courthouse. Unfortunately I arrived with only 30 minutes until closing time on a Friday in May of 2022 so I had to dive in quickly. I had started with the Index book for all wills and estates recorded before 1925, and when I reached the “R” section, there were Rectors galore. I chose the earliest record I could find, which was for John Jacob Rector who died in 1773. Bingo!

And there it was in brown and white (the image I ordered and eventually received is from microfilm that is a negative of the actual image for greater contrast, I suspect):

  • Rector Inventory
    • Negro Jack
    • Negro Jude
    • Negro Sambo
    • Negro Cate(?)
    • Negro James
    • Negro Anthony
    • Negro Manuel
    • Negro Homer
    • 1 Bay Gelding … 1 Bay Stallion …

To the right of each listing is a numerical value, and because this will was moved through probate in 1773, all those figures are in Pounds Sterling, Shillings, and Pennies. I’m not sure whether it’s comforting or horrifying that a man is worth more than two horses? Two men each are worth almost twice the gelding and the stallion’s total value.

Because I had to conclude my research in 30 minutes, resulting in a slip of specific pages to have them digitize and email to me, I wasn’t able to closely correlate each document with a specific member of the Rector family, specifically my personal family tree. For example, I quickly assumed that the John Jacob Rector will and estate listing I found in Book 1 represented our First Generation descendant who immigrated from Germany. However, now that I’ve been able to link it to other records, it is clearly the will and estate of JJR’s firstborn and namesake. JJR prime died in 1728/29, and those records, primarily processed as British documents before most of Virginia was organized into the counties that administrate things like this, it’s unlikely that I will find that document. On the plus side (for me) we are descended from JJR prime’s second born, Henry. I did NOT find Henry’s will and estate listing in my 30 minutes, but I continue to do research online through the VA Archives. I did find the will for Harmon Rector, JJR prime’s third born, whose will left “…to my son Harmon Rector one negro named Peter.”

As you can see in The Begats, Spenser Rector, Henry’s youngest son, appears to have moved at some point to Ohio with his British wife before he died in 1785 (back in Fauquier Co.), which is very early in the settlement of that new “Northwest Territory.” Spenser’s last born — Marcus Clay Rector — was born in Pickaway Co., OH after all, in 1788! Offhand I know that the Continental Congress was BROKE after the Revolutionary War, and decided to offer many of its unpaid soldiers land in the new states instead of their back-pay. Rectortown is located very near the trails along the upper Potomac River that would eventually become the National Road, and then the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and then the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. I will be researching further into when/how Spenser’s family left VA and arrived in OH, though it is interesting to know that our branch of Rectors then stayed in Ohio until Amy left for the Oregon Territory(!) in the 1970s. Speaking of Amy:

To Corn & Nubbins . . . . 20 .14 —

I was FASCINATED to note one entry in JJR2’s estate, listing “Nubbins” as an asset — they have played an important and positive part of recent Rector history…but maybe they actually tie us back to old times?

I can also now add that not only did Spenser Rector move our line to Ohio shortly after the Revolutionary War, but his grandson — Marcus Clay Rector — was drafted into the Union Army in 1863 to fight against…his family, in some cases!

In fact, in my first foray to poke around on my local library’s computer (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT OWNS AND SELLS OUR COUNTRY’S OLDEST PUBLIC RECORDS?!?!?!?) I found a record for a contemporary of Marcus Clay Rector — C.P. Rector of Fauquier Co., VA — who fought in F Company of the 6th Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate Army! Who, at the age of 87, applied to the state of Virginia for a military pension because he could no longer work. Amazing.

Back In The Day

Last Sunday, Bill Morris in the New York Times added to the recent meme that college athletics are “out of control” and need to be reigned in. To illustrate his point he profiles the new-ish tradition at Duke University where students camp out, now months in advance, to insure entrance to the Big Game of the year: Duke vs. UNC men’s basketball. While I agree in some part that college administrations sometimes direct athletics un-due attention and resources that are probably contrary to their founding missions as academic institutions, I also cherish the act of cheering for one’s college team as a form of pure and benign community building. And I think that Morris has latched onto the wrong symbol of collegiate athletic access when he speaks of “Krzyzyewskiville.” Then again, I may be biased because I was there, in line, at the beginning.

I arrive at Duke in the fall of 1982, and I distinctly remember our freshman orientation guide, a junior with spiky blond hair, asking our group if we followed college basketball. All ten of us looked around and then shook our heads. He smiled and said, “a year from now you will be big fans.” Frankly I was most looking forward to the ACC football season as our family were big Ohio State football fans, so I had watched many Big Ten football games growing up and finally wanted to see a college game in person. I didn’t even know if Ohio State had a basketball team, though Dad had mentioned once or twice that John Havlicek of our beloved Boston Celtics had played for Ohio State.
Continue reading “Back In The Day”

He Stopped

Dr. Costan W. Berard 1932 – 2013

In Central Africa — I learned this when I traveled to Uganda for the NIH — the Bantu people have a saying when a person passes away. They don’t say “he died,” or “he is dead.” They say “he stopped.” — Cos Berard

If he had been born in his father’s home town of Monteferrante — a little mountain village high above the Adriatic coast of Italy — his birth certificate would have read “Costantino Berardinelli” just like his dad. Instead, “Costan Berard” was born in Cranston, NJ, just outside of Newark, the last of four children. His mother, Frances Coma (changed to “Comer” when her family arrived in the US), was widowed when Cos was only three years old, and after that she was busy running the family lumberyard business and Cos was raised by his sister Claire. The family knew him as J.R. (and the “Uncle June” similarities don’t stop there…)
Continue reading “He Stopped”

Oh Christmas Tree…

New Home, New Christmas Tree
We went out and chopped down our 2012 Christmas tree and put it up in the living room.

