New president of the board of the Reedville Fishermen's Museum, Becky Hayine stands on the deck of the 1922 buyboat Elva C with Lizzie the border collie. Photo: Larry Chowning

Daughter of Reedville Fisherman’s Museum Founder Named President

 A good recipe for success in any venture is passion, love of a cause and the energy to make it happen—and leading a maritime museum is no different.

Becky Haynie of Reedville, Va. checks all three boxes for the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum where she was recently elected president of the board of directors.

Becky’s passion and love of the job comes from her late father Wendell Haynie who passed away Dec. 20, 2020. Wendall, his brother Braxton and Alice Butler spearheaded the formation of the Greater Reedville Association in 1988, which led to the creation of the museum.

Reedville has a rich Tidewater Virginia commercial fishing heritage. The founder of the town, Elijah Warren Reed of Brooklin, Maine, arrived on Chesapeake Bay in a three mast schooner during the summer of 1867 and established what was to become the modern-day menhaden fishery. By 1912, the town’s economy had become the highest per capita wealth of any town in the United States.

Going back to her early childhood, Becky witnessed the passion and love that her father had for Reedville and its maritime culture. “When I was a kid there were all these derelict fish boats on the shoreline and one was the [fish steamer] East Hampton,” said Becky. “I had a 12-foot skiff with a 4-hp motor and I lived on the creek. It was the spookiest thing to me with that old boat laid up on its side and open inside, and we climbed all over it.

“My father grew concerned that so many artifacts were disappearing off the boats and that there would not be any left for posterity,” she said. “He wanted to create a home to secure and display them. I want to make sure that home is secure too.

“I have been active with the museum and on the board of directors for a number of years. When you have an idea suddenly you are in charge of it,” which she said played into her recent rise to the leadership role with the museum. 

“COVID-19 has slowed everything and everybody down but we are going to do some great things here at the museum,” she said. “We have a great team of people on our executive board and we have brought in some young people to bring some energy. 

“We have gone back to holding our Concert By The Creek musical performances which has brought back some of our local people and we have plans to embrace our local watermen by getting the community and our watermen more involved in the museum,” she said.

“We are considering doing a working watermen’s tour, similar to a our Christmas House Tour, where we will take people to Walter Roger’s fish trap pier to see the fish and pound net boats,” she said. “Next, we could go to Fleeton Point Seafood where they shed crabs and grow oysters and the big ticket would be a visit to the Omega Protein plant, the largest menhaden plant on the East Coast.”

Haynie hopes under her watch the museum can gain more social media presence, grow membership and purchase more property for more outdoor functions and to have a location for larger exhibits. “My father always wanted a [menhaden] spotter plane for an exhibit but we don’t have room for it on the museum grounds.

“Besides history, our greatest asset is our volunteers,” said Haynie. “We have a dedicated group of people who volunteer their time because they love the museum and they love Reedville.

“I also plan on putting the fun back into fundraising,” she said. “I believe that if you can make it fun people will come!”

-Larry Chowning