The Wisdom of Age Project—Hampton Roads, Va. 2017 Documenting Life Stories & How We Get By
Home • About Christopher Newport University About Us •


Archive— 2009-2011 2012 2013 2015

"Seeing It Through:  Dr.  Wayne Rodehorst"

photos, video & nonfiction by Sarah Kerndt

    Dr. Wayne Rodehorst has never been a huge fan of computers, but he sits at one twice a week as he works to transcribe old letters between ship captains and look over ship logs dating back to the days of Darwin. He works quietly in a back room in the Mariners Museum as a volunteer, and while the work he does may sound tedious and difficult, Dr. Rodehorst is the best man for the job. His charming personality and intelligence make him quite a well-known character at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and while other volunteers will rave about  him and his accomplishments, he typically remains quiet and humble when people talk about him. Dr. Rodehorst has lived and incredible life full of adventure both in his professional and personal life, but he now finds comfort sitting at his computer twice a week working on projects pertaining to his life-long interests. I hope you enjoy taking a brief look into his life and are able to learn some things from the stories he shares.

I HAD NOT BEEN to the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia, often until I began meeting with Dr. Wayne Rodehorst for this assignment. Soon, it was the last time that I would visit. I went then to meet with him and, as I made my way through the large glass door at the main entrance, I noticed that he was waving to me, indicating that I may, once again, make my way into the museum and pass the front desk without hesitation, without paying admission.


This time, Wayne, as he asked me call him, was dressed more casually than he had been at other meetings. On this day he wore a beige cardigan and white polo, which made him seem far less intimidating than he has been during previous meetings. In the times I have met with him previously, he is usually in a suit and tie making him slightly more intimidating to interact with, especially knowing he used to be the president of a college.


Down the hallway there was a door on the right that required card swipe access to get in. Upon entry I found myself in a small lounge area full of other volunteers, some who were similar in age to Wayne, that contained books, two offices and also had a large model boat underneath a window. As Wayne and I began to move into the room, the volunteers began moving out of their seats, and making their way back to their respective locations within the museum.


Eventually, we got settled and were able to begin another interview, and while I admit I could have come prepared with more questions, the conversation seems to flow well. Even when I got caught up and jumbled with my words, Wayne was kind enough to speak to whatever bits and pieces he could pick up. After my previous three meetings with him, I want to believe he is finally getting comfortable sitting down and talking with me—or is it, I with him?—which is excellent because it allows for me to learn more and more each time I meet with him.


As our conversation that day continued, we found ourselves being interrupted by several elderly volunteers, who did not pick up that he and I were doing an interview. One woman in particular decided to interject during Wayne’s story about his time at the museum and insert her own soliloquy into the conversation; and while her story was interesting, I believe Wayne and I both were contemplating ways to inform her about the work we were doing. Eventually Wayne found a point in conversation to tell her about the project we were working on, which caused her to then apologize profusely. It was a humorous moment, nothing to be upset about, but it’s interesting to think about what other distractions could possibly occur when conducting an interview.


As the interview came to a close, I anxiously watched the clock contemplating whether or not I would make it to my two o’clock class; as it turned out, I wouldn’t, but the extra ten-to-fifteen minutes I had to speak with Wayne made a large impact on the trajectory of the project. It was a moment that showed me, that the final moments of an interview can often have the most impact. It's all in my video interview, as well as my audio interviews on this page.

Dr. Wayne Rodehorst

Audio Features

Wayne and Mary Lou have been together for over sixty-years, and during those sixty-years+ they have been on a number of adventures; in fact, they have been on so many that they have come up with a new definition for the word adventure; “An adventure is a disaster that has a happy ending.” These sound bites will provide examples of some of their earliest adventures, as well as, some reflection on some of the adventures they have had in their lives. Their stories and perspectives on life are heartwarming and insightful when it comes to life and love; so I hope you enjoy hearing the tales of Mary Lou and Wayne Rodehorst.

"Wayne & Mary Lou Meet"

"Wayne & Mary Lou—Lost in Love"

Sarah Kerndt is a 2017 graduate of Christopher Newport University with a BA in Communications with a minor in Film Studies. As the Vice President of Programming for the Student Diversity and Equality Council and President of Spectrum, she’s made her mark on the campus community. Sarah would call herself an aspiring filmmaker and felt the pull for film at the age of 7 when she began making films on her family’s camcorder. Post grad, Sarah plans to venture out into Richmond, Virginia, where she will navigate a new community and other creative projects.

About the Documentarian