“Adeline and Millie”

Congratulations, you otter-ly amazing human – you found one of our beautiful bronze otter sculptures! This sculpture is part of the Otter-ly Amazing Fredericksburg Project supported by Fredericksburg, VA Main Street, and the City of Fredericksburg.

Did you know that the Rappahannock River is home to the river otter? These furry river dwellers are a crucial indicator of an aquatic ecosystem’s health, and their presence is a sign of good water quality. Thanks to the cleanup efforts from local environmental organizations like Friends of the Rappahannock, otters have started returning to our river!

This otter proudly serves as a symbol of the health and vitality of our city.

Learn more about the river otter and this project at fredericksburgotters.com.

Our donors named their otters in honor of family members, important people, pets, or with a name that represents their values or beliefs. We hope you will enjoy the stories that weave a community together and give you a glimpse of the special people who call Fredericksburg home.

This river otter family was proudly donated by:
The Pine Knot Fund of the Community Foundation and Melissa Colombo

This momma river otter is named:

The Pine Knot Fund at the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region is a donor advised fund set up in 2019, using appreciated securities inherited from the donor’s grandmother, Adeline.  Since Adeline died in 1973, the cost basis of her investments is very low by today’s standards.  Consequently, the donor gives Adeline’s appreciated securities to local charities, thereby avoiding long-term capital gains taxes.

The Pine Knot Fund is designated for historic and cultural preservation to include historic properties, public and historic gardens, landscape enhancement, animal welfare, and arts and economic revitalization projects in downtown Fredericksburg.  The Otter-ly Amazing Art Installation is a perfect fit for the Pine Knot Fund as a way of enhancing downtown with beautiful and fun art.

The Community Foundation is a terrific resource for directing philanthropy locally, taking away any hassles associated with charity and making giving easy and a joy.  It is truly uplifting to give through the Community Foundation.

Almost 50 years after her death, Adeline would be happy to know that her prudent investments are giving back to a great community.  It is a legacy that would give her tremendous satisfaction.  And of course, she would be beguiled by the otters, pleased to know that they are frolicking in our clean river!

By the Pine Knot Fund at the Community Foundation

This pup river otter is named:

Millie was the matriarch of our Fall Hill Neighborhood and passed away in 2020 at the age of 101. I could talk about her literally for hours, but you may read more in The Free Lance-Star’s article that ran on her for her 100th birthday.

Personally, I am a better person for knowing her.  She insisted on watching my dog while I was at work (and even on the weekends when I was home), so I would see her every morning and sit and chat with her every evening.  She was full of life experiences, stories about Fredericksburg and her childhood in Illinois.  She was family to so many of us in the neighborhood and I will always cherish the time we spent together.  To this day, I still miss my evening conversations with her.  When my pup Suge passed away last November, I could only think of how Millie now has company while gardening and a pup to feed ‘samples’ of whatever Millie is having for lunch.

I donated to the Otter-ly Amazing Art Installation Project for so many reasons.  For one, I’m a Virginia Tech graduate and a few years ago, a river otter was spotted on campus in the Duck Pond.  A social media campaign was launched to name him, and he was dubbed “Otter Sandman.”  (Just for reference, when the Hokies football team enters Lane Stadium, Enter Sandman by Metallica is played while the entire stadium of fans jumps up and down.) Naturally, VT licensed “Otter Sandman” T-shirts.  So needless to say, I was thrilled when my alma mater and my city both had thriving water environments that drew river otters.

I moved to the city in 2002 after spending a year traveling the country in a 1975 VW camper. Before that, I was living in Falls Church working at my first job out of college.  I was drawn to the sense of community in Fredericksburg, the small-town feel…yet nestled in between Richmond, Washington DC, and Charlottesville; the unmistakable beauty of having a river run through the city; its rich history and location as a gateway to the mountains and the Northern Neck.  I feel like I hit the jackpot.  I bought my house in 2003 and found out what a real ‘neighborhood’ is all about: looking out for one another, taking time to chat and get to know each other, cookouts with neighbors, block parties, swapping house keys and just being kind and thoughtful humans.  How often do you hear someone say, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t move to that neighborhood.”  While there’s been a lot of turn-over of homeownership since Millie’s passing, we are all keeping up the tradition of being family to one another.  The new owners of Millie’s house are slowly renovating it.  After hearing several stories from myself and other neighbors, they did some research to find out more about her.  They told me when they make a change to the house, such as a new paint color, they say…”I think Millie would like this.”

I think Millie would like the Otter-ly Amazing Art Installation Project!

By Melissa Colombo