By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 6/28/19
HARRISONBURG — An advocate for agriculture, a representative for Rockingham County, but most importantly, a humorous friend.
Charles “Chuck” Ahrend, 93, of Harrisonburg, died on Monday at Oak Lea Nursing Home. But the former member of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors established his legacy long before then.
Ahrend was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1987 where he represented the communities of Singers Glen, Edom, Melrose, Mount Clinton and Ottobine. For 20 years, Ahrend would be committed to serving the area in the best interests of his constituents.
His motto: “Let’s keep Rockingham — Rockingham.”
A year after Ahrend became a supervisor, Bill Kyger was elected to the board.
“He is such a unique individual himself that he is a legacy,” Kyger said. “But the guy… he was rich in everything that he did in life.”
Two years later, Pablo Cuevas would be elected.
“He always had a very fun-loving type of attitude about things in life,” Cuevas said of Ahrend.
Ahrend was well-known to being an advocate for agriculture — even known as the “farmer board member,” according to legislation passed in 2008 by former Del. Matt Lohr commending Ahrend for his years of leadership and public service.
Raised on a 50-acre vegetable farm on Staten Island, N.Y., Ahrend would pursue a degree in agriculture from Cornell University after serving in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II.
After college, Ahrend worked in the agriculture department of Campbell Soup Co. for 20 years, later working as a buyer for Gwaltney Packing Co.
Ahrend would plant his roots in Virginia in 1971, when he moved to Albemarle County with his family to raise livestock such as hog, cattle and sheep. He relocated his farm to Singers Glen.
Ahrend was the director of the Farm Bureau Association and the Rockingham County Fair board and served as the Virginia representative on the National Pork Producers Council.
“He lived a good life and he worked hard all of his life,” Kyger said. “He did a great service to this county for many, many years, and was a dear, good friend.”
Cuevas said it was nearly impossible to dislike Ahrend, making it easy for the two to become close friends.
Cuevas recalls a trip the two took to Russia years back that is still clear in his memory.
“We could be on trip to Russia on a personal trip and he’s up there doing the polka with Russian 1975, where he stayed in Rockingham County until his death.
Ahrend believed in the “commonsense” approach to local government as a supervisor.
Due to his vast knowledge of the many obstacles facing the farming community, Ahrend kept his fellow supervisors informed regarding issues important to the farm community. He was valuable in guiding the board in its decisions regarding Rockingham County’s land zoned for agricultural use.
“Ahrend tackled Rockingham County’s most important policy issues, and through his leadership and his great sense of humor, he has had the ability to bring harmony and consensus to the board during many of its toughest decisions,” according to legislation.
Ahrend served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee of the Virginia Association of Counties, as well as the Rockingham County Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls government representatives,” Cuevas said. “He was a very versatile type of guy and that is what I miss most about him.”
Another thing Cuevas and Kyger miss about him — his cooking.
“He did a lot of barbecue,” Cuevas said. Ahrend made his famous pork barbecue at the Rockingham County Fair for more than 30 years, allowing him to get to know more people. “He was just well-loved and liked. … Everybody knew him all over the place,” Kyger said. “He made us all better and happier when he was around us and we are going to miss that, but we are still going to have the memories and all the ‘chuck-full’ moments.”