Advice for a Long Middleburg Life from Town Elders

Written by Dulcy B. Hooper

Photos by Joanne Maisano 

What does it take to live a long and meaningful life? Is it the luck of the draw – or a lifetime of good habits? Is it knowing who you are and what you are meant to do? Or is it the ability to pick up new hobbies and interests and, likewise, know when it is time to give up old ones?

To find out the secrets of some well-known members of the Middleburg community, I reached out and asked if they would share their experiences and advice gained over the course of their many years. 

Rose Marie Bogley’s long history of involvement in the Middleburg community is replete with equestrian, political, charitable, and social events, many of which she has chaired. From garden parties, stable tours, and hunt breakfasts, to travel, art, painting, and decorating, Bogley’s passion for life is abundant and genuine.

After getting her first racehorse over 50 years ago, Bogley subsequently became a breeder and owner of racehorses. In addition, she also competed in numerous sidesaddle competitions after teaching herself the art and etiquette of sidesaddle with the help of books and riding manuals. Her success includes winning the sidesaddle event at Madison Square Garden three times.  

Bogley also has a long history in animal rescue, having rescued a notable assortment of dogs and cats, as well as horses and chickens. Among the 22 horses she has rescued over the years, one is still with her: the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion who was abandoned by his owner after winning one million dollars.

Featured in a cover story in Middleburg Life a few years ago, Bogley is now taking time to “savor Peace and Plenty at Bollingbrook.” She still loves entertaining – only recently, a Saturday night cocktail party for 20 guests grew to an event for 40.

Hilleary Bogley, Rose Marie Bogley’s daughter, founded the Middleburg Humane Foundation and Bogley is pleased that “For 15 years in a row, we hosted the benefit here at Peace and Plenty. There would be hundreds of people under tents we had set up, all for the benefit of Middleburg Humane.”

“I am enjoying life,” she says. “I pray every morning and I thank God for another day.” Part of what keeps Bogley “trucking on,” to use her words, is her projects. “I always have something going on,” she says. “I love the farm, and there is always so much to do. I bought it for me – but also for my animals.”

Bogley is “grateful for my friends, and very grateful for every day that I am on this earth.”

Margaret Gardner, who has lived in Middleburg since 1965, is well known for her many years in the horse world, including a lengthy tenure as former joint master of the Middleburg Hunt. She is also known for her beautiful Italianate gardens and larger-than-life topiary of the hunt, a hobby she took up when she stopped riding. Her gardens have become the site of numerous charitable events for the benefit of animal rescue organizations.

Gardner gets down to brass tacks. In response to the question, “To what do you attribute your longevity?” her answer is prompt and to the point: “I haven’t a clue!” she exclaims. It didn’t take long, however, before she delved into some specific details.

“Well, I walk five miles a day, as long as the snakes aren’t out. I don’t eat much and what I do eat, I mostly grow myself. I go to bed early and keep the BBC on in the background. I keep up with what’s going on around the world! I’ve got to have a drink or two every day . . . but not to excess, mind you. Make sure you mention that – ‘not to excess’. And, of course, I have my animals.”  

Gardner’s “animals” include a lifetime of dog rescue – with more than a few cats along the way. “I have seven dogs now,” she shares. “I’ve cut back, but most of the time, I’ve had 20 or more.” 

Gardner also believes in the importance of challenging herself and spending time on her many interests, whether those interests are “good, bad, or indifferent.” From tennis, needlework, knitting, art, gardening, and tending to her numerous collections – including a beautiful library housing books of every kind and variety – Gardner does indeed have a lot of interests. “I know I am a born pack rat,” she admits.

To “keep the synapses connecting,” Gardner works on jigsaw puzzles every day. “Actually, twice a day,” she adds. “And I do 1,000-piece puzzles at a minimum – nothing less than that.” She spends 20 to 30 minutes before lunch and another 20 to 30 minutes before dinner, “which I mostly don’t eat,” she reminds me. “It may be a useless waste of time, for all I know. But I enjoy my puzzles.”

As Gardner sits in her dining room, a mass of jigsaw puzzle pieces spread out before her, waiting to be fitted into place, her favorite dog, Pepper, sits quietly and politely in a chair at her side.  

“He’s the best, isn’t he?” she asks.

James L. Hatcher, Jr. (Jimmy), longtime horseman and foxhunter, has been part of the Middleburg community since 1966. He first rode in the Upperville show in 1949 and continued to show there for many years, riding horses that he had trained.

The first thing he mentions in response to my question about longevity: “Well, exercise is important. I walk every morning – not as much as I used to, but I walk every morning.”

Hatcher explains that in the course of his riding, he has “taken a lot of falls.”  

“I fractured my skull for the first time when I was 14,” he remembers. “I was riding too many other people’s horses, and that’s what happens.”  

He stopped riding for good when he was 80. His mare was 18 and had some stifle problems and Hatcher says, “That seemed like a good time to stop. I was 80, and she was 18 and had some problems. It was a good time to stop.”  

Hatcher says that while he misses riding, he is “well out of it now. And anyway, it wouldn’t be the same as it was.”

“I’m trying to find more time now to be with people,” Hatcher shares. “And, I have to say it – maybe it is as simple as this, but I just ‘keep on keeping on.’”

Something that Hatcher has much more time for now is reading. “I do read a lot. More than I ever had. I am just now reading the newest John Grisham book, and it’s great.” Hatcher says that he counts on the library to pick good books for him. “They do a great job at it,” he remarks. “And I really appreciate it.”

Joanne Swift, long-time proprietor of The Shaggy Ram, has been part of the Middleburg community since 1986.  

“I think the thing that keeps me going – the thing that makes my life what it is – comes down to the experiences I have had through living in so many parts of the world,” she says. “I can always fall back on those experiences and memories and realize how lucky I am.”  

Swift grew up in Wisconsin and then moved on to spend time in Washington, Florida, Colorado, California, and Virginia – and, along the way, she had “four glorious years in Europe, years of utter joy.”  

Swift says she is grateful for having met “some truly fabulous people along the way.” Among those individuals were former president Gerald Ford and former first lady Betty Ford. Swift was able to spend time with them and get to know them when she did the interior decorating of their home in Vail, Colorado.  

Among the notable projects that are so much a part of Swift’s memory are a 16th-century chateau in Europe and the ambassador’s home and consulate in Morocco. Swift remains busy with The Shaggy Ram and her decorating and interior design work. “I love having met so many interesting people over the years,” she says, “and [having] the incredible opportunity to search for antiques abroad. Those experiences never leave you.” ML

This article first appeared in the January 2022 Issue.