Dedication and loyalty are the two words that come to mind when members of the Chesterfield County Fair Association think of Mary Chalkley. As a life-long resident of the area, Mary’s roots are well established in Chesterfield.
Mary Perkinson Chalkley was born in 1937, the tenth of eleven children born to Daniel and Annie Perkinson. She was raised on a farm in Matoaca, attended Ettrick Elementary School, and graduated from Thomas Dale High School in 1955. Mary’s mom was a 4-H leader for 38 years, oversaw 4-H displays at the fair, and fostered Mary’s association with the fair. One year when Mary was 13 or so, she and her sister, Bettie, entered their “baby beef cow” for judging. Mary recalls her sister winning second place and she may have gotten fourth place. Once the beef were judged, many of them were bought by Safeway Grocery Stores. Mary’s baby beef was purchased and she received a letter from Safeway offering her the opportunity to come to the store and receive a free steak, but she didn’t take them up on the offer.
Mary and her husband, Mason, were both students at Thomas Dale High School. Upon high school graduation Mary took her first job as a clerk typist for Chesterfield County’s Executive Secretary’s office. Within a year, she moved to the Purchasing Department as a secretary, where she stayed until 1966 when she ended her full-time employment. She continued as a part-time employee in the County Treasurer’s office until 1997. Mason worked as a police officer and spent two years in the Army. They married in March of 1961 and began building their life and their home together.
As a 4-H member from when she was nine to when she was 18, Mary developed many valuable skills and leadership qualities. She continues to use these assets in her many activities and organizations of which she is a part. Specifically, Mary became secretary of the Chesterfield County Fair Association in 1966 and held that position for 38 years. The job was all-encompassing; she was responsible for their catalog, minutes, and correspondence, and at times handling bill payments – just to name a few of the many hats she wore all at the same time. Mary also holds the positions of Historian and Arts and Crafts Coordinator, jobs she handles with great expertise. For those who entered preserves, sewing or artwork for judging in the back building of the fairgrounds, as well as those who have just visited the building during the fair to see all the displays; Mary is the one who knows everything about how that building needs to be run. She is out there overseeing the cleaning, set-up and storing of display cases; she organizes the judging; and she keeps a watchful eye on the displays each day of the fair. In 2015 the Chesterfield County Fair Association recognized Mary’s hard work and love of the fair by dedicating the Arts and Crafts Building in her name.
Mary is a long-time active member of Wood’s United Methodist Church serving in many different capacities. She is a volunteer with Chesterfield Family and Consumer Services of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership Council. Working in her yard, visiting Nags Head, spending time with family members, and attending plays at Swift Creek Mill Theatre top the list of Mary’s passions.
Those connected with the Chesterfield County Fair Association respect Mary for the commitment she has shown. They are honored to know her and can’t begin to explain how much she means to them. Fifty years (and still counting) is certainly an accomplishment of which she should be proud. The association certainly are proud of her.
This story is a reprint from Chesterfield County Fair Premium List catalog. Pick-up a copy to learn about all the happenings at the fair.