Saturday, November 20, 2021

Henry Castner, Fearrington Trail Blazer, has passed away

Henry and Claire Castner had lived in their lovely wooded Fearrington neighborhood since 1989. They moved to Carolina Meadows a couple of years ago. Henry died in November 2021

Henry on Creekwood Trail

Henry’s journey to Fearrington, like many of us, was circuitous. He grew up through high school in Louisville Kentucky. “After the war, my father bought a dairy farm,” he remembers. “The experience of farming teaches people to be real problem solvers – using what is around to fix what needs fixing,” he explains. This skill became a real asset in his later endeavors here in Fearrington.

Henry pursued an education in engineering at Centre College in Kentucky, Vanderbilt, U of Pittsburg and earning a PhD in Cartography from University of Wisconsin. He taught cartography in the Geology Department at Queens University in Kingston Ontario, Canada for 25 years. The Castners came to Fearrington, where a family member lived, upon his retirement.

Henry’s experience in mapping made him acutely aware of space and people. “I looked at where our mail kiosks were located and thought about how people went every day to get their mail,” he explains. He noted that each kiosk was 15 minutes from where people lived.  “I realized that Fearrington was meant to be a walking community.”

As a component of R. B. Fitch’s planned development, 15 percent of the land area had to be left as undeveloped space. Areas where houses would not be easily built, like along creeks and low lands were allotted to FHA. In 1995, while serving on the FHA Board as Director of Grounds and Facilities, Henry and Board President Lovick Miller explored the FHA property along the Creekwood stream. “It was a beautiful place just right for a nature walking trail,” Henry realized. There was a deer path along the little creek and some people walked their dogs along it. Henry and a few friends slowly began to make it easier to access and enjoy the area.

Over the years, the walking trails have been developed completely by volunteers in additional areas of our community. The cadre of volunteers has included over 30 Fearringtonians. They have built 11 bridges, 4 stair ways, a labyrinth, and placed 30 benches around the community. Like his dairy farmer father, Henry and his crew have solved problems inexpensively using resources readily around the community. On the North Langdon Trail, an interesting experiment is being conducted. We have a challenge of the deer population destroying vegetation throughout the community, including our trails. The volunteer crew has made a fenced area along the trail to determine whether native plants might recover without deer grazing. As part of our Arbor Day celebrations, trees have been planted in our trail areas.

The Fearrington trail system has evolved to be a special element of life in our community – places to enjoy nature, exercise, bird watch, stroll with friends, or just sit and relax. The trails offer ways to safely walk away from automobile traffic. Relying on his map-making expertise, Henry has created a map to guide our residents on efficient and safe walking around our community.

“Fearrington's trails allow residents to dive into the forest just outside our houses,” asserts Carol-Ann Greenslade, a previous FHA Grounds and Facilities Director and leader of the Arbor Day celebration in Fearrington for many years. “They provide us calm and natural beauty, encourage us to get outside. We love the creeks and the quiet, and our dogs love smelling the wildlife and vegetation.”                    

1 comment:

  1. This is sad news indeed. Please post if you hear of a memorial service. I will share with the Trails committee of the Long Range Planning Committee.