Our tree.

Where do you think one would find such a tree in Reno?

Everybody sells ’em, from the Garden Shop Nursery to Walgreen’s to any supermarket to Whole Foods for the sustainably raised and good tasting.

We got ours… Continue reading “Oh Christmas Tree…”

Saturday Night Sunday Morning

West and East and 36 years
Last Saturday night, Carol and Marcus attended the Oktoberfest Party at Sierra Canyon in Reno, where they now reside (a Dell Webb 55+ community).

Oktoberfest Party at the Sierra Canyon Lodge (That’s Carol center foreground next to my red beer cup.)

Here’s Carol and a bunch of old people… There was live music — think Danke Schoen and Roll out the Barrel. The couple across from us, Buck and Jan, moved here from Mesquite NV, a town of 15,000 in the desert about 75 miles north of Las Vegas. They have 8 18-hole golf courses and 133 days over 90 degrees. Everybody here is from *somewhere else,* so that’s usually the first topic of conversation.

wurst is best

The buffet included more than one kind of wurst, cabbage in many forms, German potato salad and plenty of beer. The first round was draft Sam Adams Oktoberfest followed by various bottled beers. There was dancing and frivolity but we didn’t stay to the bitter end… we were eager to get home to the Nebraska at Ohio State  football game. We watched the first quarter before leaving and “taped” the balance of the game. The Buckeyes were struggling and trailed at the end of the quarter. As you can see, they turned THAT around.


We transition to another place and time in my life: Not much more than 6 actual hours later, son Eric was taking pictures at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston where, in 1975, he accompanied his dad on a very early morning tree planting in South Market Street.

“Wow, look at those trees. Didn’t they bring those in on a flatbed truck?”

That’s right, Eric. On a rainy October morning in 1975 I didn’t have to pry you out of bed at 4am to go with me to meet the first of the tree trucks, arriving with their Locust trees from New Jersey. You were so excited that you were dressed and ready to go when I knocked on your door.
Continue reading “Saturday Night Sunday Morning”

Ohio Food Revue

Thankfully this image is NOT indicative of the food we ate when the Carol Rector family met in Lancaster to memorialize her mother Liz, who passed away this summer. Brian grazed up north in the Mistake by the Lake while the Mainers and new Renoans joined a few Hales to sip and graze in the new Short North district between downtown Columbus and the OSU campus. The next day (after the obligatory Bob Evans breakfast *at the HOME OFFICE*) we enjoyed a buffet lunch put together by the church ladies of Grace Memorial Church in Lancaster. As a nightcap some of us enjoyed a very good Mexican snack on Route 33. The following morning we reconvened in Jackson County, OH just a few miles from the Ohio River to learn all about the Big Green Egg, with a surprising taste of FORTY YEAR OLD bourbon.

Now that Marc and Brian have returned home to review (and lighten) their images, we’ve pulled together a highlight reel of the visit.

[The image above is not even from Ohio — it’s the cheesesteak vendor at the Philadelphia airport where Alison and I had lunch while connecting to ColuOH.]

Ohio September 2012
It all started Wednesday night at Brian’s house: Happy Birthday Brian… and, he grilled pork chops himself. But that’s not why we were there. We stayed over because we had to get up at 4am so Brian could take us to the airport for our 6:05 flight on Southwest. (Brian and Natasza were flying later.) It was our first time on Southwest and we discovered that when we checked our bags at the curb, all we needed was picture ID… We were already in the computer with our group and number for boarding (A 49). Seats aren’t assigned, but we paid 10 bucks to get in the A group, so getting a seat of choice was no problem. How cool is that?

There’s little to report on food at the airport at 5:15am (no tomato juice available) or on the airplane (just snax, thank you, and oh… bloody marys for 5 bucks each).

We got to Carol’s sister’s house in Baltimore, Ohio, late afternoon and sat down for some of DeeDee’s famous Barley Soup.

DeeDee’s Barley Soup

“Brown a pot roast real good in a cast iron skillet.
Put it in your slow cooker with potatoes, onion and celery and pour a cup of warm water around, not over the roast.
Cook on Low overnite then just keep adding to it.”
(This one had carrots, and corn.)

When I went out for my morning walk Friday, I picked up a few cans of V8 at the IGA. (Note to self: carry your own damn V8 for airplanes and when staying with ordinary people where “juice” means OJ or apple.)

I stopped “downtown Baltimore” to do my walking there… where there are sidewalks. I came across lots of pumpkins in a yard, and a few steps up the street, a very early Halloween decoration. Continue reading “Ohio Food Revue”