RAPHINE, Va. – A man considered a local legend by many passed away last week.
Bobby Berkstresser, who built White’s Travel Center into the biggest stop this side of the Mississippi, leaves behind a legacy that goes well beyond 18-wheelers.
White’s Travel Center is not just an icon. It employs more than 400 people, making it an economic force in Rockbridge County.
On Thursday, the visionary who created the truck stop, Berkstresser, passed away at the age of 71.
“He was a great leader. He had visions. And he would tell you about his vision and he would make it seem like you were right there with it,” said Darrell Burke, parts manager.
It was just a few months ago when Berkstresser appeared on WSLS 10 News, excited about the latest addition to what some lovingly called a “Bobbyopolis.”
Congressman Ben Cline knew Berkstresser most of his life.
“So many lives were changed because of Bobby Berkstresser. We owe him such a debt of gratitude. He will not be forgotten ever by this community,” said Cline.
It’s a thought repeated by many who say his help went beyond the success at White and Lee Hi truck stops.
He contributed to local nonprofits and served on multiple boards, including the Rockbridge County Coard of Supervisors.
“He not only was your boss, he encouraged you and was family to a lot of people. I think that does this community it’s such a tragic loss because his legacy will carry on, but he won’t be here to be that voice in that force,” said Brady Flint, director of economic development for Rockbridge County.
“Years ago on a record call, 3 o’clock in the morning. He would call me up, ‘Hey, do you need something? Do you need food? Do you need us to bring you something out there?’ He was that kind of person,” recalled Burke.
Visionary and community servant Berkstresser was a man who made visions come to life, by always lending a hand to others.
The family will receive friends at Harrison’s Funeral Home on Tuesday, April 19, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Funeral services will follow on Wednesday, April 20, at 2 p.m. at Harrison’s as well.