It was a new experience for me — calling the day before an interview to see if my subjects wanted to meet. The Coronavirus situation had escalated quickly and I wasn’t certain of the safest way to proceed for the health of my subjects. The Harveys were glad to meet with me for this Ivy Hill Story. We maintained physical space while still building rapport. I have a feeling they’re still waving at neighbors and shouting greetings across their lawn to dog walkers today.

Meet Your Neighbors: Bob and Brenda Harvey

Originally Published in Life in the Ivy

During these overcast spring days, the Harvey home feels bright. Stepping outside, Bob and Brenda Harvey laugh at their standard poodle, Coco. She skips happily through the front yard to greet her friend — a chihuahua named Athena. (Their humans remained a responsible 6 feet apart.)

This gloomy weather doesn’t stop their fun — and social distancing hasn’t dampened their spirit.

Standing in the Circle

From their home on Equestrian Ridge Circle, Bob and Brenda have grown deep roots in the local community. Bob and Brenda both find ways to stay involved with the people they love and the passions they pursue.

Brenda was born in Amherst County and grew up in the area. She attended Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) to study education. After college, Brenda taught elementary education for about 30 years until 2002.

“Second-graders haven’t changed that much. They want to do well at that age,” laughs Brenda, “They still like to learn.”

Once a week, Brenda assists her daughter, a second-generation teacher, with her 2nd-grade class at Bedford Elementary School. Brenda explains, “It brings back memories. I enjoy it a lot and I think it helps her.” 

Although some details, like Chromebooks in the classroom, have changed, the kids are the same. “Second-graders haven’t changed that much. They want to do well at that age,” laughs Brenda, “They still like to learn.”

With a similar passion for learning, Bob spent most of his career in science, technology, and mathematics. Bob says. “I’ve had quite an adventure in several different jobs — both corporate and educational. My passions are tied together through an interest in understanding how things work.”

Bob and Brenda have two children, a daughter in Bedford and a son in Boston. They also have two grandchildren from their son. 

Keeping Up with Coco

Coco, is a smart, sweet companion. Her name came from a previous owner because Coco had dark brown fur as a puppy. It’s a standard transition amongst certain poodles to turn light grey — called Café au lait. 

Bob and Brenda repeat, “Adopt, don’t shop,” as they explain the seven degrees that led them to bring Coco into their family. 

Ivy Hill story image with Beautiful Brick home in Forest, Virginia

Bob recalls, “We used to ride our motorcycle everywhere. Once we got Coco, we got a Jeep. Now the three of us can ride together.”

Coco loves adventuring in their Jeep — even off-road — following a caravan through the trails alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Sometimes, those muddy adventures bring Bob to his other passion — amateur radio. He is part of a group that services repeaters along the Blue Ridge mountains. 

They also support community events like serving as relay points for races. Bob has enjoyed seeing the group grow as more people have become interested in ham radio.

That love of sound connects to his musical hobby. Bob has played music since high school. Now, Bob plays bass with his cover band “Off The Cuff.” Bob says, “I play anything rock-and-roll or country.” 

His favorites are dancing tunes, anything 80s, and he’s partial to The Doobie Brothers and Journey. He also enjoys helping bands improve their sound quality.  

A Place for Everyone

“We came to Ivy Hill in 1987. The community was mostly developed except for the circle — where we live now,” recalls Brenda. “We built over here and moved in 2006. It was literally across the way. We could stand on our deck and see the builders working.”

After they first married, the Harvey’s lived in Forest, VA. When they decided to move to Ivy Hill, they found the local landscape was a little barren. Bob remembers, “There was King’s grocery store. That was it.”

“We had a neighbor that said, if you need anything, like even a can of soup, come to me because it’s a long way out,” laughs Brenda. “It’s not that way anymore.”

Even now, Brenda waves to her neighbors shouting, “We’re physically distancing — not socially distancing.” 

Now, they are settled into the thriving community. Bob is the treasurer of the Homeowners Association (HOA) while Brenda helps with The Ladies Association. Brenda also manages the growing Ivy Hill Book Club saying, “We started out with 3 members but, now we have 12.” 

She’s also known as the “Welcome Lady” because she brings a packet to each new family when they move into the neighborhood. 

While this season of life has created barriers, Bob and Brenda are staying connected. They talk to their grandchildren on Skype, send out emails to the HOA and Ladies Association, and sometimes they stretch out Coco’s leash and chat with neighbors from their front yard. 

Even now, Brenda waves to her neighbors shouting, “We’re physically distancing — not socially distancing.”