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Earl Broyles, dead at 94
AS A BOY growing up in Culpeper
The absence of an at-hand mother and father can make a child doubt his value. Perhaps in young Earl's case, making money was a tangible way to prove worth. Anyhow, he excelled at it. During a long career he sold almost every legitimate product but ladies' corsets and religion: dry goods, gravel, taxi rides, groceries, fried chicken, auto parts, used cars, tools, postage stamps, square footage. To newer residents of southern Stafford County and environs he was the namesake of Earl's True Value Hardware at Chatham Heights Shopping Center, a retail complex he built. From-heres, however, remember him as the owner-operator of Earl's Food Market, once the largest independent grocery in Virginia.
Unlike many self-made men, Mr. Broyles never ran for elective office, headed a civic organization, or posed in a tux for a shutterbug. He ill fit the definition of hale fellow well-met. He was honest and hardworking--try 14 hours a day for years sometime--and private. He had learned early that you can't count on life handing you anything. But he did more than stack silver eagles in a counting house. He restored, sold, and drove antique cars. He piloted boats and small planes, going above and beyond an Earth too barren to yield him a normal childhood. With his wife and four kids in tow, he found places where accounts receivable and inventory dilemmas couldn't follow.
Mr. Broyles, a dynamo of GNP (gross neighborhood product), presided over a small but meaningful earldom in southern Stafford. Legacy? Look for it under "U" for "useful." From ham to hammers, from rocks to Ramblers, if you needed it, he was the man to see. The former orphan, dead at 94, devoted his life to the proposition that others would not do without